Wednesday morning federal headlines – Jan. 2, 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.

  • Congress punted budget cuts for federal agencies when it passed a tax hike over the weekend. Sequestration would have cut $109 billion in fiscal 2013 starting today. Instead, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 orders $12 billion in cuts. But lawmakers will have to come back in 60 days to deal with sequestration again. The weekend bill raises the tax rates on individuals earning more than $400,000 and $450,000 for couples. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House is getting flack for how it released its plan for new business regulations. As we reported earlier, the Current Regulatory Plan came out Christmas Eve, about nine months late. Now Rep. Darryl Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight committee, has slammed the Obama administration. Issa says it broke the law by withholding the document due out last April. He says the late release breaks the president’s transparency promise. But Issa didn’t say whether his committee would hold hearings on the delay. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Intelligence Community will have deeply reduced budgets for 2013. But it won’t have to cut staff. The House and Senate approved a $72 billion intelligence bill, down from $80 billion in 2012. The new bill is slightly more than the White House had requested. Lawmakers added in money for counterterrorism work against al-Qaida and for counterintelligence against foreign governments trying to spy on the United States. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the bill holds the line on personnel and even adds a few select positions. The final bill left out restrictions on who can brief reporters on intelligence operations. (Federal News Radio)
  • The House voted to freeze federal salaries for all of 2013. The Senate has yet to take up the matter. The freeze bill was introduced by Rep.Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) The tax bill Congress approved over the weekend did not include a federal pay freeze, and the President promised to lift the freeze on March 27, halfway through the fiscal year. That’s when the continuing budget resolution expires. (Federal News Radio)
  • Federal managers stung by last year’s travel and conference revelations might be wondering whether to stay in Motel 6 or the Hyatt the next time they hit the road. Now the General Services Administration is setting up a panel to help with that decision. It has opened nominations for members of the new Government-wide Travel Advisory Committee. GSA said the panel is needed to oversee existing government travel policies and procedures to make sure they’re transparent and accountable. GTAC will study travel industry trends and get advice from travel experts. Then it will make recommendations on how agencies can make travel more efficient.
  • While most Americans are breathing a sigh of relief today, one federal union leader is calling the fiscal cliff deal a “bad deal” for feds. William Dougan of the National Federation for Federal Employees called sequestration “the most important federal workforce issue of our generation” and criticized lawmakers for extending the deadline. He also said Congress had failed to address the country’s borrowing limit, which leads to uncertainty in the federal workforce. He said federal workers had become a pawn in political games. (Federal News Radio)