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

  • Bill Clinton is back on Pennsylvania Avenue — 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. to be exact. The Environmental Protection Agency headquarters is now the William Jefferson Clinton Federal Building. Congress authorized the redesignation last summer to honor Clinton’s environmental initiatives. The building had been named after Ariel Rios. He was an Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agent killed in the line of duty. The building used to house that agency before the EPA moved in. GSA announced the name switch yesterday. At the same time, a federal courthouse in Texas was renamed after the two President George Bushes. (GPO)
  • The Veterans Affairs Department wants to overhaul its program of preference for buying from veteran owned small businesses. Because it’s so hard to verify a company is actually veteran owned, the program has been plagued with fraud. The rules were last overhauled in 2011. Now VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization has issued an advance notice for proposed new rules. It wants to lower fraud but raise the number of veteran owned business who do work for the VA. The notice includes questions on whether the term ownership needs to be better defined and if the application forms are clear enough. Comments on the proposal close in July. (GPO)
  • Jenny Yang was sworn in as commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission yesterday, filling a vacancy that has been open for more than a year. The board is once again at full strength with five members. Yang is a civil-rights and employment discrimination lawyer. She has worked for both the Justice Department and in private practice. President Barack Obama nominated her back in August. Yang fills the seat left by Democratic member Stuart Ishimaru, who is now at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (EEOC)
  • The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors at The Associated Press. AP lawyers say Justice got listings of outgoing calls for both office and personal phone numbers of several reporters. It also got call records for switchboards in New York, Washington and Hartford, Conn., and even the House of Representatives press gallery. AP president Gary Pruitt wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder, demanding return of the records and destruction of copies. The AP reports, Justice won’t say why it went after the records. But the department earlier launched a criminal investigation into possible leaks leading to a May 2012 AP story about a foiled terror plot. (Federal News Radio)
  • Move over, John. brother Cameron Kerry will get a seat at the White House cabinet table. The Washington Post reports, the Commerce Department’s top lawyer will become acting secretary when Rebecca Blank leaves at the end of this month. It may be the first time that brothers have served together as cabinet secretaries. While it’s only temporary, the president’s pick for permanent secretary, Penny Pritzker, has yet to go through the Senate confirmation process. Cameron Kerry has been the Commerce Department’s general counsel since 2009. (The Washington Post)
  • The Internal Revenue Service scandal is widening. More of Washington is weighing in against the agency’s revelation that it targeted conservative nonprofits. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) says the Senate Finance Committee will investigate. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) called for the firing of anyone involved. The House Ways and Means and Government Oversight committees are both planning hearings. President Obama called the IRS’ behavior outrageous. The IRS inspector general told White House counsel about its own probe in late April. The Washington Post reports, documents show the targeting of conservatives involved high-level IRS officials in Washington. (Federal News Radio/The Washington Post)