Wednesday Afternoon Federal Newscast – May 5

The Afternoon Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Daily Debrief hosts Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris discuss throughout their show each day. The Newscast is designed to give users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • President Barack Obama has signed a bill that aims to keep severely wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in their homes by providing billions of dollars in support to family members who care for them. At a bill signing event at the White House Wednesday, Obama said the government’s responsibility to take care of veterans and their families is a “moral obligation.” The bill instructs the Veterans Affairs Department to offer post-delivery care to female veterans’ newborns and create a childcare pilot program. And, it includes expanded funding for programs assisting homeless and rural veterans. The price tag over five years is an estimated $3.7 billion.
  • Two top Pentagon officials say things are looking up for U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan, even though the levels of violence have risen. Michele Flournoy tells Congress she’s “cautiously optimistic” about the current campaign to repel the Taliban. That’s one of the sunniest recent assessments in a war that has been stalemated. Flournoy is the top civilian policy chief at the Pentagon. A top general agrees. Gen. John Paxton, of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says that during the recent military campaign in Helmand province, tips from locals about the location of roadside bombs were way up.
  • The Coast Guard is preparing for a controlled burn of some of the oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico now that weather conditions are more favorable. Spokesman Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Blackwell at an oil command center in Robert, La., said Wednesday that boats will skim oil from the surface of the sea and burn it. Controlled burns are part of the toolbox of strategies officials are using to rid the Gulf of the spilled oil. Burning the oil removes it from the open water and protects the shoreline and wildlife.
  • More than 200 years after the first Marines fought in the Revolutionary War, the Marine Corps would finally get its name on the door under legislation the House has approved. The House by voice vote Tuesday agreed to rename the Department of the Navy as the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps. The measure’s sponsor, North Carolina Republican Walter Jones, says his effort is merely recognizing the Marine Corps as part of the fighting team that includes the Navy.
  • The no-fly list failed to keep the Times Square suspect off the plane. Faisal Shahzad boarded a jetliner bound for the United Arab Emirates Monday night before federal authorities pulled him back. Although under surveillance since midafternoon, he had managed to elude investigators and head to the airport. By the time Customs and Border Protection officials spotted Shahzad’s name on the passenger list and recognized him as the bombing suspect they were looking for, he was in his seat and the plane was preparing to leave the gate. They knew to look for him because of updates to the no-fly list made earlier in the day. At the last minute, the pilot was notified, the jetliner’s door was opened and Shahzad was taken into custody.
  • Federal officials concerned about witness intimidation are setting up a second team to investigate the blast that killed 29 workers at a West Virginia coal mine. The Mine Safety and Health Administration says the special team of investigators will work anonymously with miners, victims’ families and others who fear retaliation for speaking freely. The agency says it wants to give family members and others the change to share information they might not feel comfortable passing along. The new team will respond to an anonymous tip line set up to take calls about the investigation into the April 5 explosion.