A few items that caught our attention on Wednesday:

Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press - Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

IRS is about to pay $70 million in bonuses despite administration directive. That’s according to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who said his office has learned that the IRS is executing an agreement with the employees’ union on Wednesday to pay the bonuses. A directive from the White House budget office tells agencies to not pay discretionary monetary awards under the sequester “unless legally required,” according to an Associated Press article.

Obama relying on untested oversight board to wade into NSA surveillance. An obscure oversight board that the president wants to scrutinize the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance system — the U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board — is scheduled to meet Wednesday, but the group has operated fitfully during the past eight years due to congressional infighting and censorship by government lawyers, according to an Associated Press article.

Three Pinocchios for claim that White House was “aware” of IRS abuses. Fact Checker columnist Glenn Kessler made that determination for remarks by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who referred to “some criminal behavior that at least we know was back at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” according to Wednesday’s Fact Checker article.

Gingrich: Electromagnetic pulse could be “catastrophe that ends civilization.”  Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the fallout from a high-altitude nuclear blast known as an EMP, which can damage or destroy power grids and electronics, could deal a deathblow to society, according to a report from Politico.

Pointed questions for FCC nominee during hearing. Some lawmakers objected to Tom Wheeler’s history and writings, but the president’s pick to head the Federal Communications Commission, a venture capitalist who previously worked as a cable and wireless lobbyist, appears likely to clear the first hurdle in his confirmation process, according to a Politico article.

VA efforts to address claims backlog could backfire. The Department of Veterans Affairs has taken steps to address a backlog of disability claims, but congressional overseers say the efforts may cause other backlogs with appeals, according to a Federal News Radio article.

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