Monday federal headlines – October 7, 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.

  • The House voted unanimously to give furloughed federal employees back pay, once the government shutdown ends. The bill had been introduced by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has introduced a companion bill in the Senate. The White House has already expressed approval for the measure. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wonders why, if they’re going to get paid anyhow, furloughed feds aren’t allowed to just come back to work. (Federal News Radio)
  • The eight-day old government shutdown will end for most furloughed civilian Defense employees this week. They’ll get paid, too. Top DoD officials over the weekend said a legal review of the Pay Our Military Act means 90 percent of 350,000 employees could return. Congress passed the bill early in the shutdown last week. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the new law doesn’t allow cancelling furloughs across- the-board. Instead, it will be up to each service or Defense agency leaders to determine which job functions can return. (Federal News Radio)
  • The bitter divide that’s partially shut down the federal government widened to include the impending debt ceiling. It played out on the airwaves Sunday. Republican House Speaker John Boehner tells ABC, any bill to re-open the government and increase the borrowing limit would have to include deficit reduction measures. He says President Barack Obama’s insistence on a clean continuing resolution bill is putting the country at risk. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says on CNN, it’s the Republicans who are playing with fire. He says it would be dangerous and reckless to let the Oct. 17 deadline pass with out a debt ceiling deal. (Associated Press)
  • The Supreme Court hears the first arguments of the new term today despite the government shutdown. The Court says it’s business as usual, at least through Friday. The new term features cases on the president’s recess appointments, campaign contributions, housing discrimination and government-sanctioned prayer. The rest of the federal judiciary has enough funds to operate for about six more business days, although each court can make adjustments under the lapse in funding. The Administrative Office of the Courts says it will reassess the situation on Oct. 15. (U.S. Courts)
  • U.S. military teams in two African locations captured one suspected terrorists, but failed to get another. Special Operations forces plucked al-Qaida operative Nazih Abdul-Hamid al-Ruqai off a street in Tripoli in daylight. He’s wanted in connection with the 1998 bombings of two American embassies that killed 200 people. He had a $5 million bounty on his head. In Somali, Navy SEALs were unable to nab a member of the al-Shabab group responsible for the terror attack at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. 67 people died. The Libyan operation drew criticism from the government there. Secretary of State John Kerry says the capture was legally justified.(Associated Press)
  • The Army’s plan to tighten restrictions on soldiers’ tattoos has set off a rush to get inked. That’s because existing tattoos will be grandfathered when the rule takes effect, 60 days after it becomes finalized. That’s expected shortly. The rule will ban tattoos below the elbow or knee. The Wall Street Journal reports, tattoo parlors near Army bases are doing a land-office business. One shop owner near Fort Knox, Ky., says rumors of tattoo rules always spark a run-up in business. Some soldiers question the rule because standard Army uniforms have long sleeves and trousers. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The new Defense Health Agency officially opened on Oct. 1. The unit is supposed to streamline health care among the Army, Navy and Air Force medical departments. It was authorized by law earlier this year and has been in the works for three decades. It will buy medical supplies and equipment for all the services. It will oversee the TRICARE health plan, pharmacy operations and medical education. The military is struggling to control health care costs, which amount to about $51 billion a year, or more than 10 percent of the department’s budget. (Military Health System)
  • We’ve all heard: continuous monitoring is the buzz word in federal cybersecurity. The Office of Management and Budget is trying to decide what agencies should monitor. OMB Director Sylvia Burwell is reviewing the first major cyber policy change in three years. When she’s done, expect more clarity on the types of systems and information that are supposed to be watched 24-7. Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller reports, those in the know are applauding the cautious approach. They don’t want a continuous monitoring policy, absent detail, to stoke public fears of another government surveillance program. (Federal News Radio)
  • The General Services Administration is delaying a major professional services contract in light of the shutdown. It is putting off the deadline for industry proposals for the OASIS contract. It had been set for Thursday. GSA faces three protests of the multi-billion-dollar solicitation. (Federal News Radio)