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Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 2775
The White House / http://Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 2775

On Thursday, October 17, 2013, the President signed into law:

H.R. 2775, the "Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014," which provides fiscal year 2014 appropriations for projects and activities of the Federal Government through Wednesday, January 15, 2014.  The effective time for the continuing resolution begins on October 1, 2013.  H.R. 2775 also extends the Nation's debt limit throughFebruary 7, 2014.

After Shutdown, Government Moves Back to Business
Associated Press /

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Barriers came down at federal memorials and National Park Service sites and thousands of furloughed federal workers - relieved but wary - returned to work across the country Thursday after 16 days off the job due to the partial government shutdown.  Read More

USDA Announces Cancellation and Postponement of Selected Reports Impacted by the Lapse in Federal Funding
US Department of Agriculture /

WASHINGTON, October 17, 2013––The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced that the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) have cancelled or postponed publication of selected USDA statistical reports impacted by the lapse in federal funding.

NASS's Crop Production and Cotton Ginnings reports and the WAOB's World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) scheduled for October 11th are canceled. The next scheduled release for these reports is November 8, 2013. Additionally, NASS's Crop Progress reports scheduled for October 7th and 15th are cancelled. NASS's Cattle on Feed and Peanut Prices reports scheduled for October 18th are postponed.

While the lapse in federal funding has ended, NASS has not been able to engage in the necessary data collection and analysis over the past few weeks. NASS is assessing its data collection plans and evaluating the timing of upcoming reports. 

Italy Faces 24-Hour Nationwide Port Strike
Journal of Commerce /


Feds Consfiscate Toxic Halloween Costumes /

A shipment of children’s pirate costumes en-route from China to a distributor in Seattle will never make it to store shelves.

Customs and Border Protection Officers (CBP) and Consumer Product Safety Investigators (CPSC) were waiting for the shipment coming from a manufacturer with a bad reputation. They tested the Halloween costumes and found lead levels in the costumes’ buttons that are 11 times the legal limit.  Read More

CBP Seizes Cocaine, Heroin at El Paso, Texas Border Entry
U.S. Customs & Border Protection /

El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the El Paso, Texas port of entry seized 17.95 pounds of cocaine and 2.85 pounds of heroin in one seizure Friday. The bust was one of eight drug seizures made by area CBP officers during the weekend.

The seizure was made Friday just after 11 a.m. when a Mazda 6 vehicle was entering the U.S. from Mexico at the Bridge of the Americas international crossing. CBP officers were performing a sweep of vehicles in line when CBP drug sniffing dog “Cesar” alerted to the car. CBP officers scanned the vehicle with the Z-Portal inspection system and spotted several anomalies in the firewall area. CBP officers continued their exam and located eight packages hidden in a secret compartment in the dash board area. The contents of seven packages tested positive for cocaine while one tested positive for heroin.

“The layers of enforcement CBP employs all helped make this seizure possible,” said CBP El Paso Port Director Hector Mancha. “As a result a sizeable load of cocaine and heroin did not make their destination.”

The driver of the vehicle was arrested by CBP officers. He is identified as 37-year-old Alfredo Olguin Rosas of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. He was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Federal prosecution was accepted on charges associated with the failed smuggling attempt.

CBP officers seized 634 pounds of marijuana and a small amount of cocaine in the other seven drug seizures made this weekend.

While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Leaders Statement
Office of the United States Trade Representative /

We, the Leaders of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam, are pleased to announce today that our countries are on track to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. Ministers and negotiators have made significant progress in recent months on all the legal texts and annexes on access to our respective goods, services, investment, financial services, government procurement, and temporary entry markets. We have agreed that negotiators should now proceed to resolve all outstanding issues with the objective of completing this year a comprehensive and balanced, regional agreement that achieves the goals we established in Honolulu in 2011, ensures the benefits of the agreement are fully shared, and takes into account the diversity of our levels of development.

A final Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement must reflect our common vision to establish a comprehensive, next-generation model for addressing both new and traditional trade and investment issues, supporting the creation and retention of jobs and promoting economic development in our countries. The deepest and broadest possible liberalization of trade and investment will ensure the greatest benefits for countries’ large and small manufacturers, service providers, farmers, and ranchers, as well as workers, innovators, investors, and consumers.

We see the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with its high ambition and pioneering standards for new trade disciplines, as a model for future trade agreements and a promising pathway to our APEC goal of building a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific. We are encouraged by the growing interest in this important negotiation and are engaging with other Asia-Pacific countries that express interest in the TPP regarding their possible future participation.

Stakeholders across the region have provided valuable input to TPP negotiating teams both on-site at rounds and in our respective countries. As we work to conclude these negotiations, we will further intensify consultations with stakeholders to craft a final agreement that appropriately addresses the interests of our citizens. We look forward to review and consideration of the outcome of our work, consistent with each of our domestic processes.

Port Authority Complete Outerbridge Crossing Repavement Project Three Weeks Early
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey /

Bridge resumes 24/7 operations on October 11

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will complete its pavement replacement project at the Outerbridge Crossing tonight, October 10, and resume 24/7 operations at the 85-year-old span connecting Perth Amboy, NJ to Staten Island tomorrow morning. Overnight closures of the span and aggressive efforts by the construction team overseeing the work enabled completion of the project three weeks ahead of schedule.

The agency last repaved the Outerbridge Crossing in the early 2000s and its roadway surface had since reached the end of its useful life. The repaved surface maintains the roadway in a state of good repair and ensures safer travel for motorists who use it. This is the first of three important projects to be completed among the bridges connecting Staten Island and New Jersey.

The project started on July 9 with weekday overnight closures, which permitted the Port Authority to complete the pavement replacement in just three months. The reopening enables the agency to keep the bridge open in both directions while construction on the Bayonne Bridge, Pulaski Skyway and Verrazano Bridge is underway.

“The project team at the Outerbridge Crossing did an excellent job over the past three months, allowing us to finish several weeks ahead of schedule,” said Roger Prince, general manager of the Staten Island Bridges. “I want to thank the traveling public for their patience while we made these necessary repairs. The result is a smoother, safer riding surface and a significant reduction in traffic impacts resulting from routine roadway maintenance. Completing the project in 2013 ensures the Outerbridge Crossing will be open 24/7 over the next several years as the Port Authority and our sister agencies embark on several large scale bridge projects throughout the region.”

Other projects underway in the Port Authority’s Staten Island Bridge Revitalization Program include building a replacement for the Goethals Bridge and the raising of the Bayonne Bridge roadway to allow larger ships to pass under it to access port terminals. These Port Authority projects are expected to generate approximately 5,000 jobs, $600 million in wages and $2.5 billion in economic activity in the region.

For up-to-the-minute traffic updates at all Port Authority crossings, motorists are encouraged to sign up for Port Authority alerts at

GAO Report: Remove Social Security Numbers From Medicare Cards
U.S. Committe on Ways and Means /

Washington, DC - Today, Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Subcommittee on Health Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) released a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirming that action must be taken by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to remove the Social Security number (SSN) on seniors’ Medicare cards to guard against identity theft and fraud.  The report, which underscores calls by Congress for such action, puts the failure to act squarely on CMS noting that it could have easily incorporated this change.

 In releasing the report, Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Johnson said, “I have said repeatedly that it makes no sense that Medicare beneficiaries have to constantly carry a card with their Social Security numbers on it.  It makes even less sense that CMS doesn’t seem to care about protecting seniors.  Last year, we asked GAO to determine if CMS could easily make the change to replace the Social Security number.  This report tells us the answer is yes.  If CMS doesn’t do what’s right for America’s seniors, we will.”

Health Subcommittee Chairman Brady said, “CMS must take this simple step and protect our nation’s seniors from identity theft and fraud.  The agency’s lack of action is unacceptable.  This report tells us the agency has squandered multiple opportunities to address the problem.  CMS needs to stop dragging its feet and begin taking the commonsense step of removing Social Security numbers from Medicare cards.”


  • Nearly a decade ago, the Bush Administration issued an order to remove all SSNs from public documents and create identity safe documents.  While other federal agencies complied and removed SSNs, CMS has been replacing lost, stolen, or expired beneficiary cards.  
  • According to the GAO report, CMS has forgone the opportunity to make changes or even begin to implement a solution to protect seniors from potential identity theft by leaving the SSN on a Medicare card they advise seniors to carry continuously.  The GAO reports that CMS still has yet to initiate the Information Technology (IT) project that is necessary for the numbers to eventually be removed from the cards.  
  • The report states that CMS IT systems would be able to handle the switch to a relatively simple translation strategy and encouraged CMS to take the administrative efforts necessary to achieve the changes.  
  • At a joint subcommittee hearing in August 2012, a CMS witness stated that the agency was eager and willing to work with Congress to develop an approach to remove SSNs from the Medicare card.  Yet, one year later, there has been little to no movement on any approach that would remove the SSN and protect seniors from identity theft.
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