Monday Morning Federal Newscast - September 20th

Monday - 9/20/2010, 9:00am EDT

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 users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Senate Republicans are lining up behind a measure to cut 2011 spending plans by $13 billion under the level currently authorized. Discretionary spending levels are capped at by the Senate at more than $1.12 trillion, and slightly less in the House. Congress Daily reports Democrats will need at least one Republican to overcome a filibuster of what is expected to be a large omnibus spending package. GOP senators were united in voting against the 2011 Defense appropriations bill. It passed a committee vote last week 18-12.

  • Colorado Republican Congressman Mike Coffman introduces a bill that would require two weeks of furlough for civilian feds in 2011. The measure would make two weeks of unpaid, non-consecutive furlough days mandatory. It would also reduce appropriations for salaries and expenses in legislative branch offices. And members of Congress would take a 10-percent pay cut, too. The bill does contain exceptions for reasons related to national security or public health and safety. Coffman says his bill would save $5.5 billion. It's not a first, though. Other lawmakers have introduced furlough bills in years past, and Congress has said no.

  • Waiting for those Smart Trip card prices to drop? Keep waiting. Metro's finance committee is considering lowering the price from $5 to $2.50. They just can't figure out how to move forward with that proposal. The Washington Examiner reports transit officials originally planned to reduce the price at the end of August. But they were concerned that the entry and exit rules for Metro would leave them with a loss of a million dollars every month in revenue.

  • Jacob Lew, the president's nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget, promises help for the Postal Service if he's confirmed. Federal Times reports, Lew will push the Office of Personnel Management to deal with Postal's overpayment of its pension obligations. Postal has blamed a large portion of its fiscal woes on the fact that it has overfunded its pension system by $75 billion. But OPM keeps saying it requires an act of Congress to lower the annual payments. Lew would end the logjam, he tells Senators in a written statement.

  • First the FEHBP, now CHAMP would like to follow. The children of some disabled veterans could get more time to hang onto their health coverage under the Department of Veterans Affairs. Hawaii Senator Daniel Akaka has introduced a measure that would expand eligibility requirements for VA's Civilian Health and Medical Program. The bill would let those dependents stay in the program until age 26. Right now, coverage expires when they turn 18, or 23 if they are full-time students. The CHAMP-VA program is available to spouses and children of permanently and totally disabled veterans who have service-connected disabilities. It's also open to the survivors of vets who die from those disabilities. Akaka says his bill is designed to bring the CHAMP-VA program into lockstep with benefits required in other plans under healthcare reform. That includes raising the age for eligibility.

  • Pentagon cost-cutting may hit U.S. Marines right in the lunchbox. In 2001 Sodexo, a French owned food-service conglomerate, was awarded $881 million to provide food at 55 Marine Corps chow halls in the United States. Two years later, Marines began rotating overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan, so there were tens of thousands fewer mouths to feed in the United States than the contract had anticipated, according to the Service Employees International Union. Despite that, the contract has gone as much as $500 million over budget. Now the contracts are up for renewal.

  • New regulations are being unveiled today, designed to crack down on Medicare and Medicaid fraud. USA Today reports the new rules would give federal health officials the powers they need to identify and stop fraud early, possibly reducing the $55 billion in improper payments made each year in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The proposed rules are part of health care reform, which would expand coverage to millions of Americans, in part, by saving money on waste and fraud in public and private health care systems. The proposed rules will be published Thursday. You have 60 days for comments. The final rules are expected to be in place by the end of this year.