Monday Morning Federal Newscast – January 31st

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 users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • The White House taps two trusted staff members to develop a plan for reorganizing the government. Chief Performance Officer Jeff Zients, and presidential assistant Lisa Brown will take on the project. President Obama promised the overhaul of federal agencies in his State of the Union address. If implemented, it would be the first major re-do in 50 years. Zients and Brown both worked on the Obama-Biden transition team. They’ll begin their efforts by looking at the federal trade and export apparatus.
  • President Barack Obama’s new chief of staff is challenging congressional Republicans to spell out how they propose to cut $55 billion from the federal budget. On the CBS program “Face the Nation,” William Daley said the public and the president want to know where those cuts would come from. He says Obama’s plan to freeze domestic spending over the next 10 years would lead to a substantial reduction in spending.
  • The phrase “government shutdown” popped up again over the weekend. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell answered questions from Meet the Press host David Gregory yesterday about whether Senate Republicans will allow a shutdown. The National Journal reports McConnell declined repeatedly to say whether Republicans were willing to allow the fiscal showdowns expected in Washington over the next few months – over stopgap budget measures and the borrowing limit – to force a federal shutdown.
  • Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole has moved to shut down a program that allows airports to replace government screeners with private ones. CNN reports Pistole has decided not to expand the program beyond its current 16 airports. He says he just doesn’t see an advantage to it. The Screening Partnership Program uses private contractors who wear TSA-like uniforms and meet agency standards. Among the airports that have “opted out” of government screening are San Francisco and Kansas City.
  • The State Department is using television, radio and social media to keep Americans in Egypt informed about the situation there. A spokesman acknowledges the limited availability of online service. State is also making charter flights available for Americans without other means to leave. Those flights will take people to Europe, but travelers will need to make their own plans after that. And they’ll have to reimburse the State Department. Initial flights will head to Athens, Istanbul and Nicosia, Cyprus.
  • The General Services Administration is leasing more space for Veterans Affairs and for the National Capital Planning Commission. City Biz List reports the leases are for ten years, and more than 82,000 square feet. Nearly 30,000 square feet on Ninth Street in Northwest will be the headquarters for the Planning Commission. They’re expected to move in by the end of this year. Veterans Affairs gets the other 50,000 square feet of general office space at K Street in Northeast.
  • Republican lawmakers are renewing the battle to establish a national nuclear waste dump in Nevada. Last year, the Obama administration withdrew the government’s application for the Yucca Mountain facility. The Wall Street Journal reports, the Congressional efforts are joined by two lawsuits. South Carolina and Washington state are ready to go to court to reverse that decision. Washington Representative Doc Hastings now chairs the House Natural Resources Committee. He questions the administration’s authority to abandon Yucca Mountain.

More news links

Charter flights to carry thousands of Americans out of Egypt (CNN)


Stimulus funds help wire rural homes for Internet


Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

** Open government and WikiLeaks. The open government community is very concerned the leaks are undermining open government and transparency. We’ll talk to one of the key open government advocates.

** And those improper TSP payments last month – what’s the TSP board doing to prevent it from happening again? We’ll find out.

Join Chris from 3 to 7 pm on 1500 AM or on your computer.