Category Archives: Letters

Leahy Urges Google, Apple to Attend Mobile Privacy Hearing

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) “is urging two leading providers of smartphone and tablet technology to accept invitations to testify before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law at a May 10 hearing focused on ‘Protecting Mobile Privacy: Your Smartphones, Tablets, Cell Phones and Your Privacy,’” according to a press release.

In letters to Google CEO Larry Page and Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Leahy urged the companies to testify about how each is addressing privacy concerns raised by the collection and storage of sensitive, personal information by technologies like Google’s Android software and Apple’s iPhone.

“Like many Americans, I read with deep concern recent press reports indicating that [Android Phones and iPhones] collect, store and track user location data without the user’s consent,” wrote Leahy.  “As Congress considers updates to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and other Federal privacy laws, it is essential that the Senate Judiciary Committee have full and accurate information about the privacy risks posed by this new technology.”

Read the Google letter here and the Apple letter here.

Update: According to All Things Digital, Apple CEO Steve Jobs will send a representative to attend the hearing.

He said Apple looks forward to testifying before Congress and other regulatory bodies and said the company will do what it can to clarify things further.

“I think Apple will be testifying,” Jobs said. “They have asked us to come and we will honor their request, of course.”

Update (4/28): According to a press release statement by Chairman Leahy, both Apple and Google representatives will attend the hearing.

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Filed under Hearings, Letters

Committee Republicans Seek Open Budget Process

Senate Republicans serving on the Budget Committee sent a letter to Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) today “urging him to drag the budget process into the light of day — or at least onto the Internet,” POLITICO reports.

In the letter obtained by POLITICO, the senators ask Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, to post his 2012 budget proposal online at least three days before the committee marks up the bill. In recent years, the budget has been “presented, marked up and passed out of committee in less than 48 hours.”

The GOP senators also want Conrad to hold a series of public meetings where they can offer amendments to the budget plan.

“Having an open, public process in the Senate allows the American people to directly participate in the decision over how we spend their money,” the senators wrote. “The American people do not, and should not, trust Washington with their tax dollars — for years it has frittered away those tax dollars and brought our nation to the brink of insolvency.”

Response:

Conrad’s office responded to the letter saying the Republicans aren’t asking for anything new. "The Budget Committee has always had a completely open mark-up process for the budget resolution," said Stu Nagurka, Communications Director, Senate Budget Committee in a statement.  "And Chairman Conrad understands the urgency of dealing with our nation’s long-term deficits. That’s why he has been working hard for months on a bipartisan, comprehensive deficit reduction plan. He wants to give the Group of 6 a chance to reach agreement so that he could consider using that bipartisan plan as a framework for the Senate budget resolution."

Who signed:

In addition to [Ranking Member Jeff] Sessions, the letter was signed by Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Mike Crapo of Idaho, John Ensign of Nevada, John Cornyn of Texas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Thune of South Dakota, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Rob Portman of Ohio.

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Filed under Budget, Committees, Letters

Moderate Democrats Urge Speaker to Avoid Shutdown

A group of “16 moderate Democratic senators, led by Mark Udall (CO), today sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner urging him to prevent a shutdown of the federal government,” according to a press release.

In addition to Udall, the letter was signed by senators Michael Bennet (CO), Tom Carper (DE), Kay Hagan (NC), Tim Johnson (SD), Mark Begich (AK), Jon Tester (MT), Mark Warner (VA), Ben Nelson (NE), Kent Conrad (ND), Jim Webb (VA), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Mary Landrieu (LA), Claire McCaskill (MO), Bob Casey (PA), and Chris Coons (DE).

They say it would be “irresponsible to shut down the government and punish our constituents solely to assert a political point.”

Read the full letter here.

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Filed under Government Shutdown, House of Representatives, Letters

Geithner Updates Reid on Debt Limit

In a letter sent today to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said that his department “now projects that the debt limit will be reached no later than May 16, 2011.”

This is a projection based on the expected level of tax receipts, the timing of our commitments and obligations over the next several weeks, and our judgment concerning the level of cash balances we need to operate. Although these projections could change, we do not believe they are likely to change in a way that would give Congress more time in which to act. Treasury will provide an update of this projection in early May.

If the debt limit is not increased by May 16, the Treasury Department has authority to take certain extraordinary measures, described in detail in the appendix, to temporarily postpone the date that the United States would otherwise default on its obligations. These actions, which have been employed during previous debt limit impasses, would be exhausted after approximately eight weeks, meaning no headroom to borrow within the limit would be available after about July 8, 2011. At that point the Treasury would have no remaining borrowing authority, and the available cash balances would be inadequate for us to operate with a sufficient margin to meet our commitments securely.

An interesting note from the letter:

Nor is it possible to avoid raising the debt limit by cutting spending or raising taxes. Because of the magnitude of past commitments by Congress, immediate cuts in spending or tax increases cannot make the necessary cash available. And, reductions in future spending commitments cannot supply the short-term cash needed. In order to avoid an increase in the debt limit, Congress would need to eliminate annual deficits immediately.

None of those budget policy choices is feasible or responsible. As a consequence, given that Congress has imposed on itself the requirement for periodic increases, there is no alternative to enactment of an increase in the debt limit.

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Filed under Debt Ceiling, Letters, Party Leadership, Treasury

Scott Brown Urges Senate Leaders to Reach Budget Deal

In a letter “released Thursday, Sen. Scott Brown called Republican efforts to cut government spending ‘irresponsible’ and urged party leaders to get over their ideology and find an agreement on a final resolution to [fund] the government through the fiscal year,” according to the Daily Caller.

The Massachusetts Republican sent the letter to Senate leaders of both parties urging them to end their squabble over the budget, drop the ideological games and come to an agreement, adding that he was “disappointed” in their behavior so far.

Brown started by scolding the leaders, who are currently in negotiations for a long-term budget deal.

“[R]ather than reaching a workable, bi-partisan solution to responsibly address our staggering deficit, we are repeatedly given a false choice between CR proposals that either don’t go far enough to reduce federal spending and proposals that set the wrong priorities that would disproportionately affect low-income families and seniors, while doing little to address critical, long-term issues,” Brown wrote.

Echoing Democratic rhetoric on spending, Brown warned that the Republican-proposed $61 billion budget reduction would occur at the expense of the poor and hurt the economy.

“Reducing and eliminating needless spending and programs are appropriate, but a wholesale reduction in spending, without considering economic, cultural, and social impacts is simply irresponsible. We must also be mindful that many of the proposed spending reductions would disproportionately affect the neediest among us, including housing and heating assistance,” Brown said. “Likewise, some of the proposed cuts would be economically counterproductive, negatively impacting our ability to innovate and invest in research and development.”

Read the full letter here.

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Filed under Budget, Continuing Resolution, Letters, Party Leadership