Friday morning federal headlines – Jan. 4, 2013

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.

  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to return to work next week. Clinton has been sidelined for nearly a month by a string of medical problems. Late last year, she caught a stomach virus, which led to dehydration. She fainted, fell, bumped her head and got a blood clot as a result of the concussion. But now, her spokeswoman said Clinton is upbeat. She checked out of a New York hospital yesterday. While recuperating at home, she reviewed paperwork and phoned into a meeting of the foreign policy advisory board. She won’t be on the job long, though. Secretary Clinton plans to retire when President Obama begins his second term. (Federal News Radio)
  • Top lawmakers from both parties pledged their commitment to fixing the worsening financial problems at the Postal Service. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) is the new chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and Rep. Darryl Issa (R-Calif.) chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform committee. In a joint statement, they promised to work together. They acknowledged that last year each chamber passed laws with totally different approaches to stop the hemorrhaging. Carper and Issa said they’ve made progress in narrowing their differences. The Postal Service reports, it’s losing $25 million a day. (Federal News Radio)
  • The House is expected to approve today more money for FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA said it needs nearly $10 billion to pay claims from Superstorm Sandy. Otherwise, the program will run out of funds next week. The agency says it has received about 140,000 Sandy-related claims. Many flood victims have received partial payments. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) scheduled the vote after intense criticism from Northeast Republicans. They accused him of stalling on a larger $60 billion Sandy relief package. Boehner has scheduled a vote on the rest of the aid package in two weeks. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Treasury Department, under pressure from local members of Congress, has backed off a plan to relocate 450 employees in Prince George’s County, Md.. The employees originally had until January 2015 to relocate or lose their jobs. But Treasury officials agreed to push it back to 2019. Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) announced the delay along with Reps. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) and John Sarbanes (D-Md.) The affected employees work for the Financial Management Service in Hyattsville. Treasury wants to consolidate FMS operations to Parkersburg, W.Va. (Federal News Radio)
  • Rumors are flying about Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner calling it quits. Bloomberg News and Politico report: Geithner will leave the department by the end of the month. That means Geithner could be out before a new deal is reached with Congress on the federal borrowing limit. Treasury is saying only that Geithner will stick around until after President Barack Obama’s inauguration, and it says it will keep quiet about Geithner’s plans until the president nominates a successor. Anonymous sources say Obama is likely to choose his Chief of Staff Jack Lew. Lew used to be the head of the Office of Management and Budget. He also worked at Citigroup for a few years. (Bloomberg News/Politico)
  • The Agriculture Department has shut down a small program with a big food-safety mission. Food Safety News reports the Microbiological Data Program officially ended Monday. Its scientists have been reassigned. The program conducted nearly 80 percent of all federal testing on fruits and vegetables, checking for dangerous bacteria like salmonella. But neither the department nor political leaders wanted to fund it. USDA said the Food and Drug Administration should have the responsibility instead. (Food Safety News)