Thursday federal headlines – June 26, 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.

  • The Veterans Affairs Department says two high-level officials will depart. Robert Jesse, the acting undersecretary for health, leaves because his four-year term expires next week. His assistant, Carolyn Clancy, moves up to replace Jesse while a special commission hunts for a permanent undersecretary. General Counsel Will Gunn has resigned. He came under fire for delaying orders to preserve records related to appointment waiting lists. Jonathan Perlin, now a medical executive with Hospital Corporation of America, will join VA temporarily as special adviser to acting Secretary Sloan Gibson. (Federal News Radio)
  • House Republicans say retired IRS official Lois Lerner suggested auditing Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) in 2012. Grassley earlier in the year had recommended investigating the IRS for targeting Tea Party-affiliated groups. The Wall Street Journal reports, Lerner found out a group that invited Grassley to speak had offered to pay his wife’s way to the event. She then suggested, via email, that someone be referred to the IRS audit section. But the email is ambiguous. It could refer to Grassley or the group paying his wife. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp calls the incident shocking. (Wall Street Journal)
  • A Senate committee passes a bill to overhaul the pay system for the U.S. Border Patrol. Federal Times reports, the bill would establish three pay schedule options. One would allow for 20 overtime hours in a two-week period, one for 10 hours and one with zero overtime hours. Critics say the Border Patrol has abused its current pay system with too much overtime. The bill is sponsored by Sens. John Tester (D-Mont.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), both of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. (Federal Times)
  • The White House asks Congress to stop making federal employees file so many reports. The Obama Administration says at least 74 reports should be cut or consolidated. It calls upon Congress to pass bills that are pending in both the House and Senate. If they do, then federal employees won’t have to research and report to Congress on violations of the Dog and Cat Fur Protection Act or an Interior Department program that ended five years ago. (White House)
  • A bill to protect intelligence employees who blow the whistle is heading to the President’s desk. Following the Senate, the House has approved the measure. The legislation echoes a presidential directive and expands upon it. Intelligence community workers could not be punished for reporting waste, fraud and abuse to their supervisors, the inspector general or congressional committees. They would also gain the right to appeal to a special board if they face retaliation for speaking out. (Congress)
  • The White House today asks Congress for nearly $60 billion more in wartime funding. Defense News reports, the administration will submit its Overseas Contingency Operations request for fiscal 2015. In addition to that money, the departments of State and Defense seek $5 billion to fund counterterrorism initiatives and $1 billion more for military operations in Europe. The budget assumes that 9,800 troops will remain in Afghanistan in January. But Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale tells Bloomberg News the department likely will continue these contingency requests, even after most troops leave Afghanistan. (Army Times)
  • The war in Afghanistan may be coming to an end, but not the Pentagon’s annual war funding requests. The Defense Comptroller, Robert Hale, tells Bloomberg, so-called overseas contingency operations funding requests will probably go on for years. Hale says President Obama’s call for a billion-dollar European Reassurance Initiative is the type of program that would need a supplemental appropriation. Ditto for the proposed $5 billion counterterrorism fund. For 2015, the Pentagon is requesting nearly $57 billion for contingency spending. (Bloomberg Government)