Thursday Morning Federal Newscast - September 30th

Thursday - 9/30/2010, 8:11am 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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Congress passes a continuing resolution to keep agencies running after today. The Senate approved the temporary spending bill 69 to 30 yesterday. The House cleared it several hours later, 228 to 194. The new federal fiscal year begins at midnight. Now the bill goes to the president for signature. Both chambers of Congress have adjourned, and they don't return until mid-November, after the elections.

  • DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has introduced a bill to give federal employees access to cheaper disability insurance. Norton says the measure is necessary because many feds are buying individual insurance plans that often have higher premiums. She says her bill would leverage the purchasing power of the government. But it wouldn't cost the government anything. Under her plan, insurers wouldn't be able to deny coverage because of preexisting conditions.

  • The Senate voted to pass the compromise version of a teleworking bill that expands telework access across the government. The finalized bill is still pending approval in the House before it can be signed by President Obama, and will now be on hold until the lame-duck session of the House reconvenes in December. The Senate passed its original version of the bill in May, and the House followed suit in July. The compromise bill makes all federal employees eligible for telework, as opposed to the current procedure in which employees must prove a need. It also requires that agencies incorporate telework into their continuity of operations plans (COOP).

  • Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu says she will not lift her hold on the nomination of Jacob Lew to be the next OMB director. Landrieu says she placed the hold because of the administration's temporary ban on offshore drilling for oil and gas. She says the moratorium is putting the Gulf Coast economy at risk. The pause in drilling was ordered after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.

  • Reform of the Federal Protective Service moved a step closer when the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee approved an overhaul bill. The Service, part of the Homeland Security Department, has the responsibility for protecting federal buildings. It's been hit by a series of stinging Government Accountability Office reports. In one instance, investigators were able to bring bomb making materials into a secure building. GovExec reports, the bill would establish training standards for 15,000 contacted guards, while giving the agency the authority to hire 500 more staff.

  • More bad news on federal financial systems. A Government Accountability Office investigator tells Senators, the Pentagon has run up $6.9 billion in cost overruns on a department-wide financial system. NextGov reports, after spending $5.8 billion on nine subsystems, most of them are at least two years late. At stake is the ability for the armed services to produce clean financial audits. The GAO's Asif Khan tells the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee the system is supposed to replace 500 legacy systems that are expensive to operate. The Pentagon is hoping for audits by 2017.

  • The cash-strapped Postal Service has just hours to fund its retiree health program with $5.5 billion, reports GovExec. Congress has adjourned without giving the agency the $4 billion bailout it had hoped for. Federal law requires USPS to prefund the retiree health fund. But the Postal Service has been struggling with money, losing almost $8 billion this year. The health fund payment is due before the new fiscal year starts at midnight.

  • This might help a little. The Postal Regulatory Commission is expected today to increase the cost of a stamp by 2 cents - to 46 cents. The Postal Service lost $3.8 billion last year and is on track to lose $7 billion this year and next. The last time postal rates went up was in July.

  • The House approved a three-year, $58 billion blueprint for NASA, approving a bill similar to one the Senate passed last month. It backs President Obama's goal of using commercial carriers to take astronauts into near earth orbit. And it extends the life of the space shuttle program for a year. It dismantles the Constellation program, a heavy lift rocket former President Bush wanted to return astronauts to the moon. But it extends the life of the International Space Station from 2015 to 2020. The bill passed by the House on a 304-118, and the president is expected to sign it.