New bill would let military service members sue Pentagon for medical malpractice

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  • A handful of members of Congress introduced a bill to allow military servicemembers to sue the Defense Department for instances of medical malpractice unrelated to their military duties. Currently, the Feres Doctrine, which originated in a 1950 Supreme Court case, disallows service members from suing DoD when malpractice by military doctors unconnected to combat results in severe injury or death. The new bill will create an exemption to the Federal Tort Claims Act to allow service members to sue the military in such cases. (Rep. Jackie Speier)
  • There is no more money for fixing up Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida unless Congress steps in. The Air Force is deferring all new hurricane recovery projects until 2020, to give it time to secure supplemental funds from Congress. It’s estimated to cost about $3.5 billion to fully rebuild the base. (Federal News Network)
  • House Democrats introduced a new mechanism to block the president from spending DoD funds on his proposed border wall. The House Appropriations subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs is set to vote in its 2020 spending bill today. It includes a provision that would bar MILCON funds from any fiscal year from being spent on walls, barriers or fences on the southern border. The White House plans to use up to $3.6 billion in MILCON money for the wall in 2019, and DoD’s proposed budget for 2020 includes several billion more for that purpose. (House Appropriations Committee)
  • Leadership on the House Ways and Means Committee are concerned about ongoing collective bargaining negotiations between the Social Security Administration and its union. Committee Chairman Richard Neal said SSA is pushing contract articles similar to the provisions of the President’s May executive orders. The federal district court enjoined many of the provisions of those EOs. Neal said SSA should return to the bargaining table, drop its original contract proposals and negotiate in good faith with the American Federation of Government Employees. (House Ways and Means Committee)
  • The Postal Service said it’s preparing a new business plan to help address its multi-billion dollar funding shortfall. USPS said it’ll have a $125 billion funding gap in the next 10 years. The House Oversight and Reform Committee said it’ll use the USPS business plan as a guide for a new postal reform bill. Postmaster General Megan Brennan said the agency will run out of cash next year if it pays all its financial mandates in 2019. The business plan is expected in early summer. (Federal News Network)
  • Congress killed off the Office of Technology Assessment in the mid-90s, but lawmakers are now looking to bring it back. The House Appropriations Committee is looking to give OTA a $6 million budget for fiscal 2020, way more than the $2.5 million supporters were looking for in a fiscal 2019 spending bill Congress failed to pass. (Federal News Network)
  • The Department of Homeland Security identified 55 critical functions, that if attacked, would severely impact the nation’s infrastructure. DHS said it’s next step will be to continue to work with its public and private sector partners to develop a risk register, to assess the likelihood and consequences if the National Critical Function goes down as well as how ready the government and industry are to reduce risk. Through this effort, DHS and critical infrastructure providers will develop a risk analysis, a dependency analysis and consequence modeling. (Department of Homeland Security)
  • DHS wants agencies to move even faster to repair system vulnerabilities. DHS is cutting the time agencies have to fix critical cyber vulnerabilities by half and requiring agencies to address high vulnerabilities in 30 days. The agency updated a 2015 binding operational directive earlier this week with new deadlines for vulnerabilities identified through DHS’ cyber hygiene scanning. The four-year-old policy required agencies to mitigate critical cyber problems in 30 days. This new one now gives agencies 15 days. If an agency is unable to meet these new timeframes, they have to send DHS a remediation plan with details about short and long-term steps they are taking to deal with the cyber problems. (Federal News Network)
  • While the Census Bureau continues prepping for the 2020 population count, the Government Accountability Office wants it to step up its cybersecurity efforts. GAO said the bureau has over 500 corrective actions from security assessments which still need to be addressed, about half of which are considered high risk or very high risk. GAO also recommended the Bureau develop a formal process for tracking and implementing cybersecurity recommendations from DHS. (Government Accountability Office)

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