Eye Opener: Feb. 12, 2009
Happy Thursday! Hilda Solis is one step closer to serving as labor secretary, following a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee vote yesterday afternoon.
"A scheduled committee vote was abruptly called off last week after news surfaced that her husband, Sam Sayyad, paid about $6,400 to settle outstanding tax liens against his business," reports The Post's Michael A. Fletcher. "The committee meeting took just two minutes, as members approved Solis's nomination by a voice vote."
Meanwhile, changes continue at the Justice Department, where DOJ and "FBI officials committed anew to weeding out fraud in the marketplace, telling lawmakers that they are looking into more than 530 cases of alleged corporate malfeasance. Among them are 38 investigations of name-brand businesses and financial institutions involved in the financial crisis, including American International Group, Countrywide Financial, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac." Officials appeared before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing where "Senators from both parties are advocating that more federal resources be devoted to investigating business fraud, pointing out that such prosecutions plunged after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when more than 2,000 FBI agents were diverted to protect national security."
In other news...
• Key Witnesses to Be Interviewed in Prosecutor Firings: "Nora R. Dannehy, a public corruption prosecutor who helped convict Connecticut's GOP governor four years ago, was named last year to go to Capitol Hill and the Bush White House, where government officials declined to provide voluntary testimony to the Justice Department inspector general probing the firings," reports The Post's Carrie Johnson. "At the time, Inspector General Glenn A. Fine urged prosecutors to use their subpoena power to compel documents and testimony about the dismissal of New Mexico U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias, whose pace on criminal investigations involving Democrats in the state drew complaints from [Former Sen. Pete] Domenici and then-Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M.)."
• Builders Groups Decry Obama's Order on Projects: "Two of the biggest construction industry trade groups are denouncing a move by President Obama that they say could limit the number of workers hired on new federal jobs to build roads, bridges and buildings, at a time when construction employment is plummeting," reports The Post's Dana Hedgpeth. "Obama issued an executive order Friday requiring federal agencies to consider putting in place agreements that set wages, work rules and other benefits when awarding major construction contracts. Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman, said the order does not require the use of union labor but encourages following rules that are set up before a project starts."
• Revolving Door: The Kamen/Rucker tagteam have news of nominations at FAA and Drug Czar, the Energy Department and Defense Department.
• Panel Scolds FAA for Data Breach: "FAA is working on a response to a hacker’s breach of 48 FAA files and will provide more information to Congress in a week or two, said Nancy LoBue, action assistant administrator for aviation policy, planning and environment," reports Rebecca Neal of Federal Times. “'As one of the 45,000, I am very concerned,' she told the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on aviation. 'We’re looking short term and long term.'"
• U.S. Weapons Going to Taliban?: "Tens of thousands of assault rifles and other firearms in Afghanistan are at risk of being stolen because U.S. officials have lost track of them, according to a congressionally ordered audit that warns that some weapons may already be in Taliban hands," report The Post's Joby Warrick and R. Jeffrey Smith. "The audit by the Government Accountability Office found that inventory controls were lacking for more than a third of the 242,000 light weapons donated to Afghan forces by the United States -- a stockpile that includes thousands of AK-47 assault rifles as well as mortars, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers."
• HUD is Obama's Home Base: ... to address the housing crisis, reports Government Executive's Kellie Lunney. "First and foremost, though, the department's biggest challenge is ensuring that the Federal Housing Administration is able to stanch the flow of bad mortgage loans. 'FHA is the only game in town,' said Joe Ventrone, vice president of regulatory and industry relations at the National Association of Realtors."
• Valentine's Day Haters Rejoice: Elizabeth Newell reports in the FedBlog that "Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists are working round overtime to make sure flowers being imported for Valentine’s Day bouquets are free from insects and disease that could harm the agriculture and floral industries in the U.S."
• Report Faults Homeland Security’s Efforts on Immigration: The nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute "said Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration mission has been undermined by wasteful spending along the southern border, law enforcement efforts that focused on snaring illegal workers rather than high-risk criminals, and an often hostile bureaucracy that discourages people eligible for legal entry from playing by the rules," reports Ginger Thompson of the New York Times.
• Today's Big Event: Two Obama nominees get one step closer to their jobs today when the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee holds hearings on the nominations of Jane Lubchenco to be director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and John Holdren to be director of the office of science and technology policy at the White House. Both are scheduled to appear. More here.
| February 12, 2009; 7:56 AM ET
Categories: Eye Opener
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