The longest government shutdown in history is over, at least for now.
President Trump announced on Friday he would agree to a short-term deal to reopen shuttered agencies after a 35-day stalemate. Congress passed the stopgap spending measure hours later.
The spending bill, which doesn’t include any funding for Trump’s proposed border wall, would fund agencies through Feb. 15. In a speech at the White House, the president suggested he could still declare a national emergency to fund the wall and didn’t rule out forcing another shutdown when the stopgap runs dry.
The agreement came the day more than 800,000 federal employees missed their second paycheck. Those workers—300,000 of whom were home on furlough—will now soon be made whole. As of Friday, the government had racked up a bill of more than $3 billion to pay employees not to work.
“I want to thank all the incredible federal workers and their amazing families who have shown such amazing devotion in the face of this recent hardship,” Trump said. “Many of you have suffered far greater, far more than anyone but your families would know or understand.”
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., on Tuesday introduced legislation that would automatically renew appropriations to agencies in the event of a funding lapse, in effect making government shutdowns a thing of the past.
The cumbersomely named Stop Shutdowns Transferring Unnecessary Pain and Inflicting Damage In The Coming Years Act, or Stop STUPIDITY Act, would guarantee agencies receive funding at the previous year’s levels if Congress can’t pass an appropriations bill by the start of the new fiscal year.
However, the legislative branch and Executive Office of the President wouldn’t be covered by the bill, forcing them to feel the pain of any potential shutdown.
“The Stop STUPIDITY Act takes the aggressive but necessary step of forcing the President and Congress to do the jobs they were elected to do,” Warner said in a statement. “Workers, business owners and tax payers are currently paying the price of D.C. gridlock and my legislation will put an end to that.”
The State of Cyber
White-hat hackers may soon be allowed to scour the State Department for cyber vulnerabilities.
The Hack Your State Department Act, which cleared the House on Tuesday, would stand up bug bounty and vulnerability disclosure programs where hackers could report security gaps in the agency’s networks and databases. Such initiatives have already proven widely successful at the Pentagon, and the president recently signed a bill requiring the Homeland Security Department to stand up its own program.
The Cyber of State
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Ranking Member Michael McCaul, R-Texas, reintroduced legislation that would create an ambassador for cyberspace at the State Department.
The Cyber Diplomacy Act would stand up the Office of International Cyberspace Policy within the department and set basic principles for how nations should behave online. First reported by Politico, the legislation would also push the White House to bring together the international community to hammer out rules for cyberspace.
A similar version of bill passed the House last session but never received a vote in the Senate.
Does Anyone Object?
A group of Senate Democrats wants to know how the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile will affect prices and innovation in the wireless market.
“In 2011 … both the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission found that the reduction of the number of wireless carriers from four to three would harm consumers,” Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Tom Udall, D-N.M., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., wrote in a letter.
“Given how many more people rely today on smartphone for connectivity than in 2011, regulators should be just as, if not more, skeptical of this latest consolidation effort,” they said. In the letter, they requested Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., schedule a hearing on the merger.
Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace
The House Technology Accountability Caucus is giving Oracle the chance to defend itself against claims the company discriminated against women and minority employees.
On Tuesday, the Labor Department filed a lawsuit accusing the tech giant of systematically underpaying women and people of color to the tune of $400 million. In a letter to chairman Larry Ellison and other executives, a dozen lawmakers asked the company to explain how it sets wages and provide a demographic breakdown of its workforce and pay rates.
“Considering this deeply troubling federal accusation that has dire consequences on both women and communities of color, we deem it immensely important that you provide a proper, transparent, and statistically accurate refutation of the claims made in the Department of Labor filing,” they wrote on Thursday. The company has 14 days to respond.
As the new Congress finalizes its committee roster, lawmakers will (slowly) start grabbing tech and cyber issues by the horns. Here’s the week’s agenda:
On Tuesday at 10 a.m., the Senate Armed Services Committee will assess the national security threats posed by Russia and China.
At 2:30 p.m., the group’s Cybersecurity subcommittee will examine the Pentagon’s cyber policies and posture.