Wednesday morning federal headlines - Dec. 28, 2011

Wednesday - 12/28/2011, 7:55am EST

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive host Tom Temin 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.

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection has taken delivery of a new drone aircraft. The Predator-B will be fourth to be flown out of CBP's National Air Security Operations Center in Sierra Vista, Ariz. The agency will use the plane to patrol the southwest border with Mexico. CBP operates a total of nine unmanned aircraft. Drone flights require special permission from the FAA. CBP officials say that in 12,000 hours of flights, drones have helped in the seizure of tens of thousands of pounds of illegal drugs. They've also aided in the arrest of 7,500 individuals. (CBP)

  • An era comes to an end for the Treasury Department. After midnight Saturday, no more paper U.S. Savings Bonds. The ornate bonds have been a regular feature in the savings plans of millions of Americans since 1935. But Treasury has been planning to go all-electronic for years. Paper savings bonds purchased through payroll deductions ended in December 2010. Now individual sales will take place only at treasurydirect.gov Treasury officials say the elimination of paper bonds will save $120 million over five years. (Treasury Department)

  • In 1979 it was the Shah of Iran. Today, it's the outgoing president of Yemen. The Obama administration is deciding whether to let the longtime president of Yemen visit the U.S. Ali Abdullah Saleh has requested entry to obtain medical treatment. The Yemeni strongman has been a U.S. ally. Now he's on the way out, having agreed to turn over power following a popular uprising. Administration officials worry that letting Saleh into the United States could antagonize groups coming to power in Yemen. The Carter administration faced the same quandary when the exiled Shah needed medical treatment. (Federal News Radio)

  • President Obama, on vacation in Hawaii, has nominated two people to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. One is a Democrat, one a Republican. The Democrat is Harvard University finance professor Jeremy Stein. He served the Obama administration earlier as an advisor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. The Republican is Jerome Powell, a visiting scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. He worked for President George H.W. Bush as undersecretary of finance at Treasury. (Federal News Radio)

  • It's déjà vu all over again. President Obama plans to ask Congress for authority to borrow another $1.2 trillion, the New York Times reports. That would raise the national debt to $16.4 trillion. No more increases would be needed until after the 2012 elections. The last raise in the debt ceiling resulted in a bitter fight on Capitol Hill. That might not happen this time. The borrowing would be in accordance with spending levels Republicans and Democrats agreed to under the Budget Control Act. The government has been borrowing 36 cents for every dollar it spends. Fiscal 2011 added $1.3 trillion to the debt. (New York Times)