Monday morning federal headlines - Dec. 19, 2011

Monday - 12/19/2011, 8:03am EST

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Amy Morris discuss throughout the show each day. The Newscast is designed to give FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • President Obama has signed a fiscal 2012 spending bill into law. The bill passed the Senate on Saturday. The president's signature clears the way for federal agencies to start on new projects. The Pentagon gets a slight increase. Most civilian agencies face small cuts under the $1 trillion package. The budget follows an agreement between Congress and the White House made last August to limit federal spending. (Federal News Radio)

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged six former top executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with civil fraud. The SEC says the executives misled the government and taxpayers about risky subprime mortgages, the Associated Press reported. The agencies' two former CEOs, Fannie's Daniel Mudd and Freddie's Richard Syron, are among those charged. They led the companies when the housing bubble burst in late 2006 and 2007. The four other top executives also worked for the companies during that time. Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee about half of U.S. mortgages, or nearly 31 million loans. The Bush administration seized control of the mortgage giants in September 2008. (AP)

  • Federal employees can breathe a sigh of relief for now. Congress will not freeze federal pay or change the annuity formula to fund an extension of payroll tax cuts and jobless benefits. It was part of the budget bill passed Saturday. Instead, the extension will be paid for through an increase in fees to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It gives lawmakers two more months to come up with a more permanent decision on how to pay for a longer term payroll tax extension. (Federal News Radio)

  • The Energy Department and Illinois officials have broken ground on a new research facility for the Fermi National Accelerator Lab, according to Energy.gov. When completed, the lab will have 42,000 new square feet of specialized space. It will house scientists, engineers and academics working to commercialize results from accelerator experiments. The Energy Department contributed $13 million to refurbish an old industrial building on the site in Batavia, Ill. Money also comes from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. (Energy.gov)

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection is claiming early success with a new system to process rail and sea shipping manifests, according to CPSC.gov. Brian L. Roberts, CEO of Comcast, has agreed to pay a $500,000 penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission stock trading charges. The FTC noted Roberts made trades in Comcast stock mistakenly and reported them immediately. The SEC charged Daniel Ruettinger and 12 associates with securities fraud over his Rudy Nutrition sports drink. Reuttinger became famous in the 1990s over a film about his drive to play football at Notre Dame. (CPSC.gov)

  • A Medal of Honor recipient has settled a lawsuit against a defense contractor. Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer sued BAE Systems for making false statements about him after he objected to a company plan to sell sophisticated sniper scopes to Afghanistan. The Wall Street Journal reports, the settlement was amicable. The company never did follow through on the sales plan. Meyer is also the subject of a series by the McClatchy newspaper chain. The papers report that the Marine Corps exaggerated details of Meyer's actions in Afghanistan. The story concludes that Meyers nevertheless deserves the nation's highest military award. (Wall Street Journal/McClatchy)

  • Public Printer Bill Boarman is stepping down. His nomination has been blocked a final time in the Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says there are problems with Boarman's confirmation but didn't say what. Boarman's nomination was blocked earlier this year because of a dispute over a Republican pick to the National Labor Relations Board. Boarman has been serving as head of the Government Printing Office since a recess appointment by President Obama nearly one year ago.