The Washington Post

Government travel spending levels off after years of cuts

A few items that caught our attention Tuesday:

Government travel spending levels off after years of cuts: Federal data shows that the government reduced travel expenditures by 8 percent so far this year, spending about $4.1 billion through May, compared to $4.5 billion through May 2013. Such costs have dropped 27 percent since 2010 as agencies deal with tighter budgets and more travel restrictions, according to a Federal Times report.


A jet takes off from Reagan National Airport. (J. David Ake/AP)

PTO chief allegedly intervened illegally in hiring: An inspector general reported that Patent and Trademark Office Commissioner Deborah Cohn used her position to ensure the hiring of her relative’s boyfriend, even though the candidate had been previously rejected for the job twice, violating a number of federal regulations, according to a Washington Times report and a Federal News Radio article.

U.S. says Chinese hackers targeting smaller federal agencies: U.S. authorities have detected Chinese intrusions on the computer networks of the Government Printing Office and the Government Accountability Office, showing that hackers from the Asian nation have turned their attention to obscure federal agencies after years of attacks on higher-profile government targets, according to a New York Times report.

Air Force to cut more than 3,000 positions: The Air Force this week said it will offer incentives to reduce its workforce by nearly 3,500 positions over the next five years as part of a plan to save $1.6 billion and comply with a Pentagon directive to slash its costs and staff by at least 20 percent. Many of the positions will be civilian, and Virginia will bear the lion’s share of the cuts, according to an Associated Press article.

Clinton-era federal judge nominee finally wins approval: Ronnie White, whose nomination for a federal judgeship during the Clinton administration was rejected by the Senate Republicans because of concerns that he was soft on criminals, has won confirmation to sit on the federal bench, according to an In the Loop article.

Defense officials back latest war documentary: Gen. John Allen is among a group of high-profile Defense Department officials who have backed “The Hornet’s Nest,” a documentary about Army and Marine forces fighting in Afghanistan, as an accurate depiction of life in combat, according to a Checkpoint article.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

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The Democrats debated Thursday night. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Chris Cillizza on the Democratic debate...
On Clinton: She poked a series of holes in Sanders's health-care proposal and broadly cast him as someone who talks a big game but simply can't hope to achieve his goals.

On Sanders: If the challenge was to show that he could be a candidate for people other than those who already love him, he didn't make much progress toward that goal. But he did come across as more well-versed on foreign policy than in debates past.
The PBS debate in 3 minutes
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Hillary Clinton, during the PBS Democratic debate, a night in which she and Sanders shared many of the same positions on issues
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Donald Trump leads in the polls as he faces rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz heading into the S.C. GOP primary on Feb. 20.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
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Trump’s claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion
The billionaire's claim is highly dubious. Based on the costs of the Israeli security barrier (which is mostly fence) and the cost of the relatively simple fence already along the U.S.-Mexico border, an $8 billion price tag is simply not credible.
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