Tuesday federal headlines – May 21, 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.

  • They’re at it again. The Treasury is about to tap into federal employees’ retirement and disability funds to keep the government going. That’s until Congress votes to raise the debt ceiling. At that point, Treasury would borrow fresh money and repay the retirement accounts with interest. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew says the tactic can keep the lights on until at least Labor Day. Congress voted to temporarily suspend the debt limit in January. That suspension ended Sunday.(Federal News Radio)
  • Former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman will testify before the Senate Finance Committee. He’ll be asked about a program that seemed to target for special scrutiny, conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. Lawmakers are likely to ask, what Shulman knew about goings-on in the Cincinnati office, and when did he find out? Also, why Shulman didn’t mention it to Congress after he was briefed. Yesterday, the White House revealed that Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and other senior advisers knew in late April about the upcoming Treasury inspector general’s report. (Federal News Radio)
  • Oklahoma Gov.Mary Fallin (R) deployed 80 National Guard members to assist with rescue operations in Moore. The suburban city of 56,000, near Oklahoma City, was laid waste by a gigantic tornado. Fallin spoke with President Barack Obama, who declared a major disaster. Obama ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it was the third deadliest tornado since the government started keeping records in 1950. The National Weather Service issued an initial finding that the tornado was an EF-4 on the enhanced Fujita scale, the second most-powerful type of twister. (Federal News Radio)
  • The House passed a bill to outlaw phony claims of military accomplishment for the purpose of making money or of obtaining government benefits. The newest version of the Stolen Valor Act overcomes a flaw in an earlier version the Supreme Court overturned. The Court said false claims of military valor are protected free speech unless used for fraud. The new bill, from Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), passed 390 to 3. (Federal News Radio)
  • There are new assistant secretaries at the Treasury and Agriculture departments and they came to their positions more easily than usual. President Barack Obama appointed them using the faster process passed by Congress last year, reports The Washington Post. Senators still have the power to object to an appointee, but they no longer require Senate approval. Natalie Wyeth Earnest was name the assistant secretary for public affairs at Treasury and Gregory L. Parham was name assistant secretary for administration at the USDA. (The Washington Post)
  • The Justice inspector general is looking into whether a former Arizona federal prosecutor can be sanctioned professionally. He leaked internal documents in 2011. He was trying to undermine a congressional inquiry into the controversial Fast and Furious gun tracing operation. Dennis Burke was fired so be can’t be sanctioned any more by Justice. But the IG referred his case to the Office of Professional Responsibility. Burke could still be punished by state legal associations. (Federal News Radio)