Wednesday Morning Federal Newscast – June 30th

Hoyer: Votes on wartime supplemental by Friday, Arlington Cemetery contractors investigated, VA hospital may have infected 1,800 veterans with HIV

The Morning Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear GovExec among others. The 2010 supplemental would provide funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would also help to cover costs for the military’s response to the Haiti earthquake. The Senate passed its version of the bill in late May. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that if Congress doesn’t approve the bill by Independence Day, the military might have to curtail defense operations, including furloughs.

  • A top Senate watchdog is launching an investigation into the role of federal contractors at Arlington National Cemetery. Gov Exec reports that Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri has asked Army Secretary John McHugh for copies of all private sector contracts by July 2, 2010. McCaskill also asked the Army to make Arlington’s Superintendent John Metzler and Deputy Superintendent Thurman Higginbotham available for interviews with committee staffers by July 9. She wants to know whether contractors are at fault for not properly accounting for the graves of hundreds of service members at Arlington.
  • A nearly $50-million dollar contract to provide constant surveillance by the military has been awarded. GovConWire reports that BAE Systems landed the Air Force contract to develop an infrared system that provides a real-time, high-resolution, wide area video persistent surveillance capability. The idea is to help the military keep critical areas under constant surveillance with high degree of target location accuracy.
  • The no-fly list has landed the federal government in court. The American Civil Liberties Union files suit on behalf of 10 citizens and legal permanent residents who have been placed on a no-fly list. Some of them have been stranded overseas. Defendants in the suit include Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller, according to the Washington Post, as well as Thomas Healy, director of the terrorist screening center. The ACLU says the government has violated the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights by being deprived of their rights without due process.
  • The federal government has decided to accept foreign aid from 12 countries and international organizations to dealing with the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The State Department said in a statement Tuesday, the U.S. is working out the particulars of the help that’s been accepted. Mexico, Norway, Holland and Japan are providing skimmers; Canada is providing containment boom; and Croatia is offering technical advice. More than 30 countries and international organizations have offered to help with the spill. The State Department hasn’t indicated why only some offers have been accepted.
  • A VA hospital may have exposed more than 1,800 patients to HIV and hepatitis. Missouri Congressman Russ Carnahan says the John Cochran VA Medical Center in Saint Louis recently mailed letters telling patients they may have contracted deadly viruses after dental work. The hospital tells a CNN affiliate the issue stems from a failure to properly clean dental instruments. Carnahan has called for an investigation.
  • Not so fast, says the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to the Obama administration’s bid to avoid storing nuclear waste in Nevada. Energy Secretary Steven Chu had withdrawn a two-year-old application to store spent fuel at Yucca Mountain, reports the Wall Street Journal. But the NRC ruled yesterday that Chu lacks the authority to withdraw the application. The judges cited the 1982 law, which, they said, does not give the secretary the discretion to substitute his policy for the one established by Congress. Ending the storage plan is a centerpiece of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is running for re-election this year.
  • He’s a machinist, mail handler and forklift operator. He’s spent 37 years at the San Bernadino, California processing and distribution center. Now he is retiring from the Postal Service. He plans to travel to Scandanavia and China. Oh, and he’s 95 years old. His name is Chester Reed, and he is the oldest employee of USPS. Reed, profiled in the Washington Post, will receive a leather NASCAR racing jacket from Postmaster General John Potter. Plus cake and ice cream from fellow employees. Reed will join his son in world travel, the Post reports.

  • More news links

    Rep. Mica Urges New Administrator to Get TSA Back on Track (press release)

    Arizona, Texas Call for More Border Troops (Wall Street Journal)

    D.C. finally shifts money needed for Hill East (Washington Business Journal)


    Coming up today on The DorobekInsider:

    ** Are there too many government contracts out there? A hearing on Capitol Hill today. Federal News Radio’s Jason Miller will have our report.

    ** And the just released National Strategy for Trusted Identities — we’ll get analysis about what this means for you from Mary Mitchell. She worked on government ID management issues for years. She’ll make sense of it for us.

    Join Chris from 3 to 7 pm on 1500 AM or on your computer.

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