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*** The Senate so far is declining to fund the planned merger of the Office of Personnel Management into the General Services Administration. A spending bill advanced by the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Sept. 17 funds OPM at $339.3 million – an $43 million increase over approved 2019 spending levels – and consistent with a bill passed in the House of Representatives in June. The House bill includes an amendment blocking any layoffs at OPM arising from a funding gap at the governmentwide human resources agency.

The Senate funding bill doesn't contain any language about a federal pay raise. The House bill offers a 3.1% pay hike for civilian feds while President Donald Trump has offered a 2.6% raise.

*** The Treasury Department unveiled proposed new regulations that gives the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States more authority over certain sectors of the U.S. economy and modernizes the CFIUS process itself. CFIUS is an interagency committee designed to review the national security implications of foreign ownership of U.S. assets and in recent years has been focused on technology firms whose products have potential military applications. According to a Treasury fact sheet, the new rules give CFIUS the authority to review foreign non-controlling investments in critical infrastructure operators, suppliers and services or companies that collect "sensitive personal data" on U.S. citizens that may be "exploited in a manner that threatens national security." CFIUS reviews also now apply to investments in companies that operate in "critical technologies" – meaning that they are subject to export control restrictions on security grounds.

*** The Justice Department is looking to seize any earnings from the new book "Permanent Record" by famous former federal employee Edward Snowden, who leaked government secrets to Washington Post and Guardian reporters that resulted in the disclosure of previously unreported mass surveillance programs. The lawsuit, filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, claims that Snowden's failure to submit his manuscript for pre-publication review is a violation of the terms of his former government employment.

"Intelligence information should protect our nation, not provide personal profit. This lawsuit will ensure that Edward Snowden receives no monetary benefits from breaching the trust placed in him," G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement.

On Twitter, Snowden greeted the lawsuit as something of a marketing windfall. "The publisher should print excerpts from the government's furious objection to the publication of this book on the cover of every copy," he said. "I'm not sure I've ever seen a book that both the CIA *and* the NSA consider too dangerous to be read."

Posted on Sep 18, 2019 at 2:39 AM


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