House Dems increase pressure on President Trump to rescind executive orders

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  • More than 130 House lawmakers have detailed their concerns about the president’s recent executive orders on official time and collective bargaining. The members wrote to President Donald Trump in a new letter to ask that he rescind the orders. The lawmakers said the executive orders violate existing law and will make it more difficult for agencies to recruit and retain a talented workforce. This most recent letter represents more than half of the Democratic caucus and a fourth of the House of Representatives. (AFGE)
  • Trump has signed a new executive order that will change the current appointment process for administrative law judges. Agency heads can now directly appoint and hire new administration law judges. They no longer have to use the current examination process or register that the Office of Personnel Management administers. The Trump administration said a recent Supreme Court ruling inspired the change. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Social Security Administration has given the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) union until the end of the month to vacate agency property and return all government-issued computers and other equipment. Social Security said it is complying with the president’s executive orders on collective bargaining and official time.  It said it negotiated 21 articles of the agency’s existing contract. But AFGE said Social Security is unilaterally enforcing the president’s orders. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Air Force said it is considering turning some of its older planes into drones. Maj. Gen. William Cooley, commander of the Air Force Research Lab, said there is great potential in building the Air Force’s capacity by resurrecting discarded planes as unmanned aircraft. The Air Force said it needs more capacity to compete with near-peer competitors like China and Russia. (Federal News Radio)
  • A defense contractor from Oklahoma has been found guilty of theft and transmission of trade secrets. Jared Dylan Sparks, an electrical engineer, was convicted for his involvement in uploading thousands of documents from the Office of Naval Research to his personal Dropbox account. The files had designs and photographs of unmanned underwater vehicles. The FBI said the theft of intellectual property costs US businesses billions in revenue annually. (Department of Justice)
  • The former commander of the USS Fitzgerald has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the vessel’s deadly collision with a container ship last year.  A formal court martial for Comm. Bryce Benson is set for January.  Benson faces charges of negligence and hazarding a vessel, instead of the negligent homicide counts the Navy initially pursued earlier this year. Benson was asleep in his stateroom last June when his ship collided with another vessel off the coast of Japan, resulting in the deaths of sailors. (USNI)
  • DOJ may have jumped the gun in June when it claimed a Maryland woman pled guilty for using data stolen from the 2015 breach of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to obtain fraudulent loans. In a letter to Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said DOJ reached a “premature conclusion” that the data only came from the OPM breach. Boyd said in June that Kariva Cross of Bowie, pleaded guilty to for participating in a scheme to obtain fraudulent personal and vehicle loans using data stolen during the OPM breach. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has voted to move forward on Robert Wilkie’s nomination to head the Veterans Affairs Department. Wilkie’s nomination now goes to the full Senate for a vote. Senate VA Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) urged his colleagues to support Wilkie’s nomination. VA has been without a permanent secretary for over three months. (Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs)
  • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has questioned why agencies are not using more modern encryption technology to secure their networks and data. He also wants the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to find out why. Wyden has written to NIST asking its researchers to evaluate technologies to secure virtual private networks or VPNs. Wyden said agencies are using older, less secure technologies like IPSec or OpenVPN. He asked NIST to review new open source VPN technology called Wireguard as well as other potential replacements. (Sen. Ron Wyden)
  • The Transportation Security Administration has advised air travelers on the question of carrying aboard the cremated remains of a loved one. TSA‘s social media campaign sent its more than 200,000 followers a link to advice on flying with cremains. The agency said it was responding to a news report of a passenger who put cremains in a checked bag, which subsequently spilled. TSA advised travelers to carry it on instead, but asked for understanding that even Grandpa’s ashes must pass X-Ray screening. (TSA)