Monday federal headlines - August 5, 2013

Monday - 8/5/2013, 10:30am 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.

  • You might have to say goodbye to Saturday mail drops but hello to beer and wine deliveries. Both would be possible under a Senate bill to help the Postal Service cut costs. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper and Ranking Member Tom Coburn introduced the package. If it becomes a law, the Postal Service would have one more year to deliberate ending Saturday mail delivery. It would not be able to close mail processing plants for another two years. But it could save money from changes in how pensions and retirees health care costs are calculated. (Federal News Radio)
  • For those of you who ride the MARC to work, double-check train schedules today. The Maryland Transit Administration has tweaked service on the Penn Line. It is calling the changes 'minor.' Most of them affect the ride home after work. See the new timetable. (Maryland Transit Administration)
  • Before leaving Washington, Senators told the National Security Agency it had some math to do — calculate how many phone records it tracks. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a measure to force the NSA to report to Congress on the numbers. Lawmakers want to know how many records the NSA collects and reviews and how much all of that costs. The agency also would list the potential terrorist attacks prevented because of intelligence gathered through the program. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says he wants a more complete disclosure than what the NSA has given lawmakers thus far. (Associated Press)
  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says Republicans may be willing to end the sequester if Democrats agree to cuts in entitlement programs. Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Cantor said sequestration was a "default mechanism" and "not the best solution." He said the fall could present an opportunity to compromise and avoid a government shutdown. Congress is in recess for the rest of the month. (Fox News)
  • The American Federation of Government Employees is asking that military personnel are not exempt from 2014 sequestration cuts, unless that means the Defense Department won't use the military for work that was last done by civilian employees. AFGE President J. David Cox makes his case in a letter to President Obama. Cox says more civilian employees will be furloughed and possibly laid-off if DoD uses its own military personnel in their place.(American Federation of Government Employees)
  • The State Department is keeping 19 diplomatic posts in the Muslim world closed through next Saturday. A spokeswoman says it's out of an abundance of caution and not an indication of a new threat. The facilities still are providing emergency help to American citizens. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo says its switchboard remains manned 24-7. The White House first ordered the posts closed Friday after receiving intelligence that al-Qaida or its allies might attack Americans in those countries. (U.S. Embassy in Cairo)
  • A former State Department contract specialist has pleaded guilty to funneling millions of dollars to a company she set up with her husband. Kathleen McGrade worked in the State Department office that awards contracts for construction on U.S. embassies. She never told anyone that she had opened a construction company with her husband. She negotiated nearly $53 million in contracts with the company, Sterling Royale Group. A news article in 2011 exposed the fraud. It revealed McGrade and her husband had bought houses, a yacht and other luxury items on the State Department's dime. McGrade and her husband, Brian Collingsworth, have agreed to forfeit the items. They face up to 30 years in prison each. (Justice Department)
  • Three White House staffers had their personal email accounts hacked, NextGov reports. The White House employees are in charge of keeping administration social media accounts. They received bogus links to what looked like legitimate news articles. Clicking on the links brings users to a page that extracts personal log-in information. (NextGov)
  • Registration is open at Cyber Security Division Transition to Practice Technology Demonstration in San Jose, Calif. later this month. Homeland Security Department cyber experts are showing off new cyber security technologies developed at national Energy Department labs. The DHS Science and Technology Directorate Cyber Security Division Transition to Practice Program is sponsoring the event. It's open to federal cyber employees and private industry professionals. The conference is on Aug. 22. (Homeland Security Department)
  • A top State Department official takes the stand today in the sentencing hearing of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning. Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy will testify about the extent of the harm Manning did to U.S. foreign relations when he leaked classified cables to the website WikiLeaks. Kennedy led an investigation into the incident. Manning faces up to 136 years in prison. He says he leaked the documents to expose wrongdoing by the military and U.S. Diplomats.(Associated Press)
  • Air Force Pilots of the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones will get training from CAE, Defense One reports. It's part of a $100 million contract over five years. Defense One says CAE first won its Defense contract back in 1998. It was knocked out of the running in 2008 when the Air Force limited competition to small businesses. (Defense One)