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The Paper Trail: October 3, 2023

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

Editor’s Note

There will be no Paper Trail on Friday, October 6.

Top stories for October 3, 2023

Social Security overpayments draw scrutiny and outrage from members of Congress: Members of Congress called on the Social Security Administration to answer for issuing $21.6 billion in payments it says beneficiaries weren’t entitled to receive — and then demanding the money back. Many of the recipients are elderly, poor, or disabled and have already spent the money. (David Hilzenrath and Jodie Fleischer, Government Executive)

Pediatricians, parents struggle to get updated COVID vaccine for kids: The troubled rollout of updated COVID vaccines is proving especially challenging for physicians and parents seeking to immunize children. (Lena H. Sun and Fenit Nirappil, Washington Post)

The Americans most threatened by eviction: young children: According to a new study, about a quarter of Black children under the age of 5 in rental households face the threat of eviction in a typical year, and all children are disproportionately at risk. (Emily Badger, Claire Cain Miller, and Alicia Parlapiano, New York Times)

Sam Bankman-Fried’s fraud ran through Washington, prosecutors say: In addition to the criminal case, lawyers representing over 1 million former FTX customers and creditors in a separate bankruptcy proceeding are trying to claw back over 300 political contributions Sam Bankman-Fried made to members of Congress and outside groups that support them. (Tory Newmyer, Washington Post)

Insurrection

Trump co-defendant pleads guilty in Georgia election case: Scott Hall, one of the 18 defendants charged along with Donald Trump for allegedly interfering with the 2020 election results in Georgia, pleaded guilty on Friday. Hall is the first defendant to enter a plea in the case. (Charlie Gile et al., NBC News)

🔎 See Also: Kerik fights subpoena for testimony in Georgia with push for immunity deal (Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill)

🔎 See Also: Supreme Court rejects Eastman’s bid to scrap rulings that sent his emails to Jan. 6 investigators (Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, Politico)

Russia-Ukraine War

Pentagon sees months left in supply of weapons for Ukraine: The Pentagon has $5.2 billion left in its coffers to provide weapons and other security assistance to Ukraine, even after Congress declined to include more funding for the war in a weekend bill to keep the government open. Officials believe the money could last a few more months. (Gordon Lubold, Lindsay Wise, and Isabel Coles, Wall Street Journal)

Leaked U.S. strategy on Ukraine sees corruption as the real threat: The Biden administration is more worried about corruption in Ukraine than it publicly admits, according to a confidential U.S. strategy document. Graft in Ukraine has long been a concern of the White House, but the topic was deemphasized after Russia’s invasion. (Nahal Toosi, Politico)

Police Misconduct

He’s a dab of glue in a broken city. Can he hold it together? Spiking rates of homelessness, drug overdoses, and violent crime overwhelm the public safety infrastructure of U.S. cities. Filling the void are thousands of private security guards hired by office buildings, stores, schools, and parking lots in what has become one of the country’s fastest-growing industries. (Eli Saslow, New York Times)

Baton Rouge officers accused of covering up use of excessive force: The charges were announced amid a series of scandals in the department, which is the subject of an FBI investigation and at least three federal lawsuits accusing officers of abusing and humiliating detainees. (Amanda Holpuch, New York Times)

Defense and Veterans Affairs

Decades later, closed military bases remain a toxic menace: Between 1988 and 2005, 800 military bases across the U.S. were shuttered. Left behind were poisonous stockpiles of unexploded ordnance and industrial solvents that many communities are still waiting to be cleaned up. (Ralph Vartabedian, New York Times)

Army vet at center of burn pits fight wins $2.5 million verdict: Le Roy Torres, a well-known figure in national veterans advocacy efforts, had been arguing in court for the last six years that he was improperly forced out of his job as a Texas state trooper after complaining of health problems linked to exposure to burn pits during his service in Iraq. (Leo Shane III, Military Times)

Business and Finance

Federal court halts private grant program for Black female entrepreneurs: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit temporarily blocked an Atlanta-based venture fund from awarding grants to Black female entrepreneurs, ruling that the program was “racially exclusionary” and “substantially likely” to violate a federal law prohibiting racial discrimination in contracting. (Julian Mark, Washington Post)

High court to weigh whether disability activists can sue hotels after online searches: Deborah Laufer filed hundreds of lawsuits against hotels for failing to include accessibility information on their websites as required by the Americans With Disabilities Act. (Ann E. Marimow, Washington Post)

Tech

“IDK what to do”: Thousands of teen boys are being extorted in sexting scams: Cases of financial sextortion — in which predators befriend victims online under false pretenses, entice them to send incriminating photos, and then demand payment under threat that they’ll send the photos to the victim’s family and friends — have exploded in recent years, with teen boys being specific targets. (Chris Moody, Washington Post)

Tom Hanks, MrBeast and other celebrities warn over AI deep fake scams: Artificial intelligence has been a major talking point in Hollywood as multiple celebrities have come forward denouncing the use of their likenesses in AI deep fakes. (Savannah Fortis, Cointelegraph)

Infrastructure

Arizona governor moves to end Saudi-owned farm’s controversial leases: The move to kick a Saudi-owned alfalfa farm off a critical stretch of state land occurs amid a firestorm of controversy over foreign extraction of natural resources as well as deepening dilemmas over water scarcity as climate change dries out the western U.S. (Isaac Stanley-Becker and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Washington Post)

Health Care

FDA moves to regulate laboratory medical tests: The FDA is moving to regulate a broad swath of laboratory medical tests, saying some tests are unreliable and potentially hurt patients. (Laurie McGinley and Vanessa Montalbano, Washington Post)

CDC’s proposes new “morning after” guidance to curb STI spread: The CDC issued a draft of new guidance that would advise doctors to prescribe a common antibiotic to stem the spread of certain sexually transmitted infections. But there is concern this practice could lead to antibacterial resistance. (Joseph Choi and Nathaniel Weixel, The Hill)

ICYMI

Immigration and Border Security:

Unlawful crossings along southern border reach yearly high as U.S. struggles to contain mass migration

Other News:

The “terrifying” trade-offs millions of Americans face as student loan repayments resume

Backroom battles between IRS agents, prosecutors in Hunter Biden tax case

Fuller picture emerges of the 13 federal executions at the end of Trump’s presidency

The next targets for the group that overturned Roe

Stanford fined over nondisclosure of foreign funds

Cigna to pay $172 million to settle charges it overcharged Medicare Advantage plans

Hot Docs

🔥📃 DHS OIG: CBP, ICE, and Secret Service Did Not Adhere to Privacy Policies or Develop Sufficient Policies Before Procuring and Using Commercial Telemetry Data (REDACTED). OIG-23-61(PDF)

Nominations & Appointments

Nominations

  • Aprille Joy Ericsson - Assistant Secretary of Defense (Science and Technology)
  • John N. Nkengasong - Ambassador-At-Large for Global Health Security and Diplomacy, Department of State