Senate subcommittee to probe Hatch Act enforcement

As probes continue into whether electoral briefings by White House officials at federal agencies resulted in illegal use of government resources for partisan politics, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Government Management Subcommittee Thursday will examine whether the scope of the act that governs political activity by federal employees is sufficient.

A subcommittee staffer said the hearing will likely focus less on the White House briefings than on how that law -- the Hatch Act -- is enforced.

The staffer said that as the 2008 election approaches, the hearing will remind federal officials to stay out of elections while on the job.

Special Counsel Scott Bloch, whose office is reviewing material gathered from agencies in its investigation of political briefings, is unlikely to testify, an aide said.

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Federal Financial Management Subcommittee Tuesday is scheduled to review the Pentagon's efforts to improve accounting and business operations.

The hearing will focus on Defense Secretary Robert Gates' Sept. 18 order that Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England's portfolio include acting as Chief Management Officer. Congressional critics and Government Accountability Office Comptroller General David Walker, who is scheduled to testify, have pushed for the Pentagon to create a full-time CMO.

In the House, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee Wednesday will likely take issue with the Environmental Protection Agency's recent move to approve new coal-fired power plants without regulating carbon dioxide emissions.

The committee has charged that EPA is ignoring the Supreme Court's April ruling that the agency is responsible for regulating greenhouse gases. EPA claims it cannot yet regulate plants because it has not written general rules for limiting emissions.

The committee has postponed a hearing on allegations that State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard obstructed investigations that threatened to embarrass the Bush administration. The committee is seeking more information from the IG's office.

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