Friday morning federal headlines – March 8, 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.

  • Lawmakers are putting a crimp in the Postal Service’s plan to stop delivering letters on Saturdays. When the House passed a spending bill earlier this week, it left out any mention of easing the six-day mail delivery requirement. A spokeswoman for House Appropriators said the silence means Saturday delivery must continue. The Postal Service said it is still making plans to curtail Saturday delivery beginning in August. There’s a chance that the Senate could add the provision to the spending bill. But Senators are lukewarm on the idea. Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of House members is backing a bill to cap Postal executives’ compensation. (Federal News Radio)
  • Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said he will not seek re-election in 2014. He said in a statement that he and his wife Barbara struggled with the question of whether or not he should run again. But they find the country is at a crossroads. Levin said he is choosing instead to focus the rest of his term on his work as the Senate Armed Services chairman and as an advocate for Michigan. Levin was first elected to the Senate in 1978. He is the longest-serving senator in Michigan’s history. He has two years remaining in his term. (Federal News Radio)
  • Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said the committee is drafting a plan to prevent a government shutdown at the end of this month. It would not void the sequester. But it would give big departments like Agriculture, Justice and Homeland Security more control over their money. They would get detailed, line-by-line budgets. But other agencies would not. Mikulski described the bill in broad strokes in a floor speech. The House passed a narrower spending bill Wednesday. It included more flexibility over spending for the Pentagon, Homeland Security and the FBI. (Federal News Radio)
  • A Texas Republican is making a last-ditch effort to stop furloughs of federal employees. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) has introduced a bill to force the White House to come up with spending cuts that do not harm federal workers. The underlying theory is the Office of Management and Budget can develop a strategy that shifts money between accounts. Farenthold said feds shouldn’t be punished because political leaders failed to replace the sequester. He represents the Corpus Christi area. He said he worries about the impact on local military facilities and airport towers. (Federal News Radio)
  • John Brennan is the new director of the CIA. The Senate confirmed the former White House advisor after the Obama Administration clarified a controversial policy on drone strikes against terrorism suspects. It said explicitly there are limits on the president’s power to use drones against American suspects on U.S. soil. This came after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) had filibustered for nearly 13 hours, stopping only because he had to go to the bathroom. Thirteen Republicans joined Democrats in voting for Brennan. (Federal News Radio)