Tuesday federal headlines – February 25, 2014

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.

  • President Barack Obama will propose a 1 percent pay increase for both civilian agency and Defense Department employees in 2015. He sends his budget request to Congress next week. It would be the second year in a row federal employees receive a raise. A White House official tells Federal News Radio, the uniformed DoD leadership pushed for the 1 percent for service members. Raises in 2014 follow three years of pay freezes for civilian federal employees. (Federal News Radio)
  • Promising the military could still fight and win the nation’s wars, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel proposes a sharp shrinkage in the size of the Army. Under the 2015 budget proposal due out next week, the Army would shrink 13 percent. It would be the smallest since before World War II. Hagel also propose cutting platforms such as an A-10 Warthog. And he proposed a package of military benefits reductions including smaller pay raises and higher health insurance deductibles and co-pays. (Associated Press)
  • Congress already is criticizing the Obama administration’s plan to shrink the military to its smallest size in years. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon says the government is trying to solve its financial problems on the backs of the military. His Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Carl Levin, concedes that passing the Pentagon’s budget would be a huge challenge. His committee gets its first crack at the plan today. It hears from six nominees for senior Pentagon jobs. Those include Bob Work, tapped for deputy secretary of defense. (Associated Press)
  • The Senate begins debate on a bill to expand government services for veterans. Provisions include fertility treatment and coverage of adoption costs for vets who became infertile because of service-related injuries. The bill would expand VA counseling and treatment for sexual assault victims. It would increase the department’s chiropractic care, dentistry coverage and use of alternative medicine, such as yoga for treating stress. A two-year program would pay for fitness center memberships for overweight veterans who live more than 15 minutes from a VA fitness facility. The price tag: $21 billion over the next decade. (Senate)
  • The House Intelligence Committee’s leader says his panel does not like the White House plan to move data on Americans’ phone calls from the National Security Agency to a third party. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) tells the Wall Street Journal, he has spoken with both Republicans and Democrats. He says the proposal is on the table but would have a hard time passing. Faced with mounting privacy concerns, President Barack Obama proposed moving the database out of government hands. That would force the NSA to take an extra step to retrieve information. But no telecom company has expressed interest in storing the data. (Wall Street Journal)
  • President Obama announces the creation of two Pentagon-led manufacturing innovation hubs. One will be in Chicago. It will concentrate on high-tech digital manufacturing and design. The second, in the Detroit suburbs, will focus on light metal manufacturing. The White House says the Michigan hub will work towards defense goals like developing armored vehicles strong enough to withstand roadside bombs but light enough for helicopter transport. The Pentagon contributes slightly less than half the cost of the two hubs. That’s $70 million for each site. The states, universities and local companies fund the rest. (Associated Press)
  • The White House wants agencies to make even more data available to the public. In a memo, the Office of Management and Budget suggests agencies hold back on releasing administrative data. That’s the stuff they already have to collect because of regulations or program demands. OMB says agencies resist because they either misunderstand the rules or think it’s too hard to comply with them. The memo offers tips on protecting the privacy and confidentiality of people, companies and others that provide the information. It sets a deadline of June 30 for progress reports. (Federal News Radio)
  • The General Services Administration awarded the first of two sets of multiple- award contracts for professional services. 123 small businesses received awards under the set-aside portion of the One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services, or OASIS. The small business portion of the governmentwide acquisition contract is divided into seven pools. Each pool has companies that meet the federal size standards for small business in various industries. GSA officials say they’ll award the the unrestricted portion of OASIS around April 1. (Federal News Radio)
  • A federal proposal to clean up smoke from wood stoves has sparked a backlash from some rural residents and lawmakers. Manufacturers of wood stoves have also objected. The new rule would sharply reduce the amount of particulate new wood stoves produce. One company says no stove made today would meet the requirement. Wood stoves are a staple in many rural areas. They are economical and make attractive centerpieces in many homes. States such as Washington and New York already have adopted stricter emission rules. Last fall, New York led a coalition of seven states in a federal lawsuit. Its goal was to compel the EPA to adopt new emission limits on wood-fired boilers that heat water. (Associated Press)
  • The Labor Department is considering ending its program of tracking import and export prices. The Wall Street Journal reports, the cost-cutting measure would affect measures of inflation and economic output. Economists use the data to measure import inflation. The information is considered a principal economic indicator. Last year, Labor ended the tracking of mass layoffs, environmentally friendly jobs and international labor markets. The Bureau of Labor Statistics received a small budget increase for 2014. But its funding remains far below 2011 and 2012 levels. (Wall Street Journal)