Issues & Industries

Climate Change a ‘Very Serious’ Threat, DHS Secretary Says

Major storms caused by climate change are posing a “very serious” threat, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told a Senate panel as Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida.

“The intensity, the changes in weather patterns, the changes in which the hazards manifest all require us to update everything we do,” Nielsen said Wednesday in an appearance before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

China’s Big Hack Heightens Pentagon’s Cyber Supply Chain Worries

The latest revelations about Chinese infiltration into U.S. computer systems are fueling fears about the security of the military’s systems and have the potential to alter the way the Pentagon acquires information technology. Bloomberg Businessweek reported Oct. 4 that Chinese spies exploited vulnerabilities in the U.S. technology supply chain to infiltrate the computer networks of almost 30 U.S. companies.

Firm Tied to Russian Oligarch Protests Air Force Scrapping Award

Chicago-based A. Finkl & Sons Co. is challenging the Air Force’s decision to scrap a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars to make bunker-busting bombs, according to a filing with the Government Accountability Office.

The Air Force yanked the lucrative contract from Finkl in August after complaints from Pennsylvania lawmakers that Finkl is a foreign-owned company with ties to a U.S-sanctioned Russian oligarch.

Veterans’ Health Program Price Tag Still Unknown, Say Lawmakers

Lawmakers say the Trump administration has kept them in the dark about the cost of a new law on veterans’ health care, a looming long-term expenditure that could complicate future budget negotiations.

The VA MISSION Act (Public Law 115-182) aims to give veterans more flexibility to seek subsidized health care at private facilities outside the Department of Veterans Affairs

IRS, Other Financial Agencies May Need Stopgap as Talks Stall

Financial agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission may have to rely on stopgap funding, along with the departments of the Interior, Transportation and Agriculture, if lawmakers can’t break an impasse on the spending package before the new fiscal year begins Monday.

Young Farmers, Healthy Food Programs to Suffer in Farm Bill Delay

An agriculture program assisting farmers just starting out would lapse if a final farm bill compromise isn’t reached before the current law expires at the end of the month.

There will probably be no agreement on the authorization bill before the Sept. 30 deadline of current law, according to two agriculture lobbyists familiar with the matter.

GOP Split Over Border-Wall Fight in Lame Duck or Next Congress

Republican lawmakers are split over what could be a lose-lose scenario: whether to set a deadline for completing funding of the government shortly before Christmas, or in January, when Democrats may have taken control of the House.

Sen. Blunt Unsure of Legality of Migrant Children Detention Plan

A key Senate Republican expressed uncertainty about the legality of a proposal from the Homeland Security and Health and Human Services departments that would lengthen the time undocumented immigrant children could be detained.

The joint proposal from the departments in a notice published Thursday would replace provisions in the 1997 Flores settlement, a legal agreement that lays out parameters for the treatment of foreign minors detained after crossing the U.S. border illegally.

Wall Funding Waits While Leaders Rush Bipartisan Spending Bills

The race to complete appropriations bills before the fiscal year ends this month is more likely to benefit Democrats than conservative Republicans, as congressional leaders plan to pass a major domestic spending bill quickly and delay efforts to secure more money for a border wall.

Domestic Violence Program May Lapse Before #MeToo Midterms

Congress might let the Justice Department’s domestic violence program lapse in its rush to get through its autumn must-do list and back home for campaigning. The Violence Against Women Act provides grants to programs that try to prevent domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.