July 2014 Current Events: U.S. News
Here are the key events in United States news for the month of July 2014.
Chinese Hackers Gain Access to U.S. Employee Data (July 9): American officials announce in that Chinese hackers breached the computer network of the Office of Personnel Management back in March. The officials say that the hackers from China seemed to target employees applying for top security clearances. It remains unclear how far the hackers got into the agency's network before authorities detected their presence and blocked them. This announcement comes weeks after the U.S. Justice Department indicts of five members of Shanghai-based Unit 61398, the cyber division of Chinese People's Liberation Army, charging them with hacking into the computer networks of Westinghouse Electric, U.S. Steel Corp., and other companies.
Two Rulings Jeopardize Key Affordable Care Act Component (July 22): Two conflicting rulings are handed down, jeopardizing a key component of the Affordable Care Act. Both cases center on the Internal Revenue Service rule that makes some people who buy insurance on federal exchanges eligible for subsidies. The rule says that subsidies are offered in exchanges "established by the State." In Halbig v Burwell, a three-judge panel in Washington, DC, rules 2-1 that the federal subsidies are illegal because they aren't explicitly mentioned in the law. Thirty-six states have not created their own exchanges, forcing residents to enroll through federal exchanges. In the other ruling, King v Burwell, the panel in Virginia unanimously upholds the rule. In the decision, Federal Judge Roger Gregory writes that the panel will not "deny to millions of Americans desperately-needed health insurance through a tortured, nonsensical construction of a federal statute whose manifest purpose, as revealed by the wholeness and coherence of its text and structure, could not be more clear." The rule will likely end up before the Supreme Court.
CIA Admits to Spying Allegations (July 31): The CIA announces that an internal report found that agents did in fact hack into the Senate Intelligence Committee's computer network and used a false identity when doing so. In addition, the CIA's inspector general says that agents read the emails of the committee members. CIA director John Brennan apologizes to Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the highest-ranking Republican on the committee. The news sparks bipartisan outrage. Sen. Mark Udall calls for Brennan's resignation. "The CIA unconstitutionally spied on Congress by hacking into the Senate Intelligence Committee computers," he says in a statement. "This grave misconduct not only is illegal but it violates the U.S. Constitution's requirement of separation of powers."