Thursday morning federal headlines - March 21, 2013

Thursday - 3/21/2013, 9:31am EDT

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Federal Drive hosts Tom Temin and Emily Kopp 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.

  • Federal employees who fail to pay their taxes could lose their jobs under bill making its way through the House. The Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed the measure along with a dozen other bills focusing on agency management and transparency. Support for the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act broke along party lines, with some Democrats arguing that losing your job makes it harder to pay back taxes. Bills to reform federal IT security and acquisition and to bolster the Government Accountability Office's powers to investigate agencies had bipartisan support. (Federal News Radio)

  • The Senate has approved a bill to keep the government funded through the end of the fiscal year. The House is expected to vote on it today. If it passes, it will avert a shutdown next week. That's the good news. The bad news for feds is it voids the small pay raise you were supposed to get this month. Your pay would be frozen at least until October. And it doesn't undo the $85 billion in spending cuts. Rather it gives agencies more flexibility to trim some programs and preserve others. It blocks the Agriculture Department from furloughing meat inspectors. It does not spare air traffic facilities or White House public tours. (Federal News Radio)

  • The White House is working on a major policy shift for the program that aims drone aircraft at terrorists. The Wall Street Journal reports, under a new draft directive, control of the drones would move out of the CIA and into the Defense Department. The move will attract both support and criticism. But the CIA has come under fire from lawmakers in both parties for the way it handles drones. As a Defense program, the anti-terror drones would be subject to international laws of war. And their use would require the permission of the countries where they fly. (The Wall Street Journal)

  • An American icon is rising up from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Pieces from two rocket engines used for an Apollo mission to the moon were pulled up from 3 miles below sea level. NASA says one of the engines will stay in the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. The recovery effort was privately funded by the CEO of Amazon.com. (Federal News Radio)

  • A new regime for how the government spends $70 billion on IT is a step closer to becoming law. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act Wednesday. It's one of 12 information and information security bills that passed through the committee. Updates to the Federal Information Security Management Amendments Act are also ready for debate on the House floor. (Federal News Radio)

  • If you think travel money is tight now, just wait. A House committee has cleared a bill that sharply caps agency travel and conference spending. The Government Spending Accountability Act would put a ceiling of $500,000 for conferences, unless the agency gets a waiver. And it sets into law travel spending levels 30 percent lower than those of 2010. Federal Times reports, Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wants more transparency in federal travel expenditures. (Federal Times)

  • A union boss will testify in the House today to ask for a budget increase for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Gabrielle Martin heads the National Council of EEOC Locals. They want the EEOC's 2014 budget to return to 2011 levels. A 2012 budget cut, combined with an increase in caseload and hiring freeze, have brought the commission to the breaking point, Martin says. And since most of the small agency's budget goes to payroll and rent, the required sequestration cuts hurt it more than other agencies. (National Council of EEOC Locals)