Monday federal headlines – June 2, 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 users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Today is Sloan Gibson‘s first full day at the helm of the Veterans Affairs Department, the government’s largest civilian agency. Gibson is the acting secretary until the Senate confirms a permanent replacement for Eric Shinseki. Gibson came to the VA in February from the United Services Organizations. He now has to fix an entrenched problem at the department. Last week, the inspector general confirmed that 1,700 veterans were victims of a scheme to hide long wait times at the Phoenix VA hospital. But that’s just the most recent of 19 similar reports issued since 2005. (Veterans Affairs/Associated Press)
  • The VA waiting list scandal sparked at least one new piece of legislation. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders promises a new version of a VA reform bill this week. Sanders’ bill would let veterans obtain health care outside of the VA system if they face long waits. It authorizes emergency funding for VA to hire more doctors and nurses. It would give VA leadership more flexibility to fire people, but not as much as in a House bill that died in the Senate. An earlier version of Sanders’ bill failed to pass the Senate in February. (Associated Press)
  • The Obama administration wants to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 30 percent. The EPA plans to roll out proposed rules today. The Wall Street Journal first reported the plan. It would give the industry until 2030 to reach the goal, and it would give states flexibility on how to carry out the mandate. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will announce the proposed rules. They are likely to spark sharp debate on Capitol Hill and in energy-producing states. (Associated Press)
  • The Federal Acquisition Regulation Council imposes retroactive pay caps on all companies working on Defense Department, Coast Guard and NASA contracts. Under the new rule, the government will reimburse vendors up to $487,000 per employee. That goes for all employees, including highly-paid scientists and engineers. Previously, only a company’s five highest-paid executives were subject to the cap. The limit applies to all compensation costs incurred on government contracts that were signed after Dec. 31, 2011. Alan Chvotkin of the Professional Services Council calls the retroactive measure “simply unacceptable.” (Federal News Radio)
  • Service members in nine countries have lost imminent danger pay. The Defense Department yesterday stopped paying the extra compensation to those serving in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The new policy also means that from now on, those deployed to those areas no longer get Rest and Recuperation. Air Force Col. Ron Dougherty oversees personnel issues for Air Forces Central Command. In a statement, he says the region has stabilized. Several of the locations now let service members bring their families with them. The policy only applies to service members who begin their tours after June 1. (Air Force)
  • The Pentagon has put on hold a plan to let certain illegal immigrants enlist. The White House asked for the delay. The New York Times reports, that’s because President Obama wants to avoid conflict with House Republicans considering whether to move ahead with an immigration reform bill. Earlier, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the limited number of people the military would let join would receive a way to become citizens. Some Senate Democrats criticized Hagel’s plan because it didn’t allow enough undocumented people to enlist. (New York Times)
  • The Energy Department says it could take 2 years to seal off its underground nuclear waste dump in New Mexico. In a filing, it says it needs at least 100 work weeks. The Waste Isolation Pilot Project contains toxic waste left over from decades of building nuclear bombs at Los Alamos National Lab. A radiation leak shut the plant down in February. The Energy Department also now says Los Alamos won’t be able to meet a deadline for removing all of its barrels of nuclear waste off of its New Mexico campus before wildfire season peaks later this month. It blames the delay on the plant’s closure. (Associated Press)