Thursday morning federal headlines – Nov. 29. 2012

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.

  • What would the United States do with terrorist suspects if it shut down Guantanamo Bay? That question has mystified leaders since President Barack Obama promised to close the military prison back in 2009. There are alternatives, although none are easy. The Department of Defense has six prisons in the U.S. On average, they are just half full. The Government Accountability Office report said leaders should study cost and legal considerations plus security and space issues. Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) requested the GAO report. There are 166 detainees at Guantanamo. (Wired Magazine)
  • Leave a jacket behind at an airport checkpoint and it could find its way to a homeless veteran. The House has passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) requiring the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs to donate unclaimed clothing to homeless veterans. The bill now goes to the Senate. TSA has its own agreements with states over what to do with leftover items. The agency told The Washington Post that travelers forget about 850 pieces of clothing each day at airport checkpoints. Meanwhile, VA said about 75,000 vets are homeless. (The Washington Post)
  • One federal union called the latest GOP plan to avert sequestration a “Greatest Hits Album of Anti-Federal Employee Policies.” The title comes from the National Federation of Federal Employees. The union said Sen. Bob Corker’s (R-Tenn.) plan relies too heavily on cuts to the federal workforce. Corker’s new bill is more than 240 pages long. It would extend the federal pay freeze through 2015, place limits on new federal hires, cap travel budgets and slash pensions for new federal employees. It also breaks with the conservative party line, however. It would cap itemized deductions at $50,000 to generate nearly $750 billion of revenue. (NFFE)
  • Lawmakers are watching the Veterans Affairs Department’s every move when it comes to spending. House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) told agency officials at a contentious hearing yesterday, “The truce is over” and to expect more oversight of department conference and travel spending. Deputy Secretary Scott Gould said the department has taken matters into its own hands. It has ordered all employees that plan events to take ethics training. Last month, the VA inspector general publicly questioned more than $750,000 in spending on two conferences. (Federal News Radio)
  • A moderate GOP senator said she cannot support U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for Secretary of State. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) met privately with Rice yesterday. Collins said she needs more information about what Rice knew about the September attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya and the bombing of the U.S.embassy in Kenya in 1998. That’s when Rice was assistant secretary of state for African Affairs. If President Barack Obama nominates Rice to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton, he would need support from moderates like Collins to avoid a filibuster. Obama praised Rice during a cabinet meeting calling her “extraordinary” which earned a round of applause from cabinet members. (Federal News Radio)