Eye Opener: Feb. 5, 2009
Happy Thursday! Today is National Weatherman's Day, which honors "weathermen, and woman who work hard to accurately predict the often fickle weather." In celebration of the big day, The Eye is headed to the National Weather Service's Baltimore/Washington regional forecasting office in Sterling, Va. today for the first in what we hope becomes a popular, recurring series of videos profiling Federal workers in their element. The video report will appear soon here in the blog. Don't forget to follow The Eye on Twitter and send your news tips, news hunches, comments, questions and events listings to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As for the news, The Post's Carrie Johnson and Krissah Thompson team up for a fantastic review of the stakes faced by newly minted Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.
"Holder will oversee civil rights enforcement, crime prevention and racial justice -- issues with a broad impact and audience -- among many competing priorities in an agency that also plays a central role in fighting terrorism and policing corporate abuse. Fixing decades of perceived injustices is a difficult task at any time but will be especially challenging for Holder now, when government budgets have tightened and scarce money is allocated to national security and defense efforts."
Another Obama nominee seems to have cleared her path to nomination. Hilda Solis, the president's Labor Department pick, gets a Senate HELP Committee vote today.
"Senate GOP aides said that Solis's written answers seem to have satisfied Republican lawmakers and that they expect her to be confirmed. Still, the delay of Solis's confirmation is seen by some as an early skirmish in what is expected to be a contentious relationship between Obama's Labor Department and congressional Republicans."
In other news...
• Panetta's Purse: The president's pick to lead the CIA, Leon E. Panetta, earned more than $1 million last year in consulting and speaking fees and from service on the boards of nearly a dozen institutions and corporations. "Administration officials said that Panetta's financial dealings had been carefully vetted and that no problems or surprises were expected. His consulting arrangements and speeches for well-connected companies such as the Carlyle Group and Merrill Lynch were described as consistent with those of other former high-ranking government officials who pursue careers in the private sector."
• Gregg Connected to Abramoff?: Commerce nominee Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) says one of his former top staffers is under investigation in the Jack Abramoff gifts-for-favors scandal. A White House spokesman said the New Hampshire Republican is not a target of the probe. "An unnamed reference to Kevin H. Koonce, 37, who served as Gregg's legislative director and counsel for two years until 2004, appears in a plea deal filed in court last week, according to people familiar with the circumstances of the events described in the documents."
• Opposition to Gregg: Minority political groups including the National Association of Latino Elected Officials and the Congressional Black Caucus have raised concerns about Obama's commerce pick, noting he once supported eliminating the U.S. Census Bureau, which would have led to "severe under counting in minority neighborhoods and, hence, fewer black/Latino reps."
• Obama Defends Geithner: Two of The Post's White House reporters, Michael D. Shear and (recently engaged) Anne E. Kornblut address the different ways President Obama has handled the tax issues of the treasury secretary and his former nominees Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer.
• DTV Transition Delayed: The House passed a bill similar to one passed by the Senate. Expect Obama's signature soon. And this means four more months of those annoying TV commercials fronted by news anchors encouraging you to upgrade your set. Oh joy.
IRS to Review Outsourced Tax Collection: Much to the pleasure of some members of Congress, IRS employees and their unions.
• Immigration Priorities Questioned: A new report says that in recent years, a high-profile federal program shifted its focus away from catching the most dangerous illegal immigrants who were evading deportation orders. The findings come as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has ordered a review of which immigrants are targeted for arrest and as a Democratic Congress has shifted ICE money toward pursuing criminals.
• DOJ Didn't Anticipate Bogus E-mail Response: Officials did not anticipate that a phony e-mail sent to employees of the Bureau of Prisons to test their vulnerability to Internet scams would circulate to other agencies and cause alarm. "The department sent e-mails to Bureau of Prisons employees on Jan. 25 informing them that if they had lost more than 30 percent of the value of their Thrift Savings Plan accounts since Oct. 1, 2008, they could register online for a bailout that was available until Jan. 31, 2009."
• VA Chief Pledges Top-Down Review: In his first appearance before Congress since becoming secretary, Eric Shinseki also reiterated his promise to submit a "credible and adequate 2010 budget request" in the coming weeks that will be cost-effective while fully sensitive to veterans in need.
• Lawmakers Whack SEC: Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.) once again found his way onto TV and radio newscasts nationwide, as he delivered the most sustained and withering attacks on the SEC during yesterday's House Financial Services Committee hearing on the Madoff scandal. "The economy is in crisis," Ackerman said. "We thought the enemy was Mr. Madoff. I think it's you," he told SEC acting general counsel Andrew N. Vollmer.
• Today's Big Event: The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee holds a hearing at 10 a.m. ET: "Examination of Federal Food Safety Oversight in the Wake of Peanut Products Recall." A who's who of food safety folks will opine.
Posted by: morcab | February 5, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse
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