The Edge is National Journal's daily look at today in Washington -- and what's coming next. The email features analysis from NJ's top correspondents, the biggest stories of the day -- and always a few surprises. To subscribe, click here.
Taking Off, with Baggage
While the rest of us cram our vacations into a couple of weeks a year, members of Congress, who invoke the word "American" in every sentence, live like Europeans—taking August off. Yes, this is a "District Work Period," but that has all the credibility of when the rest of us say "I'm working from home."
Of course, there's often drama during the vacation ... er ... recess. The tea party galvanized during the 2009 and 2010 summer breaks, foreshadowing the 2010 Republican sweep. Pitchforks and protests seem less likely at town meetings this year. But dread looms. The budget bills are nowhere. A debt-ceiling crisis is in the making. Immigration reform seems moribund.
When the members are on line at Reagan National waiting to jet home, they'll have a lot to think about besides their tans.
STATE DEPT. ISSUES WORLDWIDE TRAVEL ALERT, WILL CLOSE SOME EMBASSIES. The State Department, citing a possible al-Qaida threat, today issued a travel alert warning of "continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa," and said it will temporarily close its embassies in the Middle East, as well as some in Asia. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said that congressional leadership has been briefed on the embassy closures and the travel warning, Politico reports. "The most important thing we have to do is protect American lives so when you have a situation like this … we know something is out there," said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md. Read more
U.S. ADDS 162K JOBS, UNEMPLOYMENT TICKS DOWN TO 7.4 PERCENT. A lukewarm and familiar jobs report released this morning found the economy added 162,000 jobs in July, the fewest since March and about 20,000 below most economists' expectations, The Wall StreetJournal reports. The unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent, its lowest reading since December 2008 and down from 8.2 percent in July 2012, because of employment gains, though some people also stopped looking for work and dropped out of the labor force. The July data is consistent with a slow pace of employment growth that, if continued, would take more than seven years to close the jobs gap created by the recession. The stock market greeted the lackluster jobs numbers with a small skid. Read more
- The Journalbreaks down the highlights of the jobs data, which include gains of 6,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector and the first increase in public-sector jobs since April.
DOZENS OF CIA AGENTS 'ON THE GROUND' DURING BENGHAZI TERROR ATTACK. CNN reports that "dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground" during the attack on a diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. One source told CNN that the CIA is working to cover up the agency's activity in Benghazi that night and have subjected operatives to unusually frequent polygraph testing to make sure no one is spilling any secrets. "You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation," one anonymous source said. Read more
- The revelations about Benghazi in CNN's reporting has led The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf, once skeptical of Republican-led inquiries into the attack, to declare it suddenly "imperative" that Congress investigate further. Read more
HILL STAFFERS WILL CONTINUE RECEIVING FEDERAL FUNDS FOR HEALTH INSURANCE. The Obama administration informed Congress on Thursday that the federal government can continue paying a big chunk of health insurance costs for lawmakers and their aides, The New York Times reports. The announcement calms fears that the federal contribution would cease under the Affordable Care Act. There is a notable stipulation, however: Members and many staffers will need to obtain coverage from the new health-insurance marketplaces being set up in the states per the implementation of the health care law. The government contributions provide $5,000 annually for individual coverage and $11,000 for families under the most popular health plans. Read more
EGYPTIAN POLICE PLAN BLOCKADE AROUND PRO-MORSI PROTEST CAMP. Egyptian police are planning to set up a blockade around a sit-in camp of demonstrators calling for the reinstatement of deposed President Mohamed Morsi, Reuters reports. The blockade means police will, for now, hold off on their threats to storm in and break up the protest (even as a third sit-in began in Cairo), an encounter that most onlookers expected to be bloody. Secretary of State John Kerry, in Pakistan, said late Thursday that Egypt's military was "restoring democracy" when it removed Morsi from power, the strongest show of support yet for the country's new leadership. "The military did not take over, to the best of our judgment -- so far," Kerry said. Read more
SNOWDEN 'SAFE' IN RUSSIA, SAYS LAWYER. Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has, according to his Russian attorney, found a "safe" and secret place to live in the country just a day after leaving a Moscow airport transit zone where he had spent 40 days, The Hill reports. Snowden, who was granted one-year asylum in Russia that would allow him to work there, has not decided what he will do during his stay, the lawyer said, adding: "As soon as he decides what he will do, I hope he will announce it himself." Former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden chimed in today, saying Snowden's disclosures are worse than the information Pfc. Bradley Manning released to WikiLeaks. Read more
- If missile defense, Syria, and human rights aren't enough to reset things, it is unlikely the U.S. will blow up its complicated relationship with Russia, the Associated Press reports. Read more
CLINTON AIDES SERVING AS BRIDGE, AND SHIELD, BETWEEN ABEDIN AND CLINTONS. Clinton aides have been both supporting their friend and colleague Huma Abedin during husband Anthony Weiner's campaign for New York City mayor and protecting the Clinton family from any spillover damage, The New York Times reports. Philippe Reines, personal spokesman and adviser to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said he has been supporting Abedin, a longtime aide to Clinton, as well as making sure that the Clintons stay informed about, and shielded from, the campaign. Reines said that he is not being paid for his involvement with the Weiner operation and that his main concern is assisting Abedin. Read more
TAKING THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT TO THE PEOPLE. Local groups have begun door-to-door campaigns to spread information about the Affordable Care Act, The Washington Post reports. Supporters of the ACA have begun identifying uninsured people and are now attempting to get them to sign up for coverage, but confusion surrounding the details of the law is still widespread. The door-to-door approach is being modeled on successful political campaigns, but is untested when it comes to a sweeping national program. White House officials are hoping that 7 million people will sign up for coverage before the end of the year. Read more
Please note: this is not a comprehensive list of Sunday show guests, and lineups are subject to change. Please consult network websites for details.
- ABC's This Week will feature Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will appear on CBS's Face the Nation.
- Fox News Sundaywill host Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and NSA; House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.; and Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich.
- Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., will appear on NBC's Meet the Press.
"Not." -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., when asked by a reporter how confident she was that Congress would be able to pass farm-bill legislation (Twitter)
HOW MUCH IS A LIFE WORTH? Ken Feinberg is the nearly ubiquitous expert who has been called in to divvy up funds for the fallen and the injured in a stomach-churning sequence of tragedies, from the Sept. 11 attacks to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, from the Virginia Tech shootings to the Boston bombings. He's Death's accountant, National Journal's James Oliphant reports. And the need for Feinberg's expertise shows no signs of abating. He recently went to Capitol Hill to give advice about how to distribute money collected after 19 firefighters were killed battling Arizona wildfires. (What would he tell lawmakers? "Take the money. Divide it by 19. And get it out.") Life, Feinberg says, guarantees misfortune. The wolf is always at the door. Read more
MILLENNIALS BOOMERANGING BACK HOME AT HISTORIC RATE. A new Pew Research Center survey has found that the share of young adults ages 18-31 living in their parents' home in 2012 reached its highest level in at least four decades. Thirty-six percent of the millennial generation were living back home in 2012, a number reflective of a "slow but steady" increase from the 32 percent measured before the Great Recession in 2007 and the 34 percent found when it officially ended in 2009. Perhaps even more foreboding: Fifty-six percent of the younger half of the demographic (ages 18 to 24) were living with their parents, compared to just 16 percent of the older half (ages 25 to 31). Read more
NOT TOO HOT? NOT TOO COLD? Extreme weather can increase the likelihood of a range of conflicts including war, according to a study, published Friday in Science, by researchers at Princeton University and the University of California (Berkeley), The Atlantic reports. With the planet expected to heat up by at least 2 degrees Celsius in approximately the next 30 years, researchers said a consequence could be an uptick in violence. The teams studied data ranging back to 10,000 B.C. contained in 60 studies, and the increase occurs during drastic periods of warm or cool weather. Read more