Federal courts can hold out two more weeks under government shutdown

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  • Federal courts will be able to continue operating until Jan. 18 with their limited funds during the partial government shutdown. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said courts are being asked to delay non-mission critical expenses, such as new hires, non-case related travel, and certain contracts. If the shutdown goes past Jan. 18, the Judiciary will only conduct “essential work.” (Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts)
  • Tax refunds will go out on-time, even if a partial government shutdown drags on. The IRS said it will start processing tax returns for the upcoming filing season on Jan. 28. Office of Management and Budget acting director Russ Vought said the Trump administration is reversing course on an Obama administration decision to not issue refunds during a shutdown. The deadline for most taxpayers to file is April 15. (Federal News Network)
  • The IRS will soon order many of its furloughed employees back to work under an updated shutdown guidance. The agency announced it will exempt “a significant portion” of its workforce once it releases a new tax filing season-specific shutdown guidance to employees in “the coming days.” The agency furloughed more than 88 percent of its workforce back in December, under a contingency plan meant to last through Dec. 31. Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) asked Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Monday about an updated shutdown guidance. (IRS)
  • Federal employees working without pay during the partial government shutdown have another lawsuit on their behalf to watch. The National Treasury Employees Union is suing the Trump administration now over the government shutdown. NTEU filed its suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The union said the administration is violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by requiring federal employees to work without pay during the shutdown. NTEU is demanding full compensation for impacted employees and 100 percent matching liquidated damages. NTEU’s lawsuit followed one a private federal employment law firm filed on behalf of the American Federation of Government Employees before the new year. (National Treasury Employees Union)
  • The Army and the EPA said the government shutdown is delaying their plans to implement the Trump administration’s new “Waters of the United States” rule. The proposal would reduce the number of waterways protected by the Clean Water Act. A public hearing set to take place two weeks from now on the new rule has been postponed because most EPA employees are furloughed. The shutdown has also delayed publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register. (Environmental Protection Agency)
  • A group of federal employees said they do not support the partial government shutdown, despite the president’s claims to the contrary. Federal employees at the Census Bureau, NASA, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Housing and Urban Development Department said the shutdown is impacting them personally. They told their stories yesterday at a roundtable with Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). One employee said she’s not sure she’ll be able to secure a mortgage later this month due to the shutdown. Another said she applied for free and reduced school lunches for her daughter because of the shutdown. (Federal News Network)
  • Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, is pressing TSA Administrator David Pekoske on how many TSA officers are calling out sick and what contingency plans the agency has in place to address possible mass call outs. CNN reported hundreds of TSA officers from four major airports called out sick last week. TSA responded to the reports on Twitter, writing that screening times are well within the agency’s standards despite the calls outs. (Federal News Network)
  • Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) re-introduced their bill to strengthen the role of the federal chief information officer. The bill passed the House in November, but never got a Senate vote. The bill would rename the Office of E-Government as the Office of the Federal CIO. The federal CIO would report directly to the OMB director and the federal chief information security officer would report directly to the federal CIO. (Rep. Will Hurd)
  • A new congressional committee got its new chairman. Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) will lead the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. Upon being named, Kilmer said the committee is an important step forward in renovating the House. The Select Committee was created in a package of House rules changes spearheaded by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.). The bipartisan group is charged with studying ways to improve and modernize the operation of Congress. Kilmer himself was a business consultant with the Washington state firm McKinsey and Company. (Rep. Derek Kilmer)
  • The Air Force’s new agile software development office is growing, and quickly. The Boston-based innovation hub, known as Kessel Run, plans to hire about 50 more civilian employees this month. In a highly-unusual feat for the federal government, it’s planning to interview candidates over the course of two days later this month and give them job offers on-the-spot. The Air Force stood up Kessel Run to speed up its software development process. So far, it’s managed to deliver about a dozen new applications within a matter of months. (Federal News Network)