The Paper Trail: April 5, 2024

OPM KOs Schedule F; Army Psyops Are Understaffed and Ineffective; Big Food and Dietitians Push “Anti-Diet” Fad; and More. 

The Paper Trail logo in front of government buildings in Washington, DC

Delivered Tuesdays and Fridays, The Paper Trail is a curated collection of the government news you need to know. Sign up to get this newsletter delivered to your inbox.

The Paper Trail


Better Prevention of Waste and Fraud in Emergency Spending: Lessons Learned from Pandemic Programs: POGO’s virtual training on how to work effectively with the media on oversight investigations will be TODAY at noon EDT. This event is only open to staff in Congress, GAO, and CRS. Register HERE.

Top stories for April 5, 2024

End of internet subsidies for low-income households threatens telehealth access: More than 23 million low-income households are enrolled in the federal Affordable Connectivity Program, which will soon run out of money. (Sarah Jane Tribble, KFF Health News)

To comply with court, federal agency lets White people claim social disadvantage: Last month, the Minority Business Development Agency directed staffers at its 40 business centers around the country to forgo racial considerations when vetting applicants. Instead, candidates must sign a form, under the penalty of perjury, attesting their disadvantage to certify that they’re “minority business enterprises.” No supporting documentation is required. (Julian Mark, Washington Post)

OPM issues its final rule for Schedule F protections: OPM issued the final version of its regulation meant to safeguard the civil service from the return of Schedule F, a Trump-era policy that sought to convert most federal employees to at-will workers. (Carten Cordell, Government Executive)

Federal weather system experiences outage amid severe weather nationwide: Multiple National Weather Service forecast offices experienced an overnight network outage early Tuesday that lasted over five hours and impacted some warning services. The agency is seeking a more than $22 million budget increase for fiscal 2025 for weather forecasting and information systems. (Adam Mazmanian, Government Executive)

State Department officials told House investigators they created Afghanistan withdrawal plans from scratch: During a closed-door congressional hearing, three top State Department officials testified they were rushed to Afghanistan in the final days of the U.S. presence there with virtually no time to prepare and no established emergency evacuation plan in place. (Kylie Atwood and Jennifer Hansler, CNN)

Special Counsel’s office cites whistleblower protections in immigration judge gag order: The Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review loosened its policy on immigration judges speaking publicly, clarifying that the policy doesn’t restrict employees’ rights to make protected disclosures or engage in protected activity. (Carten Cordell, Government Executive)

Israel-Hamas War

U.S. approved more bombs to Israel on day of World Central Kitchen strikes: The Biden administration approved the transfer of thousands more bombs to Israel on the same day Israeli airstrikes in Gaza killed seven aid workers for the charity group World Central Kitchen. A State Department spokesperson said the approval occurred prior to the incident. (John Hudson, Washington Post)

🔎 See Also: Analysis: Military pier project in Gaza could be “on ice” (Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, Responsible Statecraft)

Classified Documents

Analysis: Aileen Cannon denied Trump’s dismissal motion, but danger lurks: Judge Cannon’s denial of Donald Trump’s motion to dismiss the classified documents case based on the Presidential Records Act was ostensibly a win for special counsel Jack Smith, but it could present problems during the jury instruction phase of the trial — for which for Cannon still hasn’t set a firm date. (Jordan Rubin, NBC News)


Several Trump supporters involved in Jan. 6 are running for office this year: Seven candidates running for elected office this year were at the Capitol on Jan. 6 or attended the “Stop the Steal” rally, including two who received prison terms. (Diana Paulsen, NBC News)

🔎 See Also: Meet some of the violent Jan. 6 rioters Donald Trump keeps calling “hostages” (Ryan J. Reilly, NBC News)

Reps. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar subpoenaed in Arizona probe of fake electors: It’s not clear if Arizona’s attorney general is considering bringing criminal charges against the lawmakers or has insisted on enforcing the subpoenas. (Betsy Woodruff Swan and Kyle Cheney, Politico)

Jeffrey Clark’s bid to aid election scheme violated attorney rules, DC Bar panel finds: The panel found that Jeffrey Clark, a former high-ranking Justice Department official, violated his duties as an attorney in his attempt to subvert the 2020 election. Investigators who brought the charges say they intend to push for Clark’s disbarment. (Kyle Cheney, Politico)

Dobbs Aftermath

Hospital at center of Alabama embryo ruling Is ending I.V.F. services: The hospital’s decision underscores concerns that a new Alabama law doesn’t go far enough to adequately protect access to I.V.F. treatments and increases pressure on Congress to codify federal protections for fertility treatments. (Emily Cochrane, New York Times)

Defense and Veterans Affairs

New report reveals dirty secret of Army psychological operations: A Pentagon inspector general report found the Army has failed to adequately staff its psyops units at a time when the U.S. struggles with fighting foreign disinformation campaigns. It also found that a comprehensive study of the entire psyops branch hasn’t been completed in 20 years. (Daniel Boguslaw, The Intercept)

Business and Finance

Boeing’s troubles are spilling over to its airline customers: After three years of scrambling to hire and train pilots, United Airlines is encouraging its aviators to take unpaid time off next month, the latest example of how Boeing’s woes are rippling through the industry. (Lori Aratani, Washington Post)

New federal railroad regulation requires two-person crews: Sen. Sherrod Brown called the regulation an “important first step” but said passing the Railway Safety Act would ensure that railroad lobbyists couldn’t roll back the rule. (Sam Allard, Axios)

A breakthrough in plastic recycling is coming up short: Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, and other big companies are promoting a new generation of recycling plants, called “advanced” or “chemical” recycling, that can recycle many more plastic products. So far, the new technology is failing to deliver on its promise. (Hiroko Tabuchi, New York Times)

Health Care

As obesity rises, Big Food and dietitians push “anti-diet” advice: Global food marketers are seeking to cash in on the “anti-diet” movement, a social media campaign to combat weight stigma and an obsession with thinness. The rapid spread of anti-diet messaging — and the alliance between dietitian influencers and the food industry — has alarmed the public health community. (Sasha Chavkin et al., Washington Post)

Scientists urge FDA to rescind approval of test for opioid addiction risk: A group of public health experts and scientists called the FDA’s approval of AvertD a mistake that relied on faulty science and puts patients at risk. (David Ovalle, Washington Post)

More than 1 in 8 people feel mistreated during childbirth, new study finds: The odds of facing mistreatment increase if a person identifies as LGBTQ+, has a history of substance abuse, is diagnosed with a mood disorder, is unmarried, has a history of domestic violence, or is on Medicaid. (Kerry Breen, CBS News)


Immigration and Border Security:

The U.S. is rebuilding a legal pathway for refugees. The election could change that

A federal judge says migrants can sue the company that flew them to Martha’s Vineyard

Texas National Guard member charged with migrant smuggling

Other News:

What are we told about the health of Biden and Trump? They decide

2 brothers in Trump media insider-trading scheme plead guilty

Trump Media saved in 2022 by Russian-American under criminal investigation

As elections loom, congressional maps challenged as discriminatory will remain in place

America has legislated itself into competing red, blue versions of education

Because It’s Friday

White House directs NASA to create time standard for the moon: Given the growing lunar race among nations and private companies and the fact that the same clock on Earth moves at a different rate on the moon, NASA was tasked with developing Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC), a unified standard of time for the moon and other celestial bodies. (Joey Roulette and Will Dunham, Reuters)

Upcoming Events

📌 Opaque Shell Companies: A Risk to National Security, Public Health, and Rule of Law. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control. Tuesday, April 9, 2:00 p.m., 608 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

📌 Screening and Q&A: “Jawboned: Miss Information vs. Free Speech”. Thursday, April 11, 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC.

Hot Docs

🔥📃 GAO - Nuclear Power Plants: NRC Should Take Actions to Fully Consider the Potential Effects of Climate Change. GAO-24-106326(PDF)