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Futures product to test Wall Street taste for cryptocurrencies
Startup company plans to start trading futures contracts in bitcoin

Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., have sought clarity from the Commodity Future Trading Commission on guidelines for cryptocurrencies on the futures market. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Cryptocurrencies have been viewed skeptically by some old-guard financial institutions — the head of one bank famously called bitcoin a fraud a few years back — but there’s a new plan to offer derivatives based on bitcoin that may show how deeply Wall Street is adopting new financial technology.

A startup company plans in July to start testing futures contracts in bitcoin, and begin trading them shortly after. The products, unlike cryptocurrencies themselves, aren’t designed for the masses. Bitcoin futures are meant for financial firms that want to find new ways to profit from fintech, and launching the futures contracts is essentially a bet that there’s enough demand from the big players.

Americans may vote in 2020 using old, unsecured machines

Despite widespread concern about the integrity of voting machines and their cyber security, many Americans will vote in 2020 using technology that is old, outdated and vulnerable to hacking. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The first primary in the 2020 presidential race is a little more than 250 days away, but lawmakers and experts worry that elections will be held on voting machines that are woefully outdated and that any tampering by adversaries could lead to disputed results.

Although states want to upgrade their voting systems, they don’t have the money to do so, election officials told lawmakers last week.

Faced with ‘electability’ question in 2020, women point to 2018 wins
Six women are running for president, but men continue to lead in recent polls

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is one of six Democratic women running for president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

FAIRFAX, Va. — Amanda Bean is ready for a woman to take on President Donald Trump, and she has no patience for questions about whether a female candidate can win the White House.

“Everybody’s asking that, but it’s pathetic that we’re still asking,” Bean said after Sen. Elizabeth Warren, one of six women in a field of 23 Democrats seeking the presidential nomination, held a town hall here Thursday. “We should be so far past this point.”

Republican players are low, but camaraderie is high ahead of Congressional Softball Game
Lawmakers and press corps unite to fight against breast cancer

Florida Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor waits for her pitch at last year’s Congressional Women’s Softball Game. This year’s game is scheduled for June 19. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The official list of players in this year’s Congressional Women’s Softball Game is OUT! (to be read in an umpire’s voice) and we have just over a month before members of Congress and the D.C. press corps face each other on the field again.

The members team, which is historically composed of a bipartisan bunch of female lawmakers, has seen a decreasing number of Republican players over the years, one of them being last year’s MVP, former Rep. Mia Love. This year Sens. Joni Ernst and Shelley Moore Capito, Res. Cmmsr. Jenniffer González-Colón and Rep. Martha Roby make up less than a third of the team.

Election assistance agency pleads for more money ahead of 2020
“What we are working on is the infrastructure of our democracy”

Senate Rules Chairman Roy Blunt noted Wednesday that budget cuts at the Election Assistance Commission came during the Obama administration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Officials from the Election Assistance Commission, a federal agency responsible for overseeing voting machines used in thousands of jurisdictions across the country and helping states adopt good election administration practices, pleaded with lawmakers for more money to do their jobs ahead of the 2020 elections.

The federal agency is working with a staff and budget that are about half what they were 10 years ago, officials said Wednesday as lawmakers grappled with how to beef up the agency.

Trump downplays China trade ‘squabble,’ rattles sabre at Iran
POTUS: ‘We would send a hell of a lot more troops than’ 120,000 reportedly being mulled

President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he leaves the White House here on April 5. He was back on the South Lawn talking about Iran and China on Tuesday morning. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump called stalled trade talks with America’s biggest economic rival, China, just “a little squabble,” even as Congress and the markets are increasingly unnerved by it, and, touching on another foreign policy hot spot, suggested he would send more than 120,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East to confront Iran.

The remarks came after The New York Times reported the administration is considering sending troops to the Middle East. The president already has ordered a carrier strike group and bomber wing to the region. 

‘Grimmer by the day’ — Farmers’ love for Trump in peril
President’s trade actions are testing farmers in ways they never imagined

President Donald Trump’s trade actions are testing American farmers in ways they never imagined, Murphy writes, even though that’s exactly what he campaigned on. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — The love affair between President Donald Trump and rural America has always made sense to me.

When I covered the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump often went to remote farm communities where Democrats, and even other Republican candidates, never bothered.

Democratic female freshmen signal Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t represent them
Democrats with military, CIA backgrounds unite to fundraise for each other

Democratic House freshmen banding together to help each other raise money to keep their seats in 2020 are, from left, Reps. Mikie Sherrill, Abigail Spanberger, Elissa Slotkin, and Chrissy Houlahan, along with Rep. Elaine Luria. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Five freshman Democratic women in the House want the world to know that the newcomers receiving the most attention so far in the 116th Congress aren’t reflective of the women who ran and won in tough districts last fall.

At an event to tout their formation of a joint fundraising committee to tap each other’s donors (and hopefully bring in more), the five, all with military or intelligence backgrounds, never mentioned New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by name.

Native American representation on Capitol Hill concerns House lawmakers
Appropriators take aim at what they call offensive art and disrespectful tours

House Appropriators are urging the Architect of the Capitol to work with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian to contextualize portrayals of Native Americans on Capitol Hill. Former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe and pictured here, spoke at the opening of the museum in 2004. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo.)

House lawmakers are raising issues about Native American representation in and around the Capitol — and they aren’t talking about the record number of Native American women in the 116th Congress.

A House Appropriations Committee report released Wednesday highlights disrespectful descriptions of Native Americans on Capitol tours and depictions in artwork around the Capitol campus, which “do not portray Native Americans as equals or Indian nations as independent sovereigns.” 

FBI director wants to ‘up our game’ on election interference
Other countries have been eyeing Russia’s efforts in 2016 and the ‘threat just keeps escalating,’ Wray tells senators

FBI Director Christopher Wray, left, arrives for a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing Tuesday with Chairman Jerry Moran. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

FBI Director Christopher Wray told senators Tuesday that “there are still more messages to be sent” to Russia when it comes to interference in American elections, as the bureau prepares to combat foreign meddling efforts during the 2020 elections.

Other countries have been eyeing Russia’s efforts in 2016 and “entertaining whether or not to take a page out of that book,” Wray said, fueling many of the questions from Senate appropriators as they pondered what resources the FBI needs in fiscal 2020.