President Obama renewed his commitment to open government by laying out a new set of initiatives that will call on the U.S. Digital Service to make it easier for citizens to engage with the government, a Sept. 24 Open Government Partnership action plan says.
Many of President Obama's nominees were left in limbo as the Senate left Washington to hit the campaign trail as November elections near. USAID has been waiting the longest. The agency has gone without an inspector general for three years now. Michael Carroll was nominated back in July 2013 and is still awaiting a hearing.
With time running out before the fiscal year ends, the House Wednesday night overwhelmingly approved a stop-gap measure to fund the government through Dec. 11 once the new fiscal years starts Oct. 1. Under the bill (H.J.Res.124), which passed by a vote of 319-108, the government would be funding at fiscal 2014 levels and doesn't address federal employee pay raises. That paves the way for President Obama's authorization of a 1 percent pay raise for feds.
President Obama plans to raise pay for federal workers by 1 percent starting in January 2015, an Aug. 29 White House statement on the National Treasury Employees Union website says. But even with the sacrifice federal workers have made over the last few years with pay freezes, they will have to continue to endure a pay raise below the amount of private sector increase and also below the statutory formula for adjustments to the base General Schedule, Obama said in the letter to Congress.
The United States should work with Mexico and Central American nations to find regional solutions to the violence and economic stagnation that's spurring the migration of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children and others to cross the Texas border, according to a policy brief by a nonpartisan think tank.
At an American Legion convention speech in North Carolina, President Obama announced Veterans Affairs Department reforms including making it easier for veterans to transition from military healthcare to the VA health system. Obama announced a new Defense Department $79 million increase in funding for a program aimed at using brain chips to treat post traumatic stress disorder, in the Aug. 26 speech.
Government dysfunction came in as one of the biggest problems facing the country for both Democrats and Republicans in an Aug. 22 Gallup poll. About 16 percent of Democrats said a dysfunctional government was the most important problem facing America--that was the top vote getter, the poll says. About 20 percent of Republicans said the same thing, although government dysfunction ranked second for them behind immigration, which garnered 22 percent.
Talks of another possible government shutdown in October are starting as Congress has stalled on passing appropriations bills and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has fired the first shot. But this time, defunding the Affordable Care Act isn't the impediment like it was last year. It's President Obama's use of executive power.
President Obama defended his use of executive power at an Aug. 6 news conference at the U.S.-Africa summit. Reporters at the press conference brought up a campaign quote that called out former President George W. Bush for going around Congress and acting on his own.
The Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill that would give the Veterans Affairs Department secretary more authority to fire agency executives and allow veterans to seek private care if wait times get too long. The bill (H.R.3230), on its way to President Obama's desk, was approved by the Senate in a 91 to 3 vote Thursday night and would provide the VA with more than $16 billion to deal with misconduct and wait times for veterans at VA medical centers.