Subpoena sent. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, announced today he has subpoenaed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for documents related to the launch of Healthcare.gov. Slow load times and other “glitches” have plague the website, which is supposed to showcase health insurance plans available under Obamacare. Sebelius and other administration officials have so far refused to provide documents detailing what led to the problems. Issa is asking for documents related to technical problems, the testing that went into the website, and the number of people who have enrolled and attempted to enroll in federal exchanges through the site. The information is due by Nov. 13.
Popularity contest. The Obamacare website problems, and other criticisms over the healthcare reforms, are taking a toll on President Barack Obama’s approval rating. According to a poll from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, the president’s popularity dropped 5 percentage points this month, to a low of 42 percent. In addition to angst over Obamacare, the pollsters blame the low ratings on frustration over government surveillance programs, the government shutdown, and debate over taking action against Syria’s chemical weapons program.
Snowden’s new gig. Speaking of surveillance, Edward Snowden, the former CIA analyst wanted in the United States for leaking classified documents about the National Security Administration’s electronic spying programs, has a new job in his new home. According to one of his lawyers, Snowden will begin work tomorrow for a Russian internet company, maintaining its website. I sure hope they’re not storing any sensitive documents. Snowden sought and received asylum in Moscow earlier this year after fleeing Hawaii and spending a few weeks in Hong Kong.
One step closer. The Hawaii state Senate passed a bill yesterday authorizing same-sex marriage. The measure now goes to the state’s House of Representatives, where it also is expected to pass. Only three Democrats joined the Senate’s lone Republican in voting against the bill, which would repeal a voter-approved constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. In the House, Democrats outnumber Republicans 44 to seven. Gov. Neil Abercrombie is a strong supporter of the legislation and called the special legislative session so that lawmakers could take action on the bill before the end of the year.
iPad users rejoice. The Federal Aviation Administration announced today it is lifting the ban on using electronic devices below 10,000 feet and during takeoff and landing. Experts had predicted the move but the changes won’t go into effect for every airline immediately. Before they can lift the old restrictions on their flights, airlines must prove that their planes are not subject to radio interference from electronic devices. Delta Air Lines and JetBlue have already filed requests for clearance for the new rules. Using cell phones to make calls during a flight will still be prohibited.