Thursday morning federal headlines – Nov. 15, 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.

  • This month brings two new developments sure to revive the debate over whether feds are paid too much. The Office of Personnel Management expects the Federal Salary Council to recommend dozens of new locality pay areas. That means federal workers living in those regions would get paid more to compensate for the higher cost of living. President Barack Obama doesn’t have to accept the recommendations though. In fact, he has taken a tough line on locality pay. In 2011, he froze it at 2010 levels. At the same time, the Office of Personnel Management is releasing a report on how much time employees spend on union activities. (Federal News Radio)
  • Much of Washington is preoccupied by the unfolding intelligence scandal. Former CIA director David Petraeus confirmed he’ll testify Friday about the Benghazi, Libya, terror attacks that killed a U.S. ambassador. Petraeus’ biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell, was found to have classified documents in her home. She’s lost her security clearance. Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, says he’ll cooperate with a Pentagon investigation into his relationship with a Florida socialite. The two exchanged thousands of e-mails. FBI Director Robert Mueller met with lawmakers to explain the investigation into Petraeus. In his press conference, President Obama said he saw no evidence that national security has been compromised. (Federal News Radio)
  • Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg had a rough hearing before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. Democrats and Republicans criticized the agency for failing to prevent a meningitis outbreak that has killed 32 people. It’s been traced to injections produced by a drug compounding factory in Massachusetts. The Hill Newspaper reports, Hamburg told lawmakers, laws and regulations covering compounders are hard to interpret, and that Congress needed to clarify FDA’s role. Committee chairman Fred Upton called FDA’s lack of oversight inexcusable. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) told Hamburg to just give yes or no answers. (The Hill)
  • President Barack Obama took a measured tone in his first major press conference since winning re-election. He said he wanted to work with Republicans on a solution to the fiscal cliff. But he said raising taxes on the wealthy should be part of the fix, something the GOP continues to oppose. Obama also took leading Republican senators to task for threatening to derail his rumored top pick to succeed retiring Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) said they would block the nomination of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for comments she made following the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi. Obama said the senators should go after him instead and that he would nominate the best candidate. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Internal Revenue Service is warning Congress: the fiscal-cliff limbo is messing up preparations for tax filing season. Acting Commissioner Steven Miller sent a letter to the leaders of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees. In it, he said the filing season could be disrupted substantially because of uncertainty over the Alternative Minimum Tax and expiring tax breaks. Miller said the IRS normally starts preparing for the filing season the summer before. That’s when it trains customer-service employees, modifies tax forms and reprograms its technology to reflect changes in tax laws. The Wall Street Journal published Miller’s letter. (The Wall Street Journal)