Though the year-end holidays generally indicate a massive slowdown in government activity, a few things of note slipped in under the wire:
Last call for legislation
Congress passed a number of bills just before heading off on holiday recess, including the Connected Government Act for promoting mobile-friendly government websites.
Other bills of note include the Federal Register Printing Savings Act of 2017, which prevents the Government Publishing Office from furnishing a printed copy of the Federal Register to any member of Congress unless specifically requested, and the INTERDICT (International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology) Act, which will expand the number of chemical screening devices available to Customs and Border Protection and dedicate personnel to interpret data collected by those devices.
The Senate also introduced the Secure Elections Act, which recognizes state authority in conducting elections while also designating the Department of Homeland Security and its secretary as responsible for information sharing on credible threats to those elections.
Social media policymaking
President Donald Trump tweeted often over the holidays, offering some indications of U.S. foreign and international policy. Among the most popular topics was the protests that started in Iran on Dec. 28, 2017, over economic and political difficulties. Between Dec. 29, 2017, and Jan. 1, 2018, Trump tweeted seven times about Iran, frequently warning that the U.S. is “watching.”
Trump’s tweets called out China for allowing oil into North Korea and again called North Korean leader Kim Jung Un “rocket man.” He also criticized U.S. aid to Pakistan, calling the country a “safe haven to terrorists.”
Trump called out the Post Office for its shipping agreements with Amazon and called the Justice department a “deep state” over its lack of action against Huma Abedin, James Comey and “others.” He also congratulated himself on his strictness on the commercial aviation industry, which once again had a year with zero deaths for 2017.
In addition, Trump took time to repeat his popular sentiments against media “dishonesty” and in celebration of the recent tax bill.
A deregulatory environment
The Trump administration took steps to remove or roll back environmental regulations. The Washington Post reports that the Interior Department rescinded a 2015 Bureau of Land Management rule that would have set limitations on fracking on public lands. The administration softened a pair of Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement safety and pollution prevention regulations established in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, the Post reports. There was also a rollback of fines associated with the killing of migratory birds by energy exploration companies.
Money, money, money
Pay tables released by the Office of Personnel Management over the holidays indicate that both Senior Executive Service and General Schedule employees will receive a base pay bump in 2018.
Buried under a Tweetstorm
The Library of Congress decided to change its Twitter archiving policy, choosing to preserve only the tweets around nationally important events rather than the entire public archive.
Reshaping the Pentagon
The next 12 months will see the creation of three new offices within the Pentagon that report directly to the secretary of defense.
FERC contemplates cyber rule change
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released the text of a proposed rule that would expand required cyber incident reporting to include any time an adversary attempts to break into an energy company’s networks.
NSA fills watchdog position
The Senate confirmed Robert Storch to be the Inspector General for the National Security Agency.
Transgender troops decision
The Trump administration dropped its legal challenges to the Jan. 1 deadline for the Defense Department to begin accepting transgender troops.