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
There will be no Paper Trail on Friday, January 19.
Applications are now open for a two-day intensive Boot Camp on the art and practice of oversight and investigations hosted by POGO, the Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy, and The Lugar Center. This training is only open to staff in Congress. Apply at THIS LINK by Thursday, January 18.
Top stories for January 16, 2024
3 migrants drowned near area where Texas has denied entry to federal border agents: A woman and two children drowned in the Rio Grande on Friday while trying to enter the U.S. near a section of the southern border where Texas National Guard soldiers have prevented federal Border Patrol agents from processing and rescuing migrants. (Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News)
As FAA launches an audit of Boeing, jet maker pledges more steps: Boeing said it will undertake additional inspections of its 737 jets and review the work of its supplier, Spirit AeroSystems. Another Boeing jet appeared to malfunction this weekend when a 737-800 operated by All Nippon Airways was forced to turn around after takeoff because of a crack in the cockpit windshield. (Justine McDaniel, Washington Post)
A potentially huge Supreme Court case has a hidden conservative backer: The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments tomorrow that, on paper, are about a group of commercial fishermen who oppose a government fee. The lawyers who helped propel the case to the court have a far more powerful backer with a far-reaching agenda: Charles Koch, a petrochemicals billionaire and champion of anti-regulatory causes. (Hiroko Tabuchi, New York Times)
EPA expands “high priority” probe into AT&T, Verizon lead-contaminated cables: The EPA is expanding its investigation into potential risks posed by lead-covered cables installed nationwide by major telecom companies. After finding “more than 100 readings with elevated lead near cables,” the EPA sent letters to AT&T and Verizon in December, requesting a meeting later this month. (Ashley Belanger, Ars Technica)
IRS has “unconscionable delays” in helping identity theft victims, taxpayer advocate says: The average wait time for taxpayers trying to resolve fraudulent returns, coupled with legitimate filers being mistakenly flagged as fraudulent, has become a top challenge for the IRS, according to the National Taxpayer Advocate. (Natalie Alms, Nextgov/FCW)
Senate to vote on potential freeze to Israel aid as Democrats question conduct of war: Progressives in the Senate have proposed a raft of measures in recent weeks that reflect their uneasiness with Israel’s conduct of the war and raise questions about whether and under what circumstances the U.S. would send a fresh infusion of funding to back the country. (Karoun Demirjian, New York Times)
Russian air passengers face peril as planes show strain of sanctions: Nearly two years of sanctions have left Russian airlines struggling to obtain vital spare parts and, as a result, shortcutting safety standards — in some cases with government approval. (Robyn Dixon, Washington Post)
Bite mark analysis has no basis in science, experts now say. Why is it still being used in court?: Several governmental scientific bodies have concluded that bite mark analysis evidence has no basis in science. Yet it’s still allowed to be used in courts, and many people remain in prison because of it. (Ken Dilanian and Michael Kosnar, NBC News)
Defense and Veterans Affairs
Senate committee wants details on VA’s harassment investigation: On the heels of a House panel voting to subpoena the VA as part of a probe into how the agency is addressing sexual harassment claims made within its Office of Resolution Management, Diversity and Inclusion, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee also requested more information. (Carten Cordell, Government Executive)
Business and Finance
Fast-food giants overwork teenagers, driving America’s child labor crisis: Child labor violations have more than tripled in the past 10 years, with violations in food service increasing almost sixfold. The fast-food industry is fueling this surge, illegally scheduling children 13 and younger to work late and long hours and to operate dangerous kitchen equipment. (Lauren Kaori Gurley and Emmanuel Martinez, Washington Post)
Biden administration to fine oil and gas companies for excess methane: A plan to impose a fee of $900 to $1,500 on every excess ton of methane emissions would be the first federal price on greenhouse gas pollution. But the proposal relies on energy producers to self-report if their methane emissions exceed levels set by Congress, with no provision for the government to verify that data. (Lisa Friedman, New York Times)
Child abusers are covering their tracks with better use of crypto: Vendors of child porn are learning to use cryptocurrency with significantly more skill and stealth. (Andy Greenberg, Ars Technica)
OpenAI won’t let politicians use its tech for campaigning, for now: OpenAI said on Monday it won’t allow people to use its tech to build applications for political campaigns and lobbying, to discourage people from voting, or to spread misinformation about the voting process. But it will be difficult for the company to enforce these policies. (Gerrit De Vynck, Washington Post)
U.S. health care isn’t ready for a surge of seniors with disabilities: The number of older Americans with disabilities will soar in the decades ahead. The health-care system isn’t ready to address their needs. (Judith Graham, Washington Post)
Diabetes is fueling an amputation crisis for men in San Antonio: A combination of genetics, sedentary lifestyles, poor access to health care, and diets high in processed foods is fueling a diabetes crisis in Latino communities. (Edgar Sandoval, New York Times)