Senior government officials are incredibly nervous about legislative proposals aimed at making them more accountable and making it easier to fire corrupt or inefficient workers, and say these ideas will likely prompt many of them to retire early rather than risk being fired.
The Senior Executives Association, which represents senior executive service (SES) officials in the government, released a report Wednesday that said almost none of the nearly 500 current and former SES workers polled believe these “at will” employment proposals are a good idea. Some said the accountability measures would create a culture of “fear” in the government, while others said it would no longer be worth working for the government with these changes in place.
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Thirteen senators from both parties want FIFA, the global soccer association, to strip Russia’s right to the 2018 World Cup, and said letting Russia host the tournament would only reward President Vladimir Putin when he should instead be punished for his actions in and around Ukraine.
“Allowing Russia to host the FIFA World Cup inappropriately bolsters the prestige of the Putin regime at a time when it should be condemned and provides economic relief at a time when much of the international community is imposing economic sanctions,” the senators wrote.Read More »
Democrats in the House and Senate warned this week that climate change is real and is the proximate cause of more extreme weather-related events across the U.S. and the world.
“Climate change is driving more severe drought and wildfires in the west, larger and more frequent floods in the midwest, and sea level rise and greater storm damage along our coasts,” they wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama. “Vulnerable populations, like children with asthma and the elderly, are suffering from higher levels of smog in our cities and longer, more severe heat waves.”Read More »
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said President Barack Obama made a grave error by extending the Iran nuclear talks for at least another day, and said that decision shows Iran has the upper hand in the negotiations.
“The fact that the president is willing to go back on his own words from just a few weeks ago and extend past the March 31 deadline sends a signal of weakness to the Iranians, and that’s the problem we’ve had since the beginning of these negotiations over a year ago,” Cotton said on Fox News.Read More »
President Barack Obama on Tuesday vetoed a resolution disapproving of a new federal regulation that Republicans say will put companies at an unfair disadvantage when their employees try to unionize.
Earlier this month, the House and Senate each passed a resolution disapproving of what some call the National Labor Relations Board’s “ambush election” rule. That rule could force companies to allow union elections just 11 days after they’re notified that an election was called — Republicans say that’s way too fast, and that current rules already allow for reasonably quick votes.Read More »
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Tuesday that his agency’s policy is not to allow any use of personal email for work, and said he learned about that policy almost instantly when he sent a few work emails to his personal account in order to work from home. He said IT workers at the IRS talked to him about those emails “within a couple of days.”
In contrast, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent more than four years at State using her personal email, and working with her top aides who also used their personal email. But instead of putting a stop to that practice, the State Department accepted it, and only recently became aware that Clinton may have been holding onto some work-related emails that she never gave back to the government.Read More »
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Tuesday that he wants everyone in the near future to do their taxes online, through a government account that people would set up through the tax collection agency.
“The idea is that taxpayers would have an account at the IRS where they or their preparers can log in securely, get all the information about their account, and interact with the IRS as needed,” he said at a National Press Club speech in Washington.
“Most things that taxpayers need to do to fulfill their obligations could be done virtually, and there would be much less need for in-person help, either by waiting in line at an IRS assistance center or calling the IRS,” he added.
Koskinen’s request comes just months after the IRS has been blamed for sharing confidential taxpayer information, and targeting conservative groups that were seeking tax-exempt status. Many conservatives are still outraged over that treatment, which could make it difficult to convince some that they should create an online account with the IRS.
But Koskinen noted the IRS targeting scandal, and money wasted on videos and conferences, and said the IRS is past those issues and has addressed them fully.
“We’ve addressed them, so we think they won’t happen again, and it really does make it a new day at the IRS,” he said. “It’s not the IRS of 2010, 2011 or even 2012.”
Koskinen said that goal is one the IRS is pursuing in order to evolve and let people pay taxes just as they pay other bills online.
“We need to look at the future in a more comprehensive way and consider of how we can take advantage of the latest technology to move the entire taxpayer experience to a new level, and do it in a way that is cost-effective for the government,” he said. “Our goal is for taxpayers to have a more complete online experience for all their transactions with the IRS.”
But while Koskinen said this goal is “not unrealistic,” he acknowledged again that the IRS is using some computer systems that were in use decades ago. Koskinen has said the IRS needs more funding to improve its information technology system, but said again that the scandals of the last few years have prompted Congress to pare back funding.
“The underfunding of the agency is the most critical challenge facing the IRS today,” he said.
The current IRS budget is $10.9 billion, and the IRS has asked for $12.9 billion for 2016 to start this work and do other things. For example, he has said the agency needs about half a billion dollars to implement Obamacare.Read More »
House Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Tuesday formally asked Hillary Clinton to appear before his committee to take questions about her decision to use a personal email account while serving as Secretary of State.
The request came just days after Clinton’s lawyers said Clinton had deleted all non-work emails from her personal server, a move that Republicans say was made without any outside review of what might have been on those emails. Gowdy has said he still sees gaps in the work emails his committee has received from Clinton, which leaves open the possibility that some emails related to the 2012 attack in Benghazi may have been deleted.
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The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General is preparing to issue a damning report that says the VA’s Philadelphia office needs to make radical improvements in almost every way it serves veterans — from the most basic level of how it opens and stores veterans claims it receives in the mail, to a full investigation of whether VA staff purposefully ignored these claims.
The OIG has been working on its Philadelphia report for months, and while the detailed report is expected in the coming days or weeks, TheBlaze obtained a copy of the draft set of 35 recommendations it will make for the troubled office (see below for all 35 recommendations).Read More »
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned Monday that Republicans would vote to terminate aid to the United Nations if President Barack Obama runs to the U.N. for approval of an Iran nuclear deal without first consulting Congress.
“To the president, if you take this deal to the U.N. Security Council first, if you go to the United Nations before you come to your own Congress, there will be a backlash like you’ve never seen in Congress, and we’ll suspend aid to the U.N. because that would be so provocative,” Graham told Fox News.Read More »
Democrats are once again proposing to expand the federal school lunch program to weekends and holidays, to create a full-time nutrition program during the school year for kids who are most at risk of going hungry when school is out.
The federal school lunch program currently gives kids free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch. But the sponsor of the Weekends Without Hunger Act, Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), says thousands of kids run the risk of going hungry any time school is out, and that the federal government needs to step in and fill that gap.Read More »
When the Obama administration introduced new nutrition guidelines last year for food served at school, many grumbled that it meant the end of fun snacks, soda and sugary treats that most kids love to gobble up.
For the most part, that’s exactly what happened. That’s led to endless complaints that the federal government is too intrusive, and in some cases isn’t letting kids eat enough, especially if they’re bigger than average or are involved in sports that burn a lot of calories.Read More »
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has brushed aside a damning government report that said he exerted political influence in order to win visas for investors who otherwise would have been turned down, by saying the report came from “whiners” in the government.
“The Homeland Security report came from a bunch of whiners at the Department of Homeland Security,” Reid told KNPR radio. “They felt, I guess, that they weren’t included in my conversation. Maybe I should have called them.”
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The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General has started a formal investigation into how one senior VA official was paid more than a quarter of a million dollars in relocation expenses when she was transferred from Washington, D.C., to lead the Philadelphia regional office.
It was reported last week that Philadelphia VA Director Diana Rubens was paid $288,206.77 when she relocated to Philadelphia in 2014. That’s more than $250,000 more than the average relocation expense normally offered to VA officials, according to data provided by the House Veterans Affairs Committee.Read More »
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Sunday that congressional Republicans would waste no time voting to impose new sanctions against Iran if there is no agreed framework in place the early this week under which Iran would scale back its nuclear ambitions.
Boehner was asked on CNN how quickly Congress would move if the March 31 deadline passes without any agreement, and answered, “Very.”Read More »
Senate Republicans have broken their promise to treat Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch fairly and to give her a vote in a reasonable period of time, White House spokesman Josh Earnest argued Friday.
“I think we’re up to 139 days now,” Earnest told reporters. “And again, that represents an unconscionable delay on the part of Republicans who previously promised to consider her nomination in a timely fashion and to treat her fairly.”Read More »