Thursday federal headlines – October 3, 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 government shutdown settles into day three with no end in sight. Last night’s White House meeting among the President and congressional leaders of both parties produced no agreement. House Speaker John Boehner says his chamber will continue today with votes on bills to open parts of government, including the VA and pay for National Guard and Reserve Members. The President warned investors that the impasse may affect debt ceiling debates later this month. The sold-out Navy-Air Force football game will take place this weekend as scheduled. (Federal News Radio)
  • Thousands of federal workers in the Washington metro region are filing for unemployment because of the government shutdown. The District is telling feds to apply online because of the increased demand. D.C. officials caution there may be delays in verifying applicants’ employment status while federal offices are closed. The District has a one-week waiting period before it pays benefits. The Maryland Labor Department says it received 4,000 unemployment claims from federal workers on Tuesday, the first day of the shutdown. Virginia is also receiving thousands of requests. Unemployment claims are generally filed where you work, not where you live. (Associated Press)
  • Members of Congress have dismissed most of their staff. Cafeterias, gift shops, garages and even the congressional barber shop have closed, but members of Congress continue to get paid; they have to by law. It costs taxpayers about $10,000 an hour. Several lawmakers from both parties volunteered to donate their salaries to charity. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R -S.C.) says in a video, he’ll donate his pay to the Wounded Warrior Project. (Sen. Lindsay Graham YouTube)
  • The federal government shutdown pinches welfare programs at the state level, but the fallout varies depending on how programs are funded. Affected programs include Head Start for pre-schoolers, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Head Start is funded Oct. 1, so several states suspended it, the Wall Street Journal reports. Some have halted WIC and TANF assistance, others reprogramed state funds. Food Stamps and Medicaid are unaffected by the shutdown. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The House has passed a bill to extend a special visa program for Iraqis who have helped the United States during a decade of war. The Senate is expected to approve the bill today and send it to the President. The expedited visa program has allowed more than 12,000 Iraqi contractors, interpreters and others to immigrate to this country. But thousands more are waiting in limbo. The application process is complicated, and it requires paperwork from the US Military, Iraqi police and other government organizations. (Associated Press)
  • A military contractor is furloughing thousands of workers because of the government shutdown. Connecticut-based United Technologies Corporation is asking 2,000 employees in the division that makes Black Hawk helicopters to stay home without pay beginning Monday. The employees work at facilities in Connecticut, Florida and Alabama. If the shutdown continues into next month, it could furlough up to 5,000 employees…or 2 percent of its workforce, the company says. It’s also halting some defense manufacturing. With government inspectors on furlough, the company doesn’t have the federal approvals it needs to make certain products. (Associated Press)
  • The Air Force lieutenant colonel whose sexual assault case sparked national outrage is retiring. Air Force Times reports former Aviano Air Base Inspector General James Wilkerson is leaving, possibly at a lower rank. A military court had found Wilkerson guilty of sexual assault. His commander overturned the verdict, which led to calls that military leaders be stripped of their power to change convictions of service members. The Air Force had given Wilkerson a show-cause notice asking him to retire or make his case for staying in the military. (Air Force Times)
  • U.S. and Japanese military officials say they will position a second early-warning radar in Japan within the next year. They’ll also jointly deploy new, long-range American-made surveillance drones to help monitor disputed islands in the East China Sea. Those moves threaten to raise tensions with China, which has been asserting its rights in the region. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the deployments while traveling in Asia with Secretary of State John Kerry. Hagel also says Japan will contribute more than $3 billion to help relocate Marines from Okinawa to Guam. (Associated Press)
  • Top intelligence officials say the National Security Agency has tried to track Americans’ cellphone locations. It was part of a two-year pilot to test the technology. NSA chief General Keith Alexander says the agency did not actually track Americans’ movements, as he spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The panel is considering legislation to restrict the surveillance programs. Alexander denied reports that the NSA dug into American’s social media networks, and he says the agency has discliplined all but one of the dozen employees who have used the agency’s technology for unauthorized purposes, including spying on their girlfriends. (Associated Press)
  • The FBI has arrested an alleged hacker and online purveyor of illicit goods. Ross Ulbricht was the owner and operator of Silk Road, an underground website officials say generated nearly $1.2 billion in sales. Law enforcement also seized 26,000 Bitcoins, ComputerWorld reports. Ulbricht was arrested in San Francisco and was to be arraigned yesterday. His site was taken down last month. It listed 13,000 controlled substances and a trove of hacker tools including key loggers, banking Trojans, and remote access tools. Silk Road also connected gun and ammunition buyers and sellers. It offered fake passports and Social Security cards. (ComputerWorld)