Shutdown ends, but another could be right around the corner

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  • The partial government shutdown may be over but another one could be right around the corner. President Trump told the Wall Street Journal  he doesn’t think a newly created board made up of 17 members of congress will be able to reach a deal over the next three weeks. Trump said another government shutdown is certainly an option. The board tasked with hashing out an immigration deal is set to meet this week and is led House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.). (Wall Street Journal)
  • Agencies affected by the 35 day partial government shutdown are set to reopen. But when their employees will receive their pay differs by agency. USDA said its employees should receive two paychecks by Jan. 31. The Coast Guard said it will take 3 to 5 business days to process pay for its military members. (Federal News Network)
  • The National Treasury Employees Union is withdrawing its legal challenge of the Trump administration’s decision to recall furloughed employees back to work during the government shutdown. A federal district judge was supposed to hear oral arguments later this week. But NTEU’s other lawsuit before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims is still open. NTEU, and the American Federation of Government Employees issued separate challenges. They said the Trump administration violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, by forcing excepted employees to work without pay during the shutdown. AFGE on Friday urged excepted employees to join its class-action lawsuit. (Federal News Network)
  • There’s still some hope for a pay raise for civilian employees in 2019. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) introduced legislation that would give civilian federal employees a 2.6 percent pay raise for the rest of the year. The raise would be applied to pay that started Jan. 1, meaning employees would get back pay and a raise if the bill passes Congress. The House Rules Committee is scheduled to consider the bill tomorrow. A 2.6 percent boost is what the military got in 2019. (Federal News Network)
  • The Air Force is offering higher reenlistment bonuses for shorter commitments. Most pilots who extend their contracts from three to nine years will get annual bonuses of $35,000. Previously, bonuses that high were only reserved for commitments of 10 to 12 years. The shorter commitment bonuses increased $5,000 compared to 2018. The Air Force is offering higher bonuses due to a pilot shortage in the service. (Air Force)
  • Military families may get a tax break this year. Spouses of service members can now claim the same residency of their husband or wife, even if they don’t live in that state. That gives military families the opportunity to choose which state to pay taxes in, possibly leading to lower tax rates. The policy comes from the Veterans Benefits and Transition Act of 2018. Tax experts said it could save families hundreds or thousands of dollars. (Federal News Network)
  • The Army said it’s implementing a new policy on intellectual property. The directive, signed last month by Army Secretary Mark Esper, told Army acquisition officials to build an intellectual property strategy at the beginning of each program’s lifecycle. The goal, officials said, is to make sure the Army acquires the IP it needs to manage its programs from industry — but no more than it actually needs. On the other hand, it called for the Army to be fairly compensated when vendors use the government’s intellectual property through licenses. (Army)
  • Two high-ranking Foreign Affairs Committee lawmakers hope to re-establish a cyber diplomat role in the State Department. Congressmen Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Mike McCaul (R-Texas) introduced the Cyber Diplomacy Act to establish a high-level ambassador for cyberspace to lead State’s cyber diplomacy efforts. State merged the cyber diplomat office with another one in 2018. The bill will also direct the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations to advance international cyberspace policy. (House Foreign Affairs Committee Minority)
  • The Labor Department earned praise for its second try at IT modernization. Labor released version 2 of its solicitation to drive its IT modernization priorities. Labor was forced to rework its Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions or EIS request for proposals after vendors protested that version 1 limited competition. Now, industry experts praise Labor for removing those provisions that made the initial RFP unfair, and for signaling it’s open to awarding to multiple vendors. Along with Labor, GSA, Energy and Commerce have issused RFPs under the $50 billion EIS contract.
  • More than two-thirds of people surveyed by the Census Bureau say they’re “extremely likely” or “very likely” to respond to the upcoming decennial count. The 2020 Census Barriers, Attitudes and Motivators Stud, found data privacy, fear of repercussions, and distrust in government were common census concerns, in 50,000 households. However, only 33 percent of respondents reported being “extremely” or “very familiar” with the decennial count. (Census Bureau)
  • One of the Postal Service’s largest stamp price increases went into effect Sunday. The cost of a first-class forever stamp rose from 50 cents to 55 cents. Rate hikes also applied to the agency’s other flat-rate mail and package services. USPS has posted net losses for the past 12 fiscal years, and reported nearly a $4 billion net loss for fiscal 2018. (Associated Press)

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