Monday Morning Federal Newscast – June 1st

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear consolidation of agency shuttle bus routes to save money and cut carbon emissions, according to Federal Times. The administration is reacting to a General Services Administration report that 158 shuttle buses moving people from agency to agency, or agency to Metro in Washington are often only a third full. The administration suspects the government could save millions by combining routes and using fewer vehicles.

  • The House votes down a proposal to freeze federal salaries. The idea had been introduced by Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachman. It would have nixed pay raises fiscal year, an effort to cut federal spending. But the House voted 227 to 183 against the idea on Friday. The Senate turned down a similar measure earlier last week.
  • The House approves more than $720 billion dollars in spending for the Defense and Energy departments next fiscal year. House members have given the green light to the 2011 defense authorization bill. The energy department would get to spend money on national security programs, under the measure. It also includes language to repeal a ban on gays serving openly in the military. But the authorization bill isn’t final yet. The Senate is still working on its own version.
  • President Barack Obama is to have his first meeting with the co-chairmen of the commission investigating BP’s catastrophic spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Obama still has to name the five other commission members. Meanwhile oil is gushing from the blown out well for the 42nd day.
  • The Navy has joined the fight against the oil spill in the Gulf. NextGov reports the Navy has deployed sensors to track the oil’s movement. The military service becomes part of a much larger federal response. President Obama has asked his Interior and Homeland Security secretaries to triple the manpower in places where the oil has hit — or is within 24 hours of making landfall. But it’s not clear how much of that extra manpower involves federal employees.
  • The Coast Guard unit responsible for coordinating oil spill responses would be shut down under the Obama administration’s 2011 budget plan. The controversial proposal would reduce Coast Guard manpower and funding by 3 percent, and close the National Strike Force Coordination Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. That’s reported by the Washington Post. Senior officers say the move would weaken the Coast Guard’s ability to react to events such as the BP oil spill. But some retired officers question whether the Coast Guard has sufficient expertise to deal with oil spills.
  • The federal government has sent a mobile medical unit to Venice, Lousianna to help responders and residents affected by the oil spill. The unit will provide basic medical care. It will be staffed by a medical team from the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • U.S. military forces are leaving Haiti today. United Nations forces and civilian groups will remain to help the country rebuild its capital following a massive earthquake in January. The departure date had long been agreed to, between the U.S. and Haitain governments. State Department spokeman P.J. Crowley tells the Wall Street Journal that a basic level of sustainment has been reached in Haiti, and that the U.S. Agency for International Development will stay around to help with reconstruction. Five hundred National Guard troops will remain in Haiti for several months to help build schools and health clinics.
  • A bump in the road for two labor unions vying to become the exclusive representative of workers at the Transportation Security Administration. The Chicago branch of the Federal Labor Relations Authority has denied petitions from the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union. The regional labor authority says it has no jurisdiction over the matter, because TSA workers do not have collective bargaining rights. That’s upholding a decision seven years ago. Both unions are planning appeals.
  • The chief of the Interior Department’s land management bureau has taken a second job: acting head of the troubled Minerals Management Service. That agency regulates the oil industry. Bob Abbey is filling in after Elizabeth Birnbaum resigned last Thursday, 10 months into her tenure leading MMS. Birnbaum had been criticized for not doing enough to reverse a culture in which MMS regulators grew too close to the oil and natural gas industry. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has proposed replacing MMS with three separate agencies.
  • The next time you go hiking through tall grass, know that NASA is tracking all those blood-sucking ticks via satellite. It’s part of a NASA-backed program at the University of Alabama. Graduate students are pioneering a new technique that uses satellite images of a national forest in Alabama to find areas where ticks are likely to thrive. The tiny arachnids like moist areas with lots of plant life. One of the programs goals is to help people avoid ticks that cause disease.
  • There was a big buzz on Wall Street Monday, even with the stock market closed for Memorial Day. Bees swarmed the doorway of a high-end restaurant and filled the nearby air. The NYPD’s beekeeper vacuumed them up and moved them to Connecticut.

  • More news links

    VA Announces Winners in Innovation Competition (FederalDaily)

    Census workers share their horror stories (NY Post)

    Al-Qaida: No. 3 official killed with family

    ‘Flotels’ await oil spill cleanup workers on Gulf

    Marine aircraft mishap injures 10 at NYC park

    B-17 drops flowers in NY to honor CIA casualties

    Govt to hit airlines harder for bumping passengers


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