Tuesday federal headlines – June 4, 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.

  • The White House plans to release a strategy to deal with patent trolls. President Barack Obama wants to rein in companies that amass portfolios of patents with no intention of using them to build products. Instead they sue companies that do develop products the trolls claim violates their patents. The Wall Street Journal reports, the forthcoming executive order will mean the Patent and Trademark Office gets a new assignment. It will have to initiate rulemaking for patent holders to disclose the identities of patent owners. Obama will also call on Congress to pass legislation to trim excessive patent lawsuits. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • The White House says President Barack Obama will veto a pair of national- security spending bills moving through the House unless they come with other measures to bolster education and the economy. At issue are the fiscal 2014 appropriations for Homeland Security and for military construction and Veterans Affairs. They are mostly kind to the affected agencies. But the White House says Congress must agree on a topline discretionary budget before passing individual bills. Otherwise, it says, bills like these would lead to draconian cuts elsewhere. The House plans this week to consider the first of 12 spending bills. (Federal News Radio)
  • The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee says he’s prepared to use the power of the purse to rein in the IRS. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) says Congress may consider making funding conditional upon how well the agency performs. His warning came during a hearing on the agency’s targeting of conservative groups applying for tax exempt status. The acting commissioner, Danny Werfel, acknowledged that the agency has lost the trust of the American people. He told Rogers he is committed to restoring it. Werfel went to the committee to request a 9 percent budget increase to cover the agency’s costs related to the Affordable Care Act. (Federal News Radio)
  • A two-time IRS manager is returning for a third tour of duty in the agency’s time of crisis. Todd Grams will become the IRS chief of staff. He starts tomorrow. He’ll report to the acting commissioner, Danny Werfel. Grams will leave VA, where he is chief financial officer and executive in charge of the office of management. Grams disclosed his plans in an email obtained by Federal News Radio. He spent two years as the tax agency’s CFO, and three years as its chief information officer. The IRS is under fire for the way it handled tax exempt applications from conservative groups. (Federal News Radio)
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is sparing its 12,000 employees from furloughs during hurricane season. The Washington Post has posted an email from Acting Administrator Kathryn Sullivan to staff. She says the recent tornados in Oklahoma and Missouri show how important the agency is to the nation’s health and safety. The Commerce Department late Friday transmitted a new sequestration plan to Congress after being given more budget flexibility. Employees were scheduled to receive furlough notices this week. (The Washington Post)
  • The Supreme Court says a dead federal employee’s benefits go to his ex-wife despite his remarriage. Warren Hillman made his first wife the beneficiary of his Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance policy before their divorce. He never changed the designation after he remarried. When Hillman died, his first wife got the money. The second wife sued. Despite Virginia law, no luck. The court says named beneficiaries get the money. (Federal Newsa Radio)