Tuesday morning federal headlines – August 2

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.

  • A debt-ceiling deal struck between lawmakers and President Obama has passed the House and now heads to the Senate for a vote today. The deal immediately raises the federal government’s borrowing limit by $400 billion. The president can raise it another 500 billion in the fall. It also promises two potentially steep rounds of curtailed future spending growth at federal agencies. The plan is expected to pass the Senate today. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Obama will order a review of defense missions and requirements as a prelude to reducing planned DoD spending over the next 10 years. Under the debt-ceiling compromise making its way though Congress, money for defense, homeland security, veterans, foreign aid and intelligence would be cut from $687 billion this year to $683 billion in 2012. Defense would be a share of that $4 billion reduction. Over the next ten years, DOD is facing a reduction in planned spending of up to $550 billion. (Federal News Radio)
  • Senate Democrats will offer a plan to end the semi-shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration, in which they’ll agree to go along with a Republican plan for deep cuts in subsidies to rural air service. Meanwhile, the partial shutdown of the FAA has, so far, cost the government $250 million in airline ticket taxes the agency is unable to collect. Some 4,000 employees remain furloughed. (Federal News Radio)
  • U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke formally resigned his post and was sworn in by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the next U.S. Ambassador to China. Locke has served as Commerce chief since March 2009. Acting Deputy Secretary of the Commerce Department Rebecca Blank will take over as acting Commerce Secretary. (Commerce Department)
  • The National Security Agency has a challenge for hackers who think they’re hot stuff: prove it by working on the “hardest problems on Earth.” Reuters reports that officials with DOD, DHS, NASA and NSA are heading to Las Vegas this week for Defcon, an annual hacker convention that is expected to draw 10,000 attendees. NSA said it’s hiring about 1,500 people this fiscal year and another 1,500 next year, most of them cyber experts. (Reuters)
  • The increasing use of drones in the military is raising eyebrows in some quarters. The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles is increasing and could, over the next 40 years, largely replace piloted aircraft, The Economist reports. But critics have said the legal and ethical issues surrounding the use of drones have been neglected. For example, if a drone is able to act autonomously, who will be responsible if it makes a mistake? (The Economist)
  • NASA’s upcoming mission to Jupiter can’t get much greener, the Associated Press reports. The robotic explorer, Juno, will be equipped with a solar-powered, windmill-shaped spacecraft and is set to become the most distant probe ever powered by the sun. The explorer will be launched Friday morning aboard an unmanned Atlas V rocket – barely two weeks after NASA’s final space shuttle flight. It’s the first of three high-profile astronomy missions coming up for NASA in the next four months. (AP)
  • After landing a nearly $4 billion contract last fall, geospatial-satellite imagery firm GeoEye has seen a dip in its profits. The firm reported higher revenue, according to the Washington Business Journal, but also higher expenses, which has pulled profits downward. If all options over 10 years are exercised, GeoEye’s contract with the National Geospatial-Intellegence Agency is worth up to $3.8 billion. The company’s satellite imagery is used by the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies. (Washington Business Journal)
  • LightSquared, the company that wants to build a national wireless broadband network, is facing new opposition, NextGov reports. Lockheed Martin, OnStar and the European Commission have all weighed in against the plan that, if approved by the Federal Communications Commission, would allow LightSquared to operate at near the same frequency used by the Global Positioning System. However, tests have shown that LightSquared can jam GPS signals, thereby interfering with GPS-based services. (NextGov)

    As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 draws near, the Department of Homeland Security is thinking about an earlier terrorist attack. DHS has published a proposed rule to regulate the sale and transfer of ammonium nitrate, which was used in 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City. Under the proposed rule, anyone purchasing, selling or transferring more than 25 lbs. of the material would have to register with DHS. The agency would also check names against the terrorist database. (Federal News Radio)