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*** The U.S. Senate is taking the rest of August off, with the next legislative business set for Sept. 8, 2020. The recess means that members would have to be recalled to vote on any deal that emerges between the White House and congressional Democrats on COVID-19 related relief and recovery supplemental spending. Talks on such a bill are apparently at a standstill.

The lack of a deal could mean furloughs for more than 13,000 employees at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, which had pushed back planned furloughs to Aug. 30 in the hopes of a fee and funding deal for USCIS being included in the next COVID relief package. The furloughs mean that USCIS will be without 70% of its workforce, meaning that immigration processing will dramatically slow down.

"We are disappointed that the Senate has decided to break for recess without addressing an impending crisis that will devastate 13,400 hard-working USCIS employees, harm American families, businesses, and military service members, and that will effectively shut down our nation’s legal immigration system," American Federation of Government Employees National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council 119 said in an emailed statement. "While the Senators pat themselves on the back, thousands of their constituents don’t know if they’re going to have a paycheck in two weeks."

*** The U.S. government has seized websites, Facebook pages and over 300 cryptocurrency wallets containing more than $2 million tied to three different schemes to raise and launder money through cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether to fund terrorist organizations. U.S. officials said it was the largest single seizure of cryptocurrency in a terrorism investigation.

In a sworn affidavit, IRS Special Agent Jonathan Gebhart said IRS was able to de-anonymize the transactions “through several different tools” and a Justice Department press release states that two companies who specialize in tracking cryptocurrency transactions -- Chainalysis and Excygent -- provided assistance. The companies "analyze the blockchain and attempt to identify the individuals or groups involved in the virtual currency transactions" and create large databases that group transactions into ‘clusters’ through analysis of data underlying the virtual currency transactions," Gebhart states.

*** Federal agencies awarded almost $133 billion to small business contractors in fiscal 2019, according to the Small Business Administration’s recently-released scorecard. The agency also reported that 5.19% of that total went to woman-owned small businesses as prime contractors. It was only the second time in the history of the scorecard that the 5% woman-owned small business prime contracting goal had been met, according to the agency. The federal government made progress in other set-aside prime contractor categories. It doubled 2019’s 5% goal for small disadvantaged business prime contractors to 10.29 %. Service Disabled Veteran Owned small business primes topped the 3% goal for 2019 at 4.39%.

Posted on Aug 14, 2020 at 2:21 AM


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