Thursday morning federal headlines – March 14, 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.

  • Customs and Border Protection faces a bevy of lawsuits from immigrant advocacy groups. They allege Border Patrol agents had an American citizen deported, stopped another only to do a “citizenship checkup” and beat up another so badly she had to go to the hospital. The groups also filed complaints on behalf of illegal immigrants held at a Texas detention center. They complained of overcrowding and mistreatment. The agency would not comment on the lawsuits. It says it does not tolerate misconduct or abuse. The Border Patrol Council warns these types of suits are taking a toll on morale. They come amid notices of furloughs and cuts in overtime. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Agriculture Department is suspending some popular reports, citing sequestration budget cuts. The National Agricultural Statistical Service maintains data on a range of faming categories. Its reports can affect markets. The service says it will stop reports on production of milk, cattle, potatoes, peas, hops, non-citrus fruit, rice, mink and catfish. The suspension of the monthly reports will last until the end of the fiscal year. In a notice on its website, USDA says the decision to interrupt the reports was not made lightly. The agency says it will save nearly $6 million. (Federal News Radio)
  • Future budget battle lines sharpened when Senate Democrats unveiled their plan for 2014 and beyond. It was introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairman of the Budget Committee. It calls for $1 trillion in tax hikes and slightly higher levels of spending over 10 years. The committee votes on the measure today. The Senate plan is the diametric opposite of a budget approved by the House Budget Committee. The Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) blueprint would cut growth in entitlement programs and promise $4 trillion more in deficit reduction than the Democratic plan. Both measures face floor debates next week. (Federal News Radio)
  • Security agencies are cutting overtime hours to save money. It’s causing major changes in how officers do their jobs. TSA screeners say working overtime makes up for the short staffing at airports. Now there are fewer lanes open. Border Patrol agents routinely work overtime 10 hours a week. The Border Patrol Council says that’s ending April 7. It says illegal immigrants are taking advantage of the shortage. Meanwhile, an Associated Press analysis shows Immigration and Customs Enforcement has released more than 2,000 detainees from jails within the past month, choosing cheaper forms of supervision. The agency disputes the high number, saying it’s more like a few hundred. (Federal News Radio)
  • President Barack Obama has tapped a new envoy to Libya six months after the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador. Like the late Chris Stevens, Deborah Jones is a career diplomat and Middle East expert. She served as Ambassador to Kuwait before joining the Middle East Institute in Washington. The announcement comes as Secretary of State John Kerry met with Libyan leaders. Authorities there have not arrested anyone for the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi. Kerry insisted the attackers be brought to justice. (Federal News Radio)