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Risk of Budget Impasses Rises – Plus the DorobekINSIDER’s 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

But Up Front: Budget Unrest on the Rise

  • Risk of a budget impasse rises. “The White House and congressional Republicans on Tuesday ratcheted up the chances of another down-to-the-wire budget showdown in the fall, with both sides digging in on their policy positions and offering little evidence that negotiations are under way…The policy differences have the potential to engulf Congress in a chaotic and cloudy September, with multiple deadlines looming that could affect financial markets, businesses and consumers. Congress must settle on new plans to fund the government by the end of the fiscal year in September, and the Treasury Department could hit the debt ceiling and run out of room to borrow money to pay its bills sometime during October or November. Time is short, as both the House and Senate are set to leave Washington in 10 days and won’t return until the second week of September.” Corey Boles and Damian Paletta in The Wall Street Journal.
  • NSA Says It Can’t Search Its Own Emails:The NSA is a “supercomputing powerhouse” with machines so powerful their speed is measured in thousands of trillions of operations per second. The agency turns its giant machine brains to the task of sifting through unimaginably large troves of data its surveillance programs capture. But ask the NSA, as part of a freedom of information request, to do a seemingly simple search of its own employees’ email? The agency says it doesn’t have the technology. “There’s no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately,” NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker told me last week.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. Late Tuesday night, the House voted to prohibit civilian Defense Department employees from being furloughed. According to The Hill, the amendment from Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo) was attached to the 2014 Defense Department spending bill. Supports of the proposal criticize Obama for not coming up with a more logical answer to the sequester, while opponents say defense workers should not be given a preference over other federal workers furloughed.

  2. Also on Tuesday, a Senate subcommittee approved a bill to substantially increase funding for the IRS and several other agencies in the upcoming fiscal year. The Washington Post reports that the Senate bill would provide $23.2 billion in spending for various agencies, up $1.8 billion, including $12 billion for the IRS, up nearly $280 million. This is at odds with a House counterpart bill, which slashes resources by nearly 20 percent.

  3. Obama’s nominee to be the Homeland Security Department’s Number 2 official, Alejandro Mayorkas, is under investigation after allegedly intervening to get approval for a company run by Hillary Clinton’s brother to participate in a program that provides U.S. visas to foreign investors. According to NBC News, Gulf Coast Funds Management, a financing company headed by Anthony Rodham, was initially rejected to participate in the program. Mayorkas currently serves as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS), an agency within Homeland Security.

  4. The House Appropriations Interior and Environment subcommittee voted 7-4 to cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by a third, essentially blocking a central part of Obama’s climate agenda. POLITICO reports that the subcommittee approved a $24.3 billion spending plan that would reduce the EPA and Interior Department budgets beyond the reductions agreed to under sequestration. Further, the EPA’s budget will be reduced by 34 percent, leaving the agency with only $5.5 billion next year.
  5. To successfully implement Obama’s Climate Action Plan, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will restructure the Energy Department’s leadership structure, specifically at the undersecretary level. According to POLITICO, Moniz will create positions for an undersecretary for management and performance, ultimately consolidating the department’s defense waste cleanup efforts and merging the energy and science programs. Moniz asserts that the plan will improve “the effectiveness and efficiency of Departmental operations.”

  6. In a recent report, the Treasury found that IRS executives traveled more than 200 days between 2011 and 2012, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars. The Hill reports that the top 15 travelers combined for more than $1 million in expenses each of those years, about a quarter of travel expenses for all executives. Ultimately, the report found that this travel was not excessive as roughly 60 percent of top officials live in the D.C. area and travel costs come in under $5 million for both 2011 and 2012.
  7. The Justice Department is not hiring new employees, but not paying them. According to Government Executive, the agency has posted dozens of unpaid positions on its website. These positions are not just unpaid summer internships, but are for “experienced attorneys” with a law degree and bar certification. Justice was forced to cut $1.6 billion for their budget this year and is under a hiring freeze, unless of course the new hires are uncompensated.

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