Tuesday morning federal headlines – Oct. 16, 2012

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.

  • Retired feds will learn later today how much of a raise they’ll get in their pensions come January. The Labor Department is releasing the Consumer Price Index, which shows the rate of inflation for September. That’s the figure the new Cost-of-Living-Adjustment will be based upon. Federal retirees got a so-called COLA of 3.6 percent last year, the first increase since 2008. Federal News Radio Senior Correspondent Mike Causey said they won’t be so lucky today. He said it’s bound to be a “bitter diet cola.” The Congressional Budget Office has predicted a 1.3 percent boost. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Justice Department is asking a federal court to throw out a Republican lawsuit over documents concerning Operation Fast and Furious. It said the Constitution prohibits the courts from resolving such disputes between the executive and legislative branches. If the lawsuit goes forward, the Justice Department said it could open the door for more lawsuits whenever Congress doesn’t get the papers it seeks. In this case, the Justice Department has withheld some documents requested by Republican leaders of the House Oversight Committee. They concern the botched gun-tracking program along the Mexican border. President Barack Obama has invoked executive privilege to protect Attorney General Eric Holder in this dispute. The House has found Holder in contempt for not turning over the papers. (Federal News Radio)
  • Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is accepting responsibility for the fatal attack on the U.S. compound in Libya. She said requests for embassy and consulate security go to the State Department not the White House. That means the buck stops with her. Clinton made the remarks in an interview with CNN during a visit to Peru. She has asked an advisory board to investigate the conditions that led to the deaths of four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador. The board is expected to release its findings next month. Meanwhile, Republicans have criticized State Department officials for calling the assault “unprecedented.” It took place on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. (CNN)
  • The United States, once again, is nearing its borrowing limit. Republican senators want to know how the Treasury Department will avoid default if it reaches the federal debt limit. That could happen sometime toward the end of this year. The Treasury Department could put off default for a few more months by taking emergency measures. Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) have asked Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner for details. They said planning ahead could avoid a repeat of what happened last year. That’s when a similar debate nearly shut down the federal government, and the government’s credit rating was downgraded for the first time in history. It also led to the Budget Control Act, which put the wheels of sequestration and automatic budget cuts in motion. (Senate)
  • The Small Business Administration has recognized the General Services Administration for its leadership. GSA earned the honor for awarding nearly one-fifth of its contracts to small and disadvantaged businesses in fiscal 2011. It has also surpassed the congressionally mandated goal for awarding contracts to Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned businesses. More than $1.4 billion in GSA contracts went to small businesses last year. (GSA)
  • Tobacco companies and the Justice Departmentare sparring over corrective statements the companies say are “forced public confessions.” In a 2006 racketeering case, a federal judge ordered tobacco companies to release statements such as “For decades, we denied that we controlled the level of nicotine delivered in cigarettes. Here’s the truth. Cigarettes are a finely tuned nicotine delivery device designed to addict people.” Tobacco companies object to the words “finely tuned.” The Justice Department is asking a federal judge to enforce the sentence. (Federal News Radio)