Eye Opener: Jan. 26, 2009
Happy Monday! It'll be another busy week for Barack Obama's growing government, as we expect confirmation for his treasury secretary, welcoming ceremonies for other cabinet picks and the appointment of several assistant or deputy secretary posts. The unmatched Al Kamen has the latest on several openings at State, Treasury, Commerce and Justice. The cabinet confirmation process has slowed however, a sign of GOP resolve, some say. "Mr. Obama will start his second week without Treasury, Labor, Health and Human Services or Commerce secretaries, not to mention an attorney general to head the Justice Department," reports the Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman. "By the end of next week, Senate aides say the president may have only secured two more cabinet confirmations: Timothy Geithner at Treasury and Eric Holder at Justice." Still, The Post's editorial board liked what it saw from the new president in his first week.
In other news...
• Questions About New DHS Immigration Policy: "The Homeland Security Department still is requiring high-level approval before federal immigration agents can arrest fugitives, a rule quietly imposed by the Bush administration days before the election of Barack Obama, whose aunt has been living in the United States illegally," reports the AP. "The unusual directive from the Homeland Security Department came amid concerns that such arrests might generate ''negative media or congressional interest,' according to a newly disclosed federal document obtained by The Associated Press." This could quickly become a big headache for the White House.
• Groups Oppose Lynn Nomination: Following President Obama's executive order setting new restrictions on the "revolving door," several good government groups have joined together to reject the nomination of William J. Lynn II as deputy secretary of defense. "We strongly support the President's determination to restore integrity and good governance by instituting restrictions on the Washington tradition of 'revolving door' appointees," said Danielle Brian, executive director of Project on Government Oversight (POGO). "It is for that reason that we do not want those standards undermined or compromised by the confirmation of Mr. Lynn." POGO has joined with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW), Government Accountability Project (GAP), and Public Citizen to oppose Lynn's nomination.
• Regulatory Czar Scrutinized: "Cass Sunstein, selected to be Obama's regulatory czar, has labor activists and environmentalists digging into his record," reports the LA Times. "Environmental activists say his published views on cost-benefit analysis are more aligned with what they would expect from a George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan appointee. The more a regulation stood to cost industry, the less likely those administrations were to impose it."
• Fine Print on Dennis C. Blair: The Post's Walter Pincus pores over the testimony of Obama's nominee for director of national intelligence.
• Ex-ACLU Lawyer Settles Into Government Role: USA Today profiles Tim Edgar, civil liberties officer for the director of national intelligence. The former ACLU lawyer never imagined he'd have such a role. "Many in the intelligence establishment certainly never thought that Edgar, one of their community's fiercest critics, would be a co-worker."
• Civil Servants React to Obama: Federal News Radio's Mike Causey solicits reaction to the new president's decision to freeze top government salaries. "I think President Obama's action to freeze the salary of his senior staff was the right thing to do and it should get the attention of all feds who on the average are making a lot more than the private sector," said one respondent.
• Veterans Checks Bounced: "Hundreds of veterans were unexpectedly slapped with fees and penalties last month when Citibank, one of the nation's largest banks and a government contract holder, refused to honor certain checks issued by the Veterans Affairs Department," reports Government Executive.
• EPA Memo to Workers: New administrator Lisa P. Jackson sends her first memo to the rank and file, vowing to “make respect for the EPA work force a bedrock principle of my tenure.”
• This Day in History: Today in 1998, President Bill Clinton uttered his oft-repeated quote: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." More here.
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