TIME 2016 Election

GOP Congresswomen Have Some Advice for Their Party’s 2016 Candidates

Reps. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., right, and Mimi Walters, R-Calif., are pictured during the election for Speaker before the 114th Congress was sworn in on the House floor, January 6, 2015.
Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call,Inc. Reps. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., right, and Mimi Walters, R-Calif., are pictured during the election for Speaker before the 114th Congress was sworn in on the House floor, January 6, 2015.

House Republican women have some advice for the largely male field of 2016 would be GOP presidential nominees hoping to take on Hillary Clinton: listen to us before you speak.

“Women are the majority!” exclaimed Rep. Martha McSally, an Arizona Republican, referring to the fact that America is 52% female. “We really have to watch our language when we’re talking about some of these issues. … The language just turns women off because we come off as the party of just cold, lack of compassion.”

McSally cited an exit poll in the 2012 presidential election that showed that 81.2% of voters felt President Obama “cared about people like me,” compared to just 17.6% of voters for Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Romney lost the election in large part because he lost women by 12 percentage points to President Obama. And though Republicans in 2014 won back the Senate and made gains in the House, they only incrementally added women: a net of two in the House and one in the Senate. And they net lost one female governor.

Pundits often talk about GOP demographic challenges with minorities and young voters, but since the so-called War on Women petered out after 2012— after Republicans figured out how to stop saying egregiously insulting things about rape, little has been said about the GOP’s biggest demographic challenge: women. “We have a problem,” said Mimi Walters, a California Republican and the freshman representative on the House leadership team, “and we’re working to address it.”

The conservative National Review magazine and Google gathered five Republican Congresswomen—McSally, Walters, Missouri’s Ann Wagner, McSally, Walters, Virginia’s Barbara Comstock and New York’s Elise Stefanik—on Tuesday to talk about the challenges their party faces with women. All agreed that the GOP candidates needed to be consulting them, especially when the eventual nominee will likely be running against a woman: Hillary Clinton. “I will tell you: we will fail, and these men will fail, if they try and package [Clinton] as someone who’s stupid and doesn’t know her job, hasn’t done her job, and isn’t real, isn’t strong,” said Wagner, who is the sophomore class’ leadership representative. “They need us at the table to remind them of the words to use, the words not to use.”

All of the women said they had heard from one or more of the campaigns and were consulting with them and/or the Republican National Committee. They also spoke of their own efforts to find and elect more women to Congress, though they acknowledged that that effort was hamstrung by the limited number of competitive races given how gerrymandered congressional districts have become.

On the presidential level, Comstock said it was important that the campaigns hire senior women to run them, which could be a challenge because women don’t like to take risky jobs that may not lead to permanent employment should their candidate lose, Comstock said. So, she said, the campaigns had to be proactive and seek women out.

“One of the things I’ve asked them is: where am I at the table? Who do you have on staff?” Comstock said. “The reality is if there are women at the top they recruit other women and bring them in and that is also something I have been demanding of the candidates.”

So far the candidates don’t seem to be listening too closely. Only one major candidate has a female campaign manager: Mike Huckabee’s daughter Sarah is running her dad’s bid. A quick search reveals that of the top 16 GOP candidates, only Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul have set up “Women for…” pages on Facebook.

That said, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina—one of the 13 without a dedicated page for women—has spent a lot of time courting the women’s vote. “I hope she makes the top 10, I think she’s been very effective in going after Hillary Clinton,” said Wagner, referring to the debate cutoff of the top 10 candidates in polling. “I think she’s done it in a way that’s responds with women.”

In the latest round of surveys, Fiorina broke into the top 10 for the first time, with 3% of the vote.

TIME justice

Obama Calls for Sweeping Criminal Justice Reforms in NAACP Speech

President Barack Obama speaks during the NAACP's 106th National Convention in Philadelphia on July 14, 2015.
Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images President Barack Obama speaks during the NAACP's 106th National Convention in Philadelphia on July 14, 2015.

President Obama outlined an ambitious roadmap for criminal justice reform during an address at the NAACP convention Tuesday.

In a 45-minute speech, Obama called for reducing or eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, reviewing the use of the solitary confinement and barring employers from asking job applicants about their criminal history, among other things.

“Any system that allows us to turn a blind-eye to hopelessness and despair, that’s not a justice system, that’s an injustice system,” Obama said Tuesday. “Justice is not only the absence of oppression, it’s the presence of opportunity.”

While Obama has touched on many of the individual policy ideas in the past, the speech was the first in recent memory to tie them all together into a blueprint for action. The speech likely presages a series of upcoming executive actions on criminal justice reform.

The speech varied, with Obama at times speaking passionately about the need for reform, and at other times delving into statistics to make his case.

Obama’s remarks included a litany of daunting statistics: that America is home to 5% of world’s population but 25% of world’s prisons, that African Americans and Latinos make up 30% of the U.S. population, but 60% of American inmates. But Obama said he’s found hope in the fact that politicians on both sides of the aisle have taken up the issue.

MORE: Bipartisan Push for Criminal Justice Reform Sets Its Agenda

Back in in Washington, a bipartisan group of Senators gathered on Tuesday to discuss getting criminal justice reform passed this legislative year. In the House, a group of lawmakers formed a caucus focused on criminal justice reform.

“We’re at a moment when some good people in both parties, Republicans and Democrats, and folks all across the country are coming together around ideas to make the system work smarter. To make it work better and I’m determined to do my part, wherever I can,” Obama said in a video posted to Facebook on Monday.

At the NAACP convention in Philadelphia, Obama noted the “strange bedfellows” that efforts to reform the criminal justice system have created, among them the Koch brothers and the NAACP. At one point, he even quoted Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who is running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, drawing a mixed response from the crowd.

Obama told the crowd early on that he wasn’t going to sing, but the commander-in-chief did some preaching on a topic that has been a focus of his second term agenda. Initiatives including the Department of Justice’s Smart on Crime program aimed at reducing the impact of our nation’s dated drug laws, My Brother’s Keeper, and the Clemency Project have all been Obama-led initiatives to reform the criminal justice system.

MORE: Watch President Obama Sing ‘Amazing Grace’ at Slain Pastor’s Funeral

The initiatives have not been without criticism, however—lawmakers have long called for more action on policies that reduce sentences and provide more opportunities to communities that are more often impacted by tough sentencing laws.

The speech came at the start of a week marked by hefty achievements by the Obama administration on the criminal justice front. On Monday, Obama reduced the sentences of 46 federal inmates who had been incarcerated for committing non-violent, low-level drug offenses over the past two decades. The new round of commutations brings Obama’s total issued up to 89—more than any U.S. president since Lyndon Johnson. The commutations were the latest in the administration’s effort to rollback some of the damage caused by the nation’s drug laws.

On Thursday, Obama will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit a federal prison when he travels to Federal Correctional Institution El Reno. Obama is expected to meet with inmates during the prison stop, and on Tuesday he said he met with four—one Latino, one white, and two black—before jumping on stage at the convention.

“While people in our prisons have made some mistakes, and sometimes big mistakes. They are also Americans and we have to make sure that as they do their time that we are increasing the possibility that they can turn their lives around,” Obama said. “Justice and redemption go hand in hand.”

Read Next: Will Congress Reform the Criminal Justice System?

TIME

Martin O’Malley Pledges to Go Further Than Obama on Immigration

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley delivers remarks before U.S. President Barack Obama takes the stage at a Costco store January 29, 2014 in Lanham, Maryland.
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley delivers remarks before U.S. President Barack Obama takes the stage at a Costco store January 29, 2014 in Lanham, Maryland.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Tuesday called for a broad sweep of executive actions to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation and detention, touting his work as governor of Maryland and saying he would go further than President Obama as he seeks to attract the support of Hispanic voters.

Speaking at a roundtable in downtown Manhattan and surrounded by a group of immigration activists, O’Malley condemned current immigration laws and said reform was necessary for “making the economy work for all of us.”

“We are, and always have been, a nation of immigrants and our immigration laws must reflect our values,” he said. “The enduring symbol of our nation is the Statue of Liberty, not a barbed wire fence.”

O’Malley said that he would go beyond Obama’s executive actions in securing relief to undocumented immigrants. “I believe that every president moves the ball down the field as much as they can,” O’Malley said. “I would move it farther.”

Obama’s executive actions, however, have been stopped up in federal courts, and it’s unclear whether further executive actions would be effective.

The two-term Maryland governor called for deferred action to provide immediate deportation relief to all individuals covered by the Senate’s immigration reform bill, which was halted by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

He also called for expanding healthcare coverage to undocumented parents and children who are already protected from deportation, limiting detention of illegal immigrants, providing legal advice immigrants threatened with deportation and creating an independent agency to advise eligibility for immigration to the United States.

O’Malley said in a statement that he was confident that his proposed actions would be deemed legal, despite the challenges in federal courts to President Obama’s immigration executive action. “Legal experts almost universally agree” that Obama’s actions will be upheld, O’Malley claimed.

Some of O’Malley’s proposals delved into the deeper complexities of immigration law, in line with the governor’s wonky approach to policy proposals which the campaign has prided itself on.

For example, many immigrants who have legal status must return to their home countries to obtain an a green card, but if they previously lived in the United States as undocumented immigrants, they are barred from reentering for 3 or 10 years. O’Malley said he would grant broad waivers to those immigrants.

The policies, O’Malley said, are not about “identity politics” or appealing to any particular demographic of voters. “It’s really about us,” O’Malley said repeating a common refrain he has used on the campaign trail. “U-dot-S. The U.S.”

“When we have national election for president, it’s more than filling a job, it’s an opportunity to forge a new consensus,” O’Malley said.

As governor, O’Malley signed a laws making it easier for undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licenses and pay in-state tuition rates at college.

O’Malley’s comments won early approval from some immigration activists like the Dream Act Coalition. Jorge Ramos, the widely influential Univision news anchor, tweeted in Spanish, “Governor Martin O’Malley today proposed the most ambitious immigration plan among all candidates (with health insurance).”

Cesar Vargas, co-director of the Dream Act Coalition, praised the plan for being detailed.

“Unlike other candidates of both parties, Governor O’Malley’s immigration platform is bold and has concrete details, particularly that he will commit to executive action first year of office,” he said in a statement.

TIME Innovation

How Splitting the Euro Will Save It

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. It’s time to split the euro in two.

By Frida Ghitis at CNN

2. Can we fix our broken Congress by bringing back earmarks?

By Jonathan Allen in Vox

3. When peer pressure is a good thing.

By Philip Hoy in Zócalo Public Square

4. You can’t monetize a digital community.

By Rachel Happe in Social Media Today

5. How to build better passwords.

By Julia Angwin in ProPublica

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Lobbying

How a Federal Lab Lobbied With Taxpayer Dollars

The exterior of the Center for National Security and Arms Control at Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, N.M. in Aug. 1997.
Eric Drape—AP The exterior of the Center for National Security and Arms Control at Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, N.M. in Aug. 1997.

The Energy Department’s Inspector General said this was a violation of federal law.

Top officials at one of the U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories secretly drew up a careful list of targets in 2009. But these were not Russian missile silos or Chinese leadership targets. The officials’ aim was instead to hit a small group of policymakers in Washington with enough political pressure to ensure that the laboratory’s managers could get a lucrative new, 7-year federal contract.

To ensure victory – which to the corporation controlling the lab meant avoiding a messy competition with any other corporations – those at the helm of Sandia National Laboratories devised what they called a “capture strategy” for senior Obama administration officials, according to a laboratory internal document. In part, it entailed hiring three high-priced consultants, at a total expense to taxpayers of up to half a million dollars, who helped craft the target list.

Those on the list were in many cases the usual suspects — members of Congress who served on key committees, their staffs, top Department of Energy officials, a governor of New Mexico and a retired senator. Meetings were held, emails were sent, letters were written, and Washington-based corporate staff was enlisted, all with the aim of keeping the Lockheed Martin Corporation in control at Sandia.

This was, Sandia said in one of its position papers, not merely in the corporation’s best interest, but in the country’s. “We believe,” one of the lab officials said at one point, “it is best for LM [Lockheed Martin], Sandia, and the nation to work together towards influencing DOE to retain this team.” Another message was blunt: “It is in the taxpayer’s best interest to not compete for competition’s sake, but to use the regulatory processes already available” to keep the existing contractor.

While this might seem predictable – after all, what federal contractor would not be eager to keep the federal monies coming in? – it is nonetheless noteworthy for one reason in particular: The analyzing, the strategizing, and the lobbying to get a new contract were all funded by the existing federal contract, according to the Energy Department’s Inspector General, who said this was a violation of federal law, not to mention Sandia’s contract language.

“We recognize that LMC [Lockheed Martin Corporation], as a for-profit entity, has a corporate interest in the future of the Sandia Corporation contract,” said Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman in his Nov. 7, 2014 “Official Use Only” report, which was released to the Center for Public Integrity under a Freedom of Information Act request. “However, the use of Federal funds to advance that interest through actions designed to result in a noncompetitive contract extension was, in our view, prohibited by Sandia Corporation’s contract and Federal law and regulations.”

“Given the specific prohibitions against such activity, we could not comprehend the logic of using Federal funds for the development of a plan to influence members of Congress and federal officials to, in essence, prevent competition,” Friedman said in the report.

Sandia did not see it that way. Its officials told Friedman’s investigators they were merely trying to inform officials in Washington about the work they were doing, an explanation Friedman said was contradicted by the lab’s internal documents.

At stake in the three-year effort was the Lockheed Martin Corporation’s proposal for a 7-year contract extension, with the option for a 5-year renewal after that. While the company’s prospective revenues were not stated in the report, the existing contract called for spending, on average, about $2.4 billion a year. So the total revenues might have exceeded $16 billion.

“Sandia National Laboratories has cooperated fully with the government’s review of this matter,” Heather Clark, a spokeswoman for Sandia National Laboratory, said in language that resembled a statement she issued when a truncated summary of Friedman’s report was first released by the Energy Department last November. “We will continue to work closely with the Inspector General’s office, the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration to address all the IG’s recommendations. We are hopeful this matter will soon be resolved.”

In 2009, the report explains, Sandia Corp. hired a consulting firm headed by former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, R-New Mexico, and two unnamed former employees of the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, at least one of whom previously had oversight authority at the lab. Wilson’s company, Heather Wilson, LLC, provided explicit directions about how to influence the most crucial decision-makers in the contract-award process, according to the IG report.

“Lockheed Martin should aggressively lobby Congress, but keep a low profile,” Wilson’s firm advised, according to notes from a meeting obtained during the investigation.

The notes showed that Wilson’s firm instructed Lockheed Martin to “work key influencers” by targeting then Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s staff — as well as his family, friends, and even his former colleagues at another Energy Department laboratory — and by enlisting former members of Congress to endorse extending Lockheed Martin’s contract without competition.

Wilson has publicly denied that she personally took part in the interactions between her firm and Lockheed Martin involving the Sandia contract. Reached by phone, she declined to answer questions and promised a statement, which did not arrive before the deadline for this publication. Sandia Corp. has said it already repaid the Energy Department $226,378 for the federal money that it spent with Wilson’s firm.

But Friedman went further: He urged the department to determine whether it should recover the money spent by Sandia on the other two consultants, and on the salaries of Sandia officials and employees who worked on the new contract “capture strategy.” Asked if anyone at the department had pursued this effort, a spokeswoman for the National Nuclear Security Administration — which oversees Sandia’s work — did not reply before the deadline for publication.

A Justice Department spokesman, asked if a federal investigation was under way into what Friedman depicted as a violation of federal laws, similarly did not reply before the deadline for this publication.

The copy of Friedman’s report that was released to CPI was heavily redacted to withhold names. But it made clear that Sandia’s push for a long-range, no-bid contract extension under the present administration was not the first attempt to lobby public officials at taxpayers’ expense. “Perhaps [Sandia National Laboratories] felt empowered because it had improperly directed Federal funds to similar activities in the past,” the Inspector General’s report said, in a phrase that did not appear in the November public summary.

A Department of Energy official in 2009 warned lab leaders that their actions “crossed the line” when reports to Congress recommended funding levels for particular programs and policy positions, actions the officials compared to illegal lobbying, according to the report. But in a 2010 email, one of Sandia’s officials – whose name was redacted – said that using federally funded laboratory staff for purposes of pursuing contract extensions was not a big deal, because it had been done before.

“We used operating costs in the same way in securing the extensions in [1998] and 2003,” the lab official wrote.

Lockheed Martin has received a series of one-year contract extensions since 2012, but its push to lock in a longer-term contract failed. Currently, the management and operation contract for Sandia National Laboratory is up for competitive bid – the precise result that Sandia and Lockheed worked to block. The corporation’s existing contract expires April 30, 2017.

This story is from The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C. To read more of their work on national security, go here or follow them on Twitter.

TIME faith

Inside Pope Francis’ U.S. Trip Schedule

Vatican Pope Francis'
Massimo Valicchia—NurPhoto/AP Pope Francis during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican City, on June 24, 2015.

The schedule says a lot about Pope Francis' focus

Pope Francis’ schedule is almost always a political document. Everyone wants a piece of it, especially when it comes to his upcoming September trip to the U.S. The White House and Congress, not to mention outside groups, have been lobbying for months to try to influence his agenda. On Tuesday morning, the Vatican and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released the official schedule for the trip. Predictably, it is packed. Pope Francis will visit Cuba and the U.S. from Sept. 19-28—four days in Cuba, five in the U.S—and give a total of 26 addresses, 18 of them in the U.S.

The world has known the big-ticket items for months—a meeting with President Obama, an address to the U.S. Congress, a talk at the United Nations, and a mass in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. But the other events hold just as powerful a message. The logistics are often the key to understanding the entire agenda—where Pope Francis is, who he is with, where he is coming from and where he is going next say as much about his message as his words themselves.

This schedule shows the Pope’s diplomatic acumen from the start. Pope Francis comes to Washington only after giving first dibs to Cuba, an island that the U.S. had blackballed economically until he intervened in December. And, Pope Francis will fly directly from there to Joint Base Andrews outside Washington DC, symbolizing the new link he helped to forge between the two nations.

Once he has arrived in the U.S., Pope Francis establishes a pattern—he links political events with pastoral ones. His first full day in Washington, the Pope will meet with Obama at the White House, and then leave to hold midday prayer with the U.S. bishops at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. It is tradition for the pope to gather the bishops when he visits, and leaving the White House for a church shows the value Francis places on the work of the church and its leaders.

The next day, immediately after speaking to the U.S. Congress, he will visit Catholic Charities, the social outreach ministry of the Archdiocese of Washington, which does extensive work to serve the area’s poor, homeless and immigrant communities. The juxtaposition is a not-so-subtle hint about who Pope Francis hopes political leaders will be—politicians who serve the poor, instead of staying isolated in the halls of power.

The pattern continues in New York, where Pope Francis will begin his time with an evening prayer service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral before addressing the U.N. the next morning. From there, he will—again—go directly to an interfaith service at the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center. It is another statement about the importance of solidarity, especially between Christians and Muslims in the face of global extremism. Pope Benedict visited Ground Zero to pray in 2008, but Francis is taking it to another level with an interfaith focus. He will then visit a Catholic elementary school in East Harlem, and celebrate mass in Madison Square Garden.

When Pope Francis goes to Philadelphia, the pattern shifts, but only slightly. The World Meeting of Families, a Catholic gathering of families every three years hosted this time in Philadelphia, was from the start the reason for his trip to the U.S. Here, Francis adds specifically political moments to a primarily pastoral visit. In addition to celebrating mass at the Cathedral Basilica, visiting the Festival of Families, and meeting the bishops at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Pope Francis will visit Philadelphia’s largest prison, the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. What Pope Francis will do there remains to be seen, but his mere presence will both highlight high incarceration rates in the U.S. and make it hard to ignore the Catholic Church’s opposition to the death penalty.

The whole trip concludes with an outdoor mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where Pope John Paul II celebrated mass in 1979.

Francis’ schedule is like a liturgy. It is a roadmap to guide the desired focus of, and communal participation in, his message. And the places he has chosen—Catholic Charities in Washington, a school in Harlem, an interfaith service at Ground Zero, a prison in Philadelphia—will likely end up saying as much about what Francis’ focus is as anything else.

TIME Gay Marriage

Why the Next Gay Rights Push Will Be Different

An anti-discrimination bill won't be limited to gays and lesbians

The Senator leading the push for a comprehensive anti-discrimination bill in Congress tells TIME that he is working with civil rights groups so the coming legislation isn’t just about being gay or lesbian.

Within hours of the Supreme Court’s historic ruling granting same-sex couples the right to marry in every state, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon was laying the groundwork for a sweeping bill that would expand gay rights even further. He says he plans to introduce within the next two months. “We need to put forward a bill that captures that full range. We cannot nibble around the edges,” he said in an interview.

Friday’s ruling, while a tremendous milestone for gay rights, had no effect on what conservative attorney Ted Olson, who argued California’s landmark same-sex marriage case before the Supreme Court, called a “crazy quilt” of laws that unequally treat gays and lesbians.

Indeed, more than 206 million Americans — nearly two thirds of the country — live in states where employers can be fired someone for being gay. Only 18 states and the District of Columbia prohibit housing discrimination based on a tenant’s sexuality or sexual identity. Three others prohibit discrimination based on sexuality. The remaining 166 million Americans live in states where landlords can evict someone for their sexuality.

That’s why Merkley is working with fellow Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Cory Booker of New Jersey on the Senate’s version of a sweeping non-discrimination law that would bar individuals from being denied services—including housing and jobs but also mortgages and education—based on their sexuality. In the House, efforts are being led by Rhode Island’s David Cicilline, an openly gay lawmaker, and civil rights icon John Lewis of Georgia.

“Equal dignity involves equal opportunity. It involves equality in the basic functions of our society,” Merkley said. “There should be the ability for the LGBT community to fully participate without discrimination.”

Merkley is also working with a coalition that includes the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and National Council on La Raza. The American Civil Liberties Union, the National Women’s Law Center and the Human Rights Campaign are also lending their advice to Merkley’s drafting process.

“We want to place nondiscrimination for the LBGT community on the same foundation as is anti-discrimination in the Civil Rights Act,” Merkley said.

The politics, however, could be tricky. Neither House Speaker John Boehner nor Senate Leader Mitch McConnell was a fan of earlier gay rights proposals. Yet that was before the Supreme Court decided all Americans have the right to marry. No Republican is yet publicly working with Merkley’s council.

“There is a sense of acceleration on this. There has been a huge change, year by year,” Merkley said. “The inherent logic is that if you believe that every individual should be able to be married with the person that they love, then you believe that every individual should pursue employment without discrimination. … You surely also believe that people should have equal access to mortgages, equal access to public accommodations, equal access to housing, equal access to all of the fundamentals of our society that give a person a full chance to participate and to thrive.”

TIME Beer

Congress Could Strip Samuel Adams Of Its Craft Beer Crown

Oktoberfest Sponsored By The Village Voice Presented By Jagermeister Hosted By Andrew Zimmern - Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival Presented By FOOD & WINE
Cindy Ord—2014 Getty Images A view of Samuel Adams at Oktoberfest sponsored by The Village Voice presented by Jagermeister hosted by Andrew Zimmern during the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival Presented By FOOD & WINE at Studio Square on October 19, 2014 in New York City.

Congress is ready to get into the craft beer business, which could mean bad news for big batch craft brewers like Sam Adams.

Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, proposed the new Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act that would give the U.S. government the right to define who is and isn’t a craft brewer.

The law essentially redefines the tax structure for small to mid-size brewers and would, accordingly, group them into three categories based on new excise taxes, which was outlined by MarketWatch.

  1. The craft brewers, those producing under 2 million barrels per year would get the deepest tax cuts.
  2. The mid-size brewers, those producing 6 million barrels or less, get a slight tax break.
  3. The macro brewers, which don’t get a tax break beyond their first 6 million barrels of production.

It’s a technicality, essentially a quirk of the law that would group companies for tax purposes. But, it would leave a number of big-name craft brewers out of the first category and in a higher tax bracket. That includes Boston Beer Co., which produces 4.1 million barrels (including non-beer beverages such as Angry Orchard cider and Twisted Tea), as well as Yuengling (2.7 million barrels) and North American Breweries (about 2.6 million barrels) with its Magic Hat, Pyramid and other brands.

Given Boston Beer’s recent production growth, almost 20% per year, it could possibly enter the macro brewer league in less than three years.

Until now, to be labeled a craft beer, breweries had to fit within restrictions designated by the Brewers Association craft beer industry group that involved barrels of production, percentage of a brewery owned by a non-craft brewer and more “traditional” aspects.

The industry self-policer has been somewhat accommodating to its peers in years past. It raised the barrel-production limit to 6 million from 2 million in 2010 to allow Boston Beer to lay claim to the craft beer title.

Boston Beer has been on a production tear in recent years, averaging more than 20% growth annually. If it stays the course, it could possibly reach the 6-million-plus macro brewer league in less than three years, leaving its craft brewing title far behind.

TIME Supreme Court

A Guide to the Supreme Court’s Latest Obamacare Case

What you need to know

If you’re most Americans, you haven’t been paying attention to the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on Obamacare.

A recent poll from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that 72 percent of Americans had heard little or nothing about a lawsuit which could dramatically transform how the Affordable Care Act is implemented.

A decision in King v. Burwell could come as early as Thursday.

That means you probably have questions. Here are some answers.

Could the court decision end Obamacare?

No. Unlike the Supreme Court’s big 2012 decision on the law’s mandate that you buy health insurance, this case doesn’t have a big constitutional question at its heart. The only issue for the court is a narrow technical question about how the law was worded.

So, what is the court deciding?

The case revolves around whether people who live in states that use the federal Healthcare.gov website — and not their own state-run marketplace — can receive subsidies for their insurance costs. Conservatives who filed the suit say the law doesn’t allow that, while liberal defenders argue that section of the law was just poorly worded.

Who will the decision affect?

The Obama Administration estimates that 6.4 million Americans in 34 states would be at risk of losing the subsidies that made their insurance affordable if the Supreme Court rules against it. Other customers could also see higher prices if the decision adversely affects the insurance market in their state.

Which states would be affected?

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

What will the Administration do if the court rules against it?

The Administration says it has no “plan B.” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, who is named in the case, has repeatedly argued that the President’s hands are tied. That means Obama will have to rely on Congress or the states to fix the problem.

What will Congress do?

It’s hard to say. Republicans control both the House and the Senate, and they’re generally opposed to the Affordable Care Act. But many GOP lawmakers think Congress will need to do something. One possibility would be to simply extend the subsidies through 2017, to allow a new — and possibly Republican — president come up with a long-term solution. But Republicans may also want some concessions from President Obama in exchange, such as ending the requirement that individuals buy health insurance. Obama is unlikely to sign a bill that chips away at major features of the law, however.

What happens if Congress doesn’t act?

The problem will fall to the states. Unlike Congress, there’s no simple fix. States would have to start the laborious process of creating their own insurance marketplaces or else find some workaround, like officially designating the federal Healthcare.gov site as their own or borrowing another state’s marketplace. It’s unclear at this point what the options may even be.

Do the states have a plan?

Most do not. Pennsylvania and Delaware have put together plans to create their own exchanges by next year, which would allow residents to continue getting subsidies. But with 26 of the 34 states led by Republican governors — many of whom are opposed to Obamacare — few states have been planning ahead.

What do the 2016 presidential candidates think should be done?

The Democratic presidential candidates will likely argue for Congress to pass a simple fix with no strings attached, although former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has not said exactly what she would propose. The GOP field is divided, but several support some sort of transition period to extend the subsidies long enough to allow the next (possibly Republican) president to have the final say. That would make the future of the Affordable Care Act a major campaign issue for the fourth consecutive election.

Read Next: How Obamacare Has Impacted The Uninsured Rate

TIME Innovation

Fight Prison Gangs by Breaking Up Big Prisons

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. America’s biggest prisons are factories exporting prison gangs. Break them up.

By David Skarbek and Courtney Michaluk in Politico

2. Find out why demographics and a charismatic leader still aren’t enough to make a majority party.

By Suzy Khimm in the New Republic

3. Denied a seat at the table of global power, the BRICS nations are building their own table.

By Shashi Tharoor in Project Syndicate

4. With an implanted treatment that blocks a narcotic high, one doctor wants to end addiction.

By Sujata Gupta in Mosaic Science

5. Your next insurance inspector could be a drone.

By Cameron Graham in Technology Advice

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com