Monday morning federal headlines – Jan. 28, 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.

  • China state media reported Sunday that the country carried out a successful test flight of a new military transport plane. People’s Daily Online reports, the aircraft is China’s biggest-ever army transport. The flight took place on Saturday in the northwest part of the country. The China-developed Y-20 will help the country’s forces become more strategic by giving them strategic airlift range, the People’s Daily says. The plane looks like an American C-17 with high wings and a T-tail. It is powered by four Russian-made engines. The Y-20 can carry 66 tons, compared to 85 tons for the C-17. (People’s Daily)
  • The National Archives is celebrating a milestone in its effort to publish millions of old, formerly classified records. Its National Declassification Center says it finally has sorted out every single leaf in its 90-million-page backlog. Not all of them have been read top to bottom, but at least they’re in the right queue. The center’s director says staff have worked overtime, cracking open dusty boxes and deciphering tons of nearly illegible notes. Their work is far from done. They still have to go through about 100 million pages looking for information on nuclear weapons. (National Archives)
  • A three-judge appeals court has dealt a setback to the way presidents make recess appointments. The ruling could invalidate hundreds of decisions by the National Labor Relations Board. And it might force the departure of Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled several of President Barack Obama’s appointments unconstitutional in a suit brought by business groups. The court says recess appointments can only take place in between yearly sessions of Congress. Obama made the Cordray and NLRB appointments during a July 4 holiday. A White House spokesman says the administration disagrees. (Associated Press)
  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, says budget sequestration is now likely to occur March 1. He says that’s because Republicans will oppose further tax increases. Ryan tells a Sunday television talk show, Democrats have opposed GOP efforts to replace the across-the-board cuts with other budget reductions. Ryan was Mitt Romney’s running mate in the most recent presidential election. Congress passed tax increases on high-income earners shortly after the new year as part of a deal to push sequestration off for two months. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Office of Personnel Management says federal employees should stay off the roads until 10 a.m. That means you can sleep in a bit longer before heading to work. You can also take unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework. Just check with your supervisor. Emergency employees should come in to the office, but it won’t open until 10. Federal offices open to the public at noon. There’s a winter weather advisory until 10 a.m. The National Weather Service says the freezing rain will turn to rain later today nd there should be little to no accumulation. (Federal News Radio)
  • The FAA’s deputy chief information officer will retire from federal service on Friday. Steve Cooper has been a familiar face on the federal IT scene on and off since the 9/11 attacks. The former Corning Glass executive came to Washington as a special advisor to President George W. Bush. He then became the first CIO of the new Homeland Security Department. Cooper left to become CIO of the Red Cross, and also worked for a consulting company before returning to federal service. During his tenure at the FAA, Cooper promoted mobile computing with tablets and virtual desktops. Cooper tells Federal News Radio, he plans to return to consulting and would also like to teach. (Federal News Radio)
  • An undeterred senator is trying again to get the Veterans Affairs Department to provide costly fertility treatments. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) has reintroduced her bill after House GOP members raised concerns over funding. The bill would require the VA to pay for in vitro fertilization. Murray says it would cover about 2,000 young, post 9-11 vets whose reproductive problems were caused by war injuries, and it would cost about $570 million over five years. She now proposes paying for it through fees on VA contractors. (Sen. Patty Murray)
  • A bipartisan group of senators will unveil their plan for overhauling the nation’s immigration system later today. They’d carve a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, while bolstering the border and improving the tracking of people here on visas. They would also make it easier for foreign students at American universities who specialize in science, math, engineering and technology to get green cards. They would call on the Department of Homeland Security to improve the employment verification system too. The bill would mean big changes at the department, but the senators are leaving the details to further negotiations. (Federal News Radio)