Transition Roundup: Trump Makes Last-Minute Budget Request; Watchdogs Launch Probe of Capitol Riots
Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.
On Thursday night, President Trump formally sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., 73 proposed budget rescissions, as he indicated he would do upon signing the fiscal 2021 spending package and COVID-19 deal.
The recessions would affect the Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Interior, Justice, Labor, State and Treasury departments; African Development Foundation; Commission of Fine Arts; Corporation for National and Community Service; District of Columbia; Environmental Protection Agency; Inter-American Foundation; Millennium Challenge Corporation; National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities; National Gallery of Art; Peace Corps; Presidio Trust; U.S. Agency for International Development; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
“These out-the-door funding cuts are a clear attempt by President Trump to inflict as much harm as possible before he leaves the White House,” said Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., chairman of the House Budget Committee. They are “filled with damaging and irrational cuts to programs critical in the fight against COVID-19, climate change, and strengthening America’s global leadership. The president can try to get in the way, but Congressional Democrats will deliver relief to American families and move our nation forward under the Biden-Harris administration.” Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed.
President-elect Biden announced on Friday that Deanne Criswell, commissioner of the New York City Emergency Management Department, is his pick for Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator. He also named several deputy positions for the EPA, Office of Management and Budget, and CIA, as well as additional members of the White House communications staff and COVID-response team. This includes Andy Slavitt, a former top Obama administration official, who helped fix the bungled rollout of Healthcare.gov.
Biden will tap David Norquist, the current deputy Defense secretary, to temporarily be Defense secretary until retired Gen. Lloyd J. Austin is confirmed. Also, Thomas Harker, current acting Defense comptroller, will serve as acting Navy secretary and John Roth, Air Force comptroller, will be acting Air Force secretary, Politico reported on Thursday.
The confirmation hearing, scheduled for Friday, for Avril Haines, Biden’s nominee to be Director of National Intelligence, was postponed. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence did not give a reason why in its statement or say when the hearing will occur.
A rehearsal for the Inauguration, set for Sunday, was pushed to Monday due to security concerns, Politico reported on Thursday.
On Thursday, the Secret Service and its law enforcement partners outlined their joint transportation plan for Inauguration, which includes road closures and parking restrictions that start on Saturday. Secret Service director James Murray sent an agency-wide memo on Wednesday reminding everyone to “remain civil and professional at all times” and “behave in a nonpartisan manner,” CNN reported.
The Trump administration is trying to rush through a regulation that would require job reviews every five years for career scientists who are directors at the health agencies, which “could lead to renewal — or reassignment,” Politico reported on Thursday. “Current and former officials say the last-minute rule could tempt top public health officials to maintain their jobs through political jockeying, at a time of cratering public confidence in agencies’ independence.”
Outgoing First Lady Melania Trump has not made contact with incoming First Lady-elect Jill Biden or helped with onboarding her, CNN reported on Thursday.
A political appointee at the Education Department signed a memo saying that the Education Department lacks the ability to relieve student debt unilaterally, as Biden seeks to do, Politico reported. “The legal opinion is not necessarily binding on the Biden administration, which could reverse or change its interpretation of the laws that govern federal student loans,” said the report. “But the memo comes as President-elect Joe Biden is already signaling that he will not accede to growing progressive demands that he employ executive action to cancel student loan debt.”
This week, Trump appointee Katherine Lemos, chair of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board and the only member of the five-member board, brought on David LaCerte, to serve “a three-year term” as senior adviser, executive counsel, and acting managing director, who doesn't have experience in industry safety, said Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. LaCerte previously “resigned as Secretary of Veteran Affairs in Louisiana amid a sprawling investigation finding widespread problems with veterans care and management of veterans’ homes,” said PEER. Also, he “stated he would stress the role climate change plays in industrial accidents, notwithstanding his lack of expertise in either subject,” PEER said.
The Office of Management and Budget initially blocked the Election Assistance Commission’s request to develop a website about recruiting election workers during the pandemic, Business Insider reported on Thursday.
Trump wanted the Space Command to be permanently located in Alabama (as opposed to Colorado, the other contender) because “he wanted the state's congressional legislators on his side amid the ongoing impeachment,” according to KRDO NewsChannel 13.
Biden’s coronavirus advisers were “largely in the dark” about the coronavirus package he unveiled on Thursday evening, according to Politico.
Upcoming: Biden will deliver remarks at 3:45 p.m. to outline his coronavirus vaccine strategy.
Today’s GovExec Daily podcast episode discusses how Biden can make government work better to suit the public’s needs.
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