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Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said a bill to restructure the IRS is on the way. Brady told CNBC on Thursday the reforms will be included in phase two of the Republican tax plan to be introduced in April and will make the agency more taxpayer-oriented. He says a new and improved tax code requires a new and improved IRS. (House Ways and Means Committee)
Though the Senate passed a $1.3 trillion dollar spending package in the early hours of Friday morning to avoid a government shutdown, President Donald Trump said he is considering vetoing it. In an 8:55 a.m. tweet, the President said he did not like how the bill does not provide funding for a wall along the southern border, or address longstanding immigration issues. The bill now must be signed by midnight to avoid a government shutdown.
The spending bill makes no changes to pay for civilian employees in 2018. It continues a pay freeze from 2013 for political appointees and other senior officials. The administration’s reorganization plans have more hurdles though. The bill says agencies cannot reduce, eliminate, or cut a program or office without first getting congressional approval. (Federal News Radio)
The spending package includes $655 billion in defense spending, which will go toward increasing active duty troop levels and funding a 2.4 percent raise in military pay. (Federal News Radio)
The omnibus spending bill does not include three major veterans policies that congressional Veterans Affairs Department leadership advocated: consolidated community care programs, an expansion of Veterans Affairs caregiver program, and a VA asset and infrastructure review program. House VA Committee Chairman Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), Senate VA Committee leadership Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) struck a deal on these programs. But the deal fell through. VA itself will get $7 billion more in 2018, compared to the previous year. (Federal News Radio)
Congressional appropriators granted the wish of IT modernization advocates and the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) Board will indeed have work to do this year. House and Senate lawmakers agreed on the 2018 omnibus spending bill and included $100 million for the governmentwide fund to help agencies move off legacy systems. OMB formed the board earlier this month, and it began reviewing agency proposals to receive some money from the TMF. It was unclear whether Congress would appropriate any money for the fund, leaving the board in limbo. The House passed the spending bill Thursday and the Senate must approve it before midnight to avert a partial government shutdown.
The Trump administration’s latest plan for a new FBI headquarters will not get any funding in the new omnibus spending package. Last month, it proposed building a new headquarters on the site of the J. Edgar Hoover building, instead of building a new campus in Maryland or Virginia. Lawmakers wanted more details about the project before approving it. (Federal News Radio)
Lawmakers have some concerns about the Pentagon’s plan for a multi-billion dollar cloud computing contract. The budget agreement Congress reached Wednesday night includes language expressing worries about Defense Department’s plan to issue the contract to a single vendor, and that the award could last for as long as 10 years. It requires the department to report back with written justifications for those elements of the “JEDI” contract within the next two months. Before that, DoD will have to deliver a detailed report to Congress on how much it plans to spend on all of its cloud services, how it plans to secure them, and certifications that it has consulted with the military services before proceeding with the JEDI initiative. (Federal News Radio)
Employees at civilian agencies could soon have the opportunity to take temporary assignments at other agencies to help with cybersecurity challenges. Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) introduced the Federal Cyber Joint Duty Program Act. The bill is modeled after the DoD and intelligence community successful joint duty programs. The goal is to let civilian agency employees develop multi-agency and policy expertise on cyber threats and expand their professional networks. (Sen. Gary Peters)
A new bill would let the Homeland Security and Justice Departments take or destroy your drone. DoD is currently the only government agency with that authority. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), said expanding it will protect against crime while encouraging the growth of drone technology and availability. (Rep. Vicky Hartzler)
The Justice Department formed a special unit to focus on a single state. The Public Integrity Special Investigations Unit will focus on corrupt public officials, misuse of tax dollars and suspected criminality in West Virginia. That includes state and local officials, and federal employees in the state. U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said the unit will include people from the FBI, Postal Service inspector general, IRS criminal investigations and several other federal agencies. Plus West Virginia law enforcement officials. (Department of Justice)