The Paper Trail: September 19, 2023

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The House Office of the Whistleblower Ombuds will have a pop-up tabling event in the Rayburn Cafeteria, Thursday, September 21 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. House staff can stop by to learn more about the Office and pick up copies of their latest resources. For more information, please contact Charmise Jackson at [email protected].

Working with Whistleblowers on Oversight and Investigations: POGO’s virtual training on how to work safely and effectively with whistleblowers will be Friday, September 22 at 12 noon. This event is only open to staff in Congress, GAO, and CRS. Register HERE.

Top stories for September 19, 2023

Regulations aimed at derailing a Schedule F revival proposed by OPM: New proposed OPM rules aim to serve as a “speed bump” to the former Trump administration’s controversial “Schedule F” plan to convert the federal workforce to at-will employees and strip thousands of workers of civil service protections — a plan that several Republican presidential candidates have endorsed. (Erich Wagner, Government Executive)

Why the FDA took so long to tackle a disputed cold remedy: How phenylephrine stayed on the market for decades despite questions about its effectiveness is a tangled story involving old drug standards, the proliferation of meth labs using everyday cold remedies, the COVID pandemic, and an FDA hampered by antiquated rules and a morass of procedures. (Christina Jewett, New York Times)

IRS vows to crack down on predatory preparers, change audit strategy: After a report last month described how shady tax preparers have often gone unpunished by the IRS and DOJ, IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel told Congress that the agency would renew its enforcement effort. (Julie Zauzmer Weil, Washington Post)

$212B in suspicious activity reports to FinCENin 2021 concerned identity, officials report: Gaps and breakdowns in identity processes are enabling illicit finance to occur through financial institutions, according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the Treasury office tasked with combatting money laundering and other illegal activities. (Natalie Alms, NextGov/FCW)

Hunter Biden sues IRS, alleging violation of his privacy: The lawsuit alleges IRS criminal investigative agents Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler illegally revealed Hunter Biden’s tax details and that the IRS failed to keep the two men from sharing Biden’s financial information. (Betsy Woodruff Swan, Politico)

🔎 See Also: Jordan demands documents from Hunter Biden probe, interview with top prosecutor (Rebeca Beitsch, The Hill)

State-run, land-grant HBCUs are owed more than $13 billion, the White House says: Land-grant, historically Black colleges and universities have missed out on more than $13 billion they should have gotten in the last three decades or so, according to the Biden administration. In several states, the funding gap between majority-Black and majority-white land-grant institutions ranged from about $1 billion to $2 billion. (Ayana Archie, NPR)

Classified Documents

Trump wrote to-do lists for assistant on White House documents marked classified: Molly Michael, one of former President Trump’s assistants, told federal investigators that Trump repeatedly wrote to-do lists for her on notecards used to brief Trump about phone calls with foreign leaders and other international matters. (Katherine Faulders, Mike Levine, and Alexander Mallin, ABC News)


Trump says it was his decision to persist with 2020 election challenges: Trump said he dismissed the views of his own lawyers in continuing to challenge his 2020 defeat because he did not respect them, saying in an interview on Sunday that he had made up his own mind that the election had been “rigged.” (Jason Lange, Reuters)

Federal agencies promised to tackle extremism. Years later, experts see efforts sputtering out: Democrats demanded answers on extremism in federal law enforcement from DHS two months ago. They’re still waiting for a response. After similar delays from the military, experts wonder, “Will extremism win?” (Will Carless, USA Today)

Lawmakers are spending way more to keep themselves safe. Is it enough? Candidates running for House and Senate offices increased campaign spending on security by more than 500% between the 2020 election and the 2022 midterms. Lawmakers say more has to be done to protect themselves and their staff from a dramatic rise in threats. (Greg Morton, Marianna Sotomayor, and Camila DeChalus, Washington Post)

Police Misconduct

Most cops involved in high-profile killings since 2014 kept their police licenses: Out of 54 police officers involved in high-profile killings in the last nine years, only 10 had their certifications or licenses revoked as a matter of disciplinary action. (Gabb Schivone, The Intercept)

Defense and Veterans Affairs

How did it take the Pentagon 28 hours to find the missing F-35? The jet’s transponder, which helps locate the aircraft, was not working. Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that the Pentagon in 2019 was concerned the plane could be vulnerable to hackers. (Harriet Alexander and Stacy Liberatore, Daily Mail)

🔎 See Also: That jet the Marines lost? Taxpayers will pay $1.7 trillion for the F-35 program (Zachary B. Wolf, CNN)

Injured women vets lonelier, more stressed than male peers: Research found that female veterans, especially those with lingering injuries, struggle more with loneliness, anxiety, and reintegration into civilian life than their male peers, although those gaps have closed slightly in recent years. (Leo Shane III, Military Times)

Business and Finance

The kids on the night shift: Thousands of migrant children in the U.S. are working dangerous jobs. In many towns, the practice is an open secret that everyone lives with. (Hannah Dreier, New York Times)

Regulators struggle to rein in Amazon on safety for warehouse workers: Several state and federal authorities have opened investigations into the increased risk of ergonomic injury and musculoskeletal disorders at Amazon warehouses. (Caroline O’Donovan, Washington Post)

EV makers’ use of Chinese suppliers raises concerns about forced labor: Firms that appear to undermine a U.S. ban on products made in Xinjiang emerge near the top of Tesla’s sprawling network of suppliers and are becoming embedded in the electric vehicle supply chain. (Evan Halper, Washington Post)

Health Care

“The rule has sticks as well”: Biden’s getting tough with health insurers: The administration claims insurance companies are using loopholes to deny mental health care. (Ben Leonard, Politico)

As younger children increasingly die by suicide, better tracking and prevention is sought: Suicide ranks as a top leading cause of death among children ages 5 to 11, according to recent studies, and appears to be increasing in the past decade, especially among Black youth. (Cheryl Platzman Weinstock, CBS News)


Immigration and Border Security:

Illegal border crossings are on the rise: 7,500 migrants were stopped on Sunday alone

Why Los Angeles has avoided the migrant crisis hitting New York

Other News:

Billions pour into Education Department as student loans restart

“My vote was rejected”: Trial underway in Texas over new voting law

How a shutdown could blindfold the Fed

One of America’s first women’s colleges is accused of paying men more

Upcoming Events

📌 Oversight of United States Capitol Security: Assessing Security Failures on January 6, 2021. Committee on House Administration; Subcommittee on Oversight. Tuesday, September 19, 3:00 p.m., 1310 Longworth House Office Building.

📌 Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice. House Judiciary Committee. Wednesday, September 20, 10:00 a.m., 2141 Rayburn House Office Building.

📌 Oversight of the Federal Election Commission. Committee on House Administration. Wednesday, September 20, 10:15 a.m., 1310 Longworth House Office Building.

Webinar: Dollars and Demographics - How Census Data Shapes Federal Funding Distribution. Project On Government Oversight / Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Tuesday, September 26, 2 p.m.

Nominations & Appointments


  • Jennifer L. Fain - Inspector General, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • Christopher Henry Schroeder - Member, Board of Trustees of the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation
  • Daryle Williams - Member, National Council on the Humanities


  • Claudia Cimini - Member, Board of Visitors to the United States Merchant Marine Academy
  • Susan A. Davis - Member, Board of Visitors to the United States Merchant Marine Academy
  • Eric P. Ebeling - Member, Board of Visitors to the United States Merchant Marine Academy
  • William Inboden - Council of Governors
  • Jed Katz - Member, J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board
  • Nicholas M. Logothetis - Member, Board of Visitors to the United States Merchant Marine Academy
  • Eric Mindich - Member, Library of Congress Trust Fund Board
  • Michael J. Rodriguez - Member, Board of Visitors to the United States Merchant Marine Academy