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Shows & Panels
Search Tags: House
Congress has made quick work, so far, of the 12 annual bills setting agency spending for fiscal 2013. Over the past few months, the House Appropriations Committee has approved 10 of the bills, and the full House has OK'd five of them. The full Senate has approved no appropriations bill so far this year, however the committee has reported out eight bills.
The six-month stopgap spending bill unveiled by the House Appropriations Committee this week officially continues the federal pay freeze until at least March. The continuing resolution, which runs through March 27, gives lawmakers more time to make appropriations for the coming year and staves off the threat of a government shutdown. When a broad CR was first announced last month, the full Congress had not yet approved any fiscal 2013 spending bills. President Barack Obama proposed last month a 0.5 percent pay raise that would only take effect once Congress passed a 2013 budget — a de facto extension of the current two-year freeze. The CR makes the extension official.
Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the ranking member of the Senate committee, called on VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to fire his chief of staff, John Gingrich after an inspector general report said he failed to ask the right questions before approving two training conferences. The conferences costs $6.1 million, with as much as $762,000 in questionable spending.
Last year, the FDA proposed a policy to test apps that included "very high-risk interventions" that did not cause any unintended consequences. The agency is now expected to release final policy by the end of this year on which apps it will oversee.
Stan Collender, a budget expert and partner at Qorvis Communications, said nobody should panic just yet about possible automatic, across-the- board cuts. They won't be enacted immediately, he told the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris. And Congress could still wiggle out of them.
Congress is demanding more answers about how $1.2 trillion in budget cuts set to take effect in January will be applied across the government. The House Budget Committee Wednesday unanimously approved a bill directing the Obama administration to provide Congress a report that provides specific details about how the spending cuts will affect federal agencies and programs. Meanwhile, the House Armed Services Committee formally requested that the head of the Office of Management and Budget, Jeff Zients, testify before the committee on the "mechanics and impact" of the automatic cuts.
Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), whose district in the Washington, D.C., suburbs is home to many federal employees, said he understands the frustration voiced by federal unions about a de facto extension of the federal pay freeze. Sarbanes said too often lawmakers used federal pay and benefits as a "piggybank" in deficit- reduction efforts.
The Senate unanimously approved a bill Tuesday expanding protections for federal whistleblowers. The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, authored and introduced by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), the chairman of a Senate subcommittee on the federal workforce, updates a 1989 law protecting government whistleblowers.
Current and former officials at the General Services Administration will face a gauntlet of congressional hearings this week, following reports of excessive spending on a 2010 regional training conference and other programs. In an interview on In Depth with Francis Rose, former Virginia Congressman and Chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Tom Davis shared his insights and what to look for during the hearings.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is probing more than 150 conferences hosted by 11 agencies since 2005 where wasteful spending or excessive spending may have have occurred, according to a committee release. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the oversight chairman, said the committee is using the lavish $823,000 regional conference hosted by the General Services Administration in 2010 as a "benchmark" to compare other agencies' conference spending. The committee found the Defense Department has held 64 such conferences.