Tuesday morning federal headlines – April 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 FederalNewsRadio.com users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • President Barack Obama has nominated a senior economic adviser to become deputy budget director. If confirmed by the Senate, Brian Deese would take the number two slot in the Office of Management and Budget. Obama nominated Wal-Mart’s Sylvia Matthews Burwell as director. Jeffrey Zients is the acting OMB director. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Congressional Budget Office is detailing just how much unemployment benefits have cost taxpayers over the past few years. In a blog post, analyst William Carrington says federal spending on unemployment insurance shot up from $33 billion in 2004 to a high of $155 billion in 2010. Outlays have been falling since then. Harrington says CBO believes the payments went back into the economy as family spending. CBO recommends Congress consider restructuring the unemployment benefits to encourage employment. (CBO)
  • How many swear words should someone get to say on TV before the FCC cracks down? And how much skin should they be allowed to show? The commission is asking for public comment as it revises its long-standing rules against profanity and nudity. The review comes in the wake of a Supreme Court decision last fall. It forced the FCC to review its policies to ensure they did not violate broadcasters’ free speech rights. In the meantime, the FCC says it has reduced the backlog of pending complaints by 70 percent. It closed about a million that were too old, lacked evidence or were settled by precedent. (CBO)
  • Former Securities and Exchange Commission chairwoman Mary Schapiro has landed a big D.C. consulting gig. The Wall Street Journal reports, Schapiro will become managing director at Promontory Financial Group. It advises clients on regulatory and compliance matters. It employs many former federal regulatory officials. Schapiro says there’s no danger of a revolving door because, she says she’ll never go back to government. Schapiro is unique in also having led the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. She left the SEC about four months ago. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Regulators are studying the potential impact of ending Saturday deliveries of first-class mail. The Postal Regulatory Commission wants to know exactly how much money the move could save. The Postal Service has said it would save $2 billion a year. Many on Capitol Hill don’t buy that claim. Lawmakers from rural areas in particular don’t like the idea. And others question how it would save so much money when the Postal Service would still deliver packages and bulk mail on Saturdays. The agency plans to curtail Saturday deliveries beginning in August. (Federal News Radio)
  • Customs and Border Protection officials have done an about-face on furloughs. The agency says it won’t impose unpaid days off for now. And it will continue to authorize overtime pay. Why the change in plans? A CBP statement says the 2013 federal budget bill enacted last week give it more money. The agency is still working under sequestration, only a little less so. CBP joins the Defense Department, which last week delayed furloughs and reduced the number of furlough days for its civilian workforce. (Federal News Radio)
  • The White House has sent furlough notices to 480 employees. They all work in the Office of Management and Budget. Press secretary Jay Carney wouldn’t say whether other presidential staff members were warned. But he didn’t rule out furloughs for other White House sections. He says the White House has been trying to cut costs other ways. It’s slowed down hiring, cut purchases of office supplies, and reduced travel and the use of mobile Internet cards. (Federal News Radio)
  • The Homeland Security Department expects to run out of visas for high-skilled immigrants in a matter of days. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications yesterday. It has just 85,000 H-1B visas available for fiscal 2014. If demand outstrips supply this week, the agency says it will resort to a lottery for the first time in five years. It’s one sign of a continued economic recovery and healthy U.S. tech sector. Last year, it took 10 weeks to hit the cap. (Federal News Radio)