Wednesday morning federal headlines – Feb. 13, 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.

  • Immigration reform gets its first tryout on Capitol Hill today. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from the Homeland Security secretary and an illegal immigrant. A bipartisan group of senators is working on a bill to eventually let an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants become citizens. The Wall Street Journal reports, another Senate bill called the Startup Act 3.0 also has bipartisan backing. It would grant visas to 75,000 foreign entrepreneurs and 50,000 foreign graduates of U.S. universities with technical degrees. (Federal News Radio/Wall Street Journal)
  • President Obama spoke for an hour about the budget, sequestration, immigration reform, gun control and a host of other matters. In his fifth State of the Union address, Obama ruled out shifting cuts from defense to civilian programs. He echoed former President Bill Clinton in calling for a government that’s smarter, not bigger. Among the specifics, the president proposed new programs at Defense and Energy to back so-called manufacturing hubs. And he urged Congress to pass a comprehensive cybersecurity bill. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Federal Housing Administration chief will try to convince a House panel today that the agency does not need a bailout. In prepared written remarks, Commissioner Carol Galante repeats Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan’s pledge to take every action appropriate to protect taxpayers, while continuing to ensure the FHA helps stabilize the housing market. Officials told Reuters the agency will take “aggressive measures” like raising the fees it charges borrowers and tightening credit standards for its loans. In November, HUD released a report showing the FHA was on the verge of needing a bailout for the first time in its nearly 80-year history. (Reuters)
  • Chuck Hagel could become Defense secretary by this weekend. But it may not come without more fights. The Senate Armed Services Committee approved his nomination on a party-line vote of 14 to 11. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he’d press ahead in the full chamber despite some GOP members’ threats to stall the vote. Meanwhile, the president’s pick for Treasury secretary gets his day in the hot seat. Jack Lew testifies before the Senate Finance Committee at 10 a.m. Sources told the National Journal the long-time Washington insider is nothing if not prepared. But lawmakers will test his understanding of Treasury’s complicated international operations. (Federal News Radio/National Journal)
  • How charitable are your colleagues? If you work at the Defense Department chances are they’re pretty generous. The Pentagon is bragging about a record number of Combined-Federal-Campaign contributions for the ninth year in a row. It says nearly 30,000 employees gave more than $15 million this year. That beats all other agencies. Pentagon officials celebrated by delivering a big cardboard check to the CFC of the National Capital Area. The money goes to about four thousand charities, including those helping victims of Superstorm Sandy. (Defense)