When the acting head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development asked an agency official to "find money" to pay for a costly makeover of incoming Secretary Ben Carson's office, she recoiled, telling him $5,000 was the statutory max. But that wasn't the end of the conversation, according to a complaint alleging retaliation filed with a federal whistleblower agency. Helen Foster, HUD's former chief administrative officer, wrote in the complaint that she was told the administration "has always found money for this in the past" and that "$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair." HUD would later spend $31,561 on a dining set, according to an agency document. In response to a request for comment Tuesday, HUD said only blinds were purchased for Carson's office and were within the $5,000 limit. The agency said the dining set was considered "a building expense" rather than a decoration and was not ordered by Carson. The set is in a room adjoining the secretary's office.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's strategy to stop the long string of Republican losses in special elections is simply to stop calling special elections. But Democrats are fighting back. According to Reuters, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) is suing to force Walker to hold special elections in state legislative districts vacated by Republicans appointed to the governor's administration. Walker previously refused to call special elections for Assembly District 42 and Senate District 1, claiming that the state House term was almost over and it could wait until the midterms. read more
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Google+ Major EPA reorganization will end science research program TheHill.com Autoplay: On | Off A federal environmental program that distributes grants to test the effects of chemical exposure on adults and children is being shuttered amidst a major organization consolidation at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) will no longer exist following plans to combine three EPA offices, the agency confirmed to The Hill on Monday. The program provides millions of dollars in grants each year. Perhaps best known for its handling of fellowships that study the effects of chemicals on children's health, the NCER will be dissolved and science staff serving there will be reassigned elsewhere within the department, the EPA said.
A top U.S. intelligence official told lawmakers Tuesday he has not received specific direction from the Trump administration to disrupt Russian cyberattacks targeting U.S. elections at their source. "I haven't been granted any additional authorities," NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers, who also serves as commander of U.S. Cyber Command, told lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee. While Rogers said he has not asked for additional authorities to stop Russian cyberattacks at the source, he noted that it would ultimately be up to President Trump to give him that permission. "I need a policy decision that indicates there is specific direction to do that," Rogers said Tuesday. "The president ultimately would make this decision in accordance with a recommendation from the secretary of defense."
One inadvertently denies restaurants, retailers and others generous new write-offs for things like remodeling. Another would allow wealthy money managers to sidestep a crackdown on lucrative tax breaks that allows them to pay lower taxes on some of their income than ordinary wage earners. A third creates two different start dates for new rules that make it harder for businesses to shave their tax bills. There are dozens of other snafus, hitting everything from real estate investments to multinational corporations to farmers.