Jamie Dupree’s Washington Insider

GOP slugs it out on immigration

10:28 pm Jul. 31, 2014

On Wednesday night I wrote how it “could be a messy final few hours in Congress on Thursday.”

I sure hit that one on the head.

Instead of focusing their attacks on Democrats and President Obama over immigration issues, Republicans in Congress spent a full day battling each other on Thursday, as House GOP leaders delayed the start of a summer break in an effort to approve a bill that deals with

Rumbling to a Congressional break

7:26 pm Jul. 30, 2014

It could be a messy final few hours in Congress on Thursday, as lawmakers get ready to take a five week summer break that lasts until after Labor Day, as final action is assured on a VA reform bill, but other major legislation remains in limbo as the smell of jet fumes and lure of vacation envelops Capitol Hill.

Here’s a rundown of what might – and might not – get

Report: Workers got full pay and bonuses for little work

10:43 pm Jul. 29, 2014

In a new report, internal investigators say more than $5 million in federal resources were wasted at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as a group of workers were allowed to draw full pay, benefits and bonuses while doing little actual work for several years.

“The volume of hours charged to Other Time – which were hours that paralegals were paid their full salary, but were not working – was remarkably

VA reform deal price tag at $17 billion

7:12 pm Jul. 28, 2014

Despite adding billions to the federal deficit, a bipartisan $17 billion plan to help reform the VA seems to be on its way to approval this week in the Congress, as key lawmakers vowed on Monday to push the bill through the House and Senate by the end of this week, before the Congress leaves town on an extended summer break.

“It is a compromise,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who

Congress stumbles toward a summer break

2:19 pm Jul. 27, 2014

The focus in the Congress this week is on getting a few things done before the annual summer break for lawmakers, as after this Friday, the House and Senate won’t be in legislative session again until after Labor Day, what’s known in Washington, D.C. as the August Recess.

Usually, the run to the August break in Congress is filled with late nights in July, as the House and Senate would feverishly

VA scandal touches a nerve

5:30 pm Jul. 15, 2014

As a reporter, you can always tell when a story takes another step forward because listeners and readers begin getting in touch with you to either tell their stories or to offer up insights of their own. And that’s where we seem to have arrived with questions about the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I too am a whistleblower who has been fired not once but twice for speaking out,” wrote a

Whistleblowers rap VA’s “culture of corruption”

10:49 pm Jul. 14, 2014

In a hearing that stretched until almost 1 am, it was a familiar story line before the House Veterans Affairs Committee on Monday night – but from a different part of the VA – as another panel of whistleblowers detailed how they raised questions about troubles inside the agency, only to face retaliation for sending their concerns to their superiors.

“They were instructing us to change the dates on claims, on

New charges of VA data manipulation

2:45 pm Jul. 14, 2014

Internal investigators at the Department of Veterans Affairs have told Congress that some VA workers were “cooking the books” on benefit claims by veterans to make it look like the work was being done in a more timely fashion, much like earlier charges that VA schedulers were changing dates to mask long delays in veterans getting health care appointments.

“They manipulated the numbers,” Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) told me, “which is

Congress grapples with Obama border plan

7:17 pm Jul. 10, 2014

As top Obama Administration officials presented their arguments for a $3.7 billion plan to deal with a surge of kids coming over the border into the United States, there was evidence both of tough sledding ahead for the White House and maybe also the seeds of a deal to approve such an emergency plan.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” argued Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who acknowledged that one important

Feds wrongly paid out $106 billion in 2013

8:44 pm Jul. 9, 2014

In the bureaucratic lexicon of Washington, D.C., they are known as “improper payments,” where Uncle Sam wrongly pays out billions of dollars each year. On Wednesday, a House committee was told that those payments totaled almost $106 billion in 2013.

“Actually, it’s over $100 billion each of the last five years,” said Rep. John Mica (R-FL). “That’s a staggering half a trillion dollars in improper payments.”

The figure of $105.8 billion for