Lawmakers want Trump to exempt VA, veterans from hiring freeze

The Federal Headlines is a daily compilation of the stories you hear discussed on Federal Drive with Tom Temin.

  • A group of 55 members of Congress pleaded with President Donald Trump to exempt the Veterans Affairs Department from his ordered hiring freeze. In a letter, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Rep.Tim Walz (D-Minn.) said the freeze would delay veterans’ access to health care. They also asked Trump to absolve any veteran seeking to work for the government. Veterans made up 32 percent of new government hires in 2015. (Sen. Jon Tester)
  • House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said recent agency directives forbidding outreach violate the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. He said agency memos are a violation because they don’t explain how federal employee communications with inspectors general or members of Congress are protected. Cummings wrote to White House General Counsel asking that agencies rescind these policies. (Federal News Radio)
  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, asked the General Services Administration for a complete, unredacted copy of its lease agreement with President Donald Trump for the Old Post Office building. He said the committee wants to better understand GSA’s use of outlease agreements. He also wants a full list of all federally owned properties currently under lease agreements. (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee)
  • The IRS Commissioner is under fire again. John Koskinen could face renewed tough going once Congress returns from its party retreats. The Washington Examiner reported, Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), chairman of the GOP study committee, drafted a letter he’s showing to colleagues. In it Walker recommends that President Donald Trump fire Koskinen. The letter reportedly has 50 signatures. The dispute dates back to hearings on the 2012 scandal in the IRS tax exempt group. (Washington Examiner)
  • A new bill would consolidate the Senate’s oversight of cybersecurity. Two senators want to create a specific committee to focus on cybersecurity challenges in the public and private sectors. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced a bill to create the Select Committee on Cybersecurity. The lawmakers said the committee would oversee and strengthen nationwide data breach prevention strategies and cyber activities. The committee would include 21 members from the eight committees, including Appropriations, Armed Services and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which have oversight over cyber. Then the committee would include five other at-large members. (Sen. Cory Gardner)
  • The military may get its wish to close down some bases in the future. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), ranking member in the Armed Services Committee, will introduce a bill to bring back Base Realignment and Closure in 2019. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) also has expressed interest in revisiting BRAC, something the Defense Department would be happy about. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Defense Department said its employees significantly outpaced DoD’s own goals for the federal government’s charity donation program. Defense workers were responsible for about 40 percent of the federal employee contributions in the Combined Federal Campaign during 2016 — not surprising, since DoD’s workforce is, by far, the largest in the federal government. But the Pentagon said its employees contributed $14 million through CFC, $5 million above the goal DoD set based on last year’s contributions. About a third of the figure came from military and civilian employees stationed overseas. (Department of Defense)
  • A federal grand jury moved to indict the wife of a former Army civilian employee already facing charges. The indictment accuses John and Danielle Kays of showing preference toward a subcontractor on a technology contract at Aberdeen Proving Ground in exchange for bribes. The subcontractor is under indictment as well. (Department of Justice)
  •  The Navy’s new green uniforms, its Working Uniform Type 3, will be introduced next October. Sailors are allowed to wear the new “green cammies” or their old blue ones, however everyone will be required to own the new clothing by October 2019. The new uniforms are expected to arrive at Navy Exchange Centers this fall. (Navy)