VA finalizes new abortion rule for all states

The Department of Veterans Affairs will provide abortions and counseling to veterans, in cases of rape, incest, or when the health of the woman is at risk.

  • The IRS is getting pushback on its return-to-office plans, both for going too far, and not far enough. Rep. Ron Estes (R-Kan.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the IRS should do more than bring employees back to the office 50% of the time. He said his office got three times more IRS complaints from constituents last year than it did in 2019. Estes said increased telework is to blame for lower customer service. Doreen Greenwald is the national president of the National Treasury Employees Union. She said teleworking IRS employees are just as productive and more likely to keep working for the agency. “Telework works, and I believe telework is here to stay,” Greenwald said.
  • Funding for IT modernization at one agency is slated to get a boost. The Department of Housing and Urban Development could see an increase in its IT modernization fund this year. House and Senate appropriations committee lawmakers approved $383 million as a part of the minibus set of bills announced on Sunday. The lawmakers allocated more than $8 million above what the agency received in 2023. Included in the congressional bill is $11.8 million dollars for HUD's move to zero trust, which is $6 million less than HUD requested. Lawmakers also approved HUD's proposal to reorganize its CIO's office.
  • Agencies grappled with a record number of Freedom of Information Act requests last year. The Justice Department reported that agencies received more than 1.1 million FOIA requests in fiscal 2023, a 30% increase over 2022. Agencies also processed a record 1.12 million requests in fiscal 2023. FOIA offices across government have struggled in recent years with soaring records request backlogs. DoJ’s Office of Information Policy said agencies will soon release more details on their efforts to reduce backlogs, as part of their 2023 chief FOIA officer reports.
  • The Army wants to hear from soldiers and their families as it launches its annual tenant satisfaction survey to gather feedback about their housing experiences. More than 100,000 tenants in Army privatized, government-owned and government-leased housing have been asked to participate in the survey. This effort will help the service to improve housing quality and resident services. The survey is confidential and voluntary. Responses are due by April 18. Tenants who didn’t receive the survey email are encouraged to contact their local housing office for further assistance.
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said hackers are still targeting a widely used virtual private network service. In a new warning, CISA said groups are continuing to exploit multiple critical vulnerabilities in Ivanti products. The agency warned that hackers can trick Ivanti’s internal tools to evade detection. Federal agencies have already been directed to remove Ivanti devices from their networks and rebuild them before continuing to use them.
  • The FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Attorney's Office, and the Bureau of Prisons are facing cuts to a key budget line item in 2024. The House and Senate appropriations committee approved $19.1 billion for salaries and expenses for all but the Bureau of Prisons. That would be $1.4 billion less than the President requested. The Bureau of Prisons is slated to receive $8.4 billion for salaries and expenses, about $250 million less than it requested.
  • The Defense Department’s internal watchdog is looking into the Navy’s efforts to prevent and respond to suicides and suicide attempts. As directed by the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, the goal of this evaluation is to determine whether the Navy effectively addresses incidents related to suicide and suicide attempts among sailors assigned to sea duty and shore duty. The office of inspector general will also evaluate the office of the under secretary of Defense for personnel and readiness and the Defense Health Agency. Site visits will include Norfolk Naval Air Station in Virginia and Naval Base San Diego in California.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs will provide abortions and counseling to veterans, in cases of rape, incest, or when the health of the woman is at risk. The VA said its newly finalized rule applies even in states that have limited access to abortion. The VA issued an interim final rule in September 2022, after the Supreme Court overturned its ruling in Roe v. Wade.

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