Browsing: Senate

Committee passes bill to limit Oil paintings for government officials to $20,000 each

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The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted May 21 to limit the federal dollars spent on oil paintings of government officials – and restrict who gets to have themselves painted. The aptly named Responsible Use of Taxpayer Dollars for Portraits Act of 2013, co-sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., would permanently cap the amount of each painting to $20,000 and would limit those eligible to those in line for presidential succession. While the government is currently prohibited from spending money on oil paintings of government officials the ban lasts only through this fiscal year,…

Senate confirms SSA deputy commissioner

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The Social Security Administration has a new deputy commissioner. Carolyn Colvin was confirmed before the Senate Wednesday, after being nominated by President Barack Obama in Oct. 2009, according to an agency news release. Colvin, a former chief executive officer at AMERIGROUP, DC, has held various positions within SSA including deputy commissioner for policy and external affairs and deputy commissioner for programs and policy. “Carolyn brings a wealth of expertise that will be extremely valuable as we face the dual challenges of ever increasing workloads and reducing current backlogs in an environment of fiscal austerity,” SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue said in the release. “I look…

Senate wants plan on NSPS conversions

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The Senate Armed Services Committee wants to know in detail how the Pentagon plans to convert about 226,000 employees from the National Security Personnel System back to the General Schedule or other pay system. The request for an action plan on conversions is part of the Senate 2011 Defense Authorization Act, which the committee finished marking up today. The bill also: Clarifies that the repeal of NSPS has no effect on the direct hiring authority of defense laboratories, and increases the number of positions for which that authority can be used, Temporarily authorizes overtime pay for Navy civilian employees working…

EEOC nominees on secret hold

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A senator has placed a secret hold on the confirmation of a gay woman and other nominees to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, apparently in violation of a 2007 law that cracked down on such anonymous holds, Keen News Service reports. Many conservative groups have oppposed the nomination of Georgetown University law professor Chai Feldblum as an EEOC commissioner because she is gay. Nevertheless, Feldblum’s nomination was reported out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in December along with three other EEOC nominations, clearing the way for a vote by the full Senate. Since then, however, an unnamed senator has…

WaPo: Why Obama can't fire anyone

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The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein had an interesting column yesterday about Senate gridlock and how it could be forcing President Obama and agency heads to stick with people they’d like to fire. Money quote: The problem gets worse as it goes deeper. It’s not just that [Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner can’t be fired. It’s that he, in turn, can’t fire anybody. Treasury is understaffed, and there’s little reason to believe that the Senate will consider its nominees anytime soon. If Geithner is displeased with the performance of an appointed subordinate, he can’t ponder whether America would be better off with…

Senate approves dozens of nominees

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The Senate approved dozens of President Barack Obama’s nominees this morning before departing for the holidays. The Senate will return on Jan. 21. Approved nominations include: Adele Logan Alexander as a member of the National Council on the Humanities; Paul T. Anastas as an assistant Environmental Protection Agency administrator; Anne Slaughter Andrew as ambassador to Costa Rica; Alberto Fernandez as ambassador to Equatorial Guinea; Michael Khouri as a Federal Maritime Commissioner; Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis as ambassador to Hungary; David Daniel Nelson as ambassador to Uruguay; John Norris as a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Robert Perciasepe as deputy…

UPDATE: Senate approves Sunstein nomination

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The Senate voted 57-40 Thursday to approve the nomination of Cass Sunstein to be administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, ending a months-long debate over Sunstein’s writings as a professor and his ideological views. At least two senators had placed holds on Sunstein’s nomination, due to concerns about his opinions on gun control and animal rights. Sunstein, a Harvard University professor, met with the senators, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and John Cornyn of Texas, and assured them he respected the Second Amendment and would not limit hunting or impose stricter gun control. The holds were then lifted.…

Senate approves VA advance appropriations

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Before departing for its August recess, the Senate approved advance appropriations for the Veterans Affairs’ health programs Thursday, clearing the way for advanced funding of VA hospitals. Advocates said advance appropriations would ensure consistent, quality health care for veterans in case in case Congress does not pass the annual VA appropriation bill by the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30. VA is currently funded yearly, which has has resulted in late funding for VA programs in 19 of the past 22 years. The House-passed 2010 spending bill for VA and military construction includes fiscal 2011 health care funding, and…

Senator: Feds welcome in Orlando, Las Vegas

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Sen. Bill Nelson isn’t happy that some federal agencies are shying away from booking conventions and training sessions in resort cities such as Orlando and Las Vegas. After media reports that some federal agencies had formal or informal policies to avoid scheduling conferences in resort areas because of image concerns, Nelson, D-Fla., took to the Senate floor Monday to defend his state’s reputation. When you compare the cost of a hotel room in Orlando during the season with the cost of a hotel room, let’s say, in Washington, D.C., during the season, you will find that the Orlando hotels on…

Republicans: If you want to "CLEAN UP" government, open a phonebook

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In April, several senate Democrats, led by Maryland’s Barbara Mikulski, introduced a bill to convert some contracted work to federal performance and otherwise prevent the government from competing federal jobs with the private sector. Mikulski’s “CLEAN UP Act” – short for “Correction of Longstanding Errors in Agencies Unsustainable Procurements Act” – drew applause from unions and criticism from industry groups. But now Senate Republicans are getting in on the act with their own bill designed to do the opposite. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., introduced the “Freedom From Government Competition Act” yesterday. The bill mandates federal agencies rely on the private sector for…

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