Wednesday morning federal headlines – Oct. 31, 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 users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • President Barack Obama hasn’t forgotten about his plan to merge business-focused agencies. He told MSNBC he would pursue it after the election, if he wins. He wants to have a “one-stop shop” with a single Secretary of Business instead of multiple agencies doing similar things like helping companies get loans or export overseas. Obama said Congress is pushing back against the idea but not for ideological reasons. He said lawmakers wanted to retain their respective jurisdiction over the various parts of the government. Last winter, he pitched the idea of consolidating the Small Businesss Administration, the Commerce Department and four smaller economic agencies into one. (MSNBC)
  • Washington and Baltimore area federal agencies reopen this morning. Unscheduled leave and telework remain as options, according to the Office of Personnel Management. Office buildings were closed for two days when Hurricane Sandy rumbled up the East Coast. OPM said non-emergency employees must notify their supervisor if they plan to use unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework. Agency facilities locally suffered only minor damage, mostly downed trees and leaky roofs. Metro rail, MARC and VRE trains are operating on a normal weekday schedule. In New York City, subways are still shut down. In Manhattan, the U.S. Attorney’s Manhattan offices and the federal courthouse are closed today. (Federal News Radio)
  • Hurricane Sandy felled some trees on the National Mall, but The National Park Service said monuments and memorials appear to be just fine. A spokesperson said the World War II Memorial may have some minor flooding, which it’s built to withstand. She said the Mall’s flood-protection system can protect it from crests of 17 feet or higher. The Park Service is giving the Mall a much-anticipated makeover. It includes new walls to protect the monuments from flooding, better drainage and new storm sewer catch basins. (Federal News Radio)
  • A Mexican man has pleaded guilty in the killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Manual Osorio Arellanes could face life in prison. He is one of five men prosecutors believe were involved in the December 2010 shooting. The gang had sneaked into the United States in order to rob cash from marijuana smugglers. The incident brought to light Operation Fast and Furious, an attempt at gun-tracing run by the Justice Department. Federal agents lost track of 1,400 of the 2,000 rifles used in the operation. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Thrift Savings Plan begins to play catch-up today. It hasn’t processed any transactions since noon on Friday. Weather shut down the TSP along with U.S. Markets. But now that Wall Street plans to reopen today, the TSP expects to process all those transactions. It will do so by the end of the business day at today’s closing share prices. (TSP)
  • Thousands of federal employees are converging on recovery efforts in the aftermath of Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy. The work spans 10 states and the District of Columbia. New York City and New Jersey appear to have gotten the worst of the storm damage. Administrator Craig Fugate said FEMA pre-positioned more than 15 hundred generators along the East Coast. Health and Human Services moved medical assistance teams to affected areas. FCC and the Energy Department sent teams to consult with local authorities on restoring telecommunications and electricity. Fugate said FEMA has more than $3 billion in its relief fund. He said that was enough to get the agency through the emergency. (Federal News Radio)