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Eye Opener: March 11, 2009

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Wednesday! The Eye will spend his day on Capitol Hill and you can follow his every move through Twitter. The Obama administration names Seattle Police Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske as the nation's drug czar today, according to The Post's Chris Cillizza. His name first surfaced early last month, but his nomination was held up following revelations concerning the arrests of his son, Jeffrey, on drug-related charges.

Paychecks will be cut and the lights will go on at federal offices nationwide today, since the Senate gave final approval last night to a $410 billion spending bill to fund most of the government for the remainder of the year. As The Post's Shailagh Murray reports, "The bill was six months overdue, a victim of partisan gridlock at the end of George W. Bush's presidency but also sticker shock. Congress already has approved a $700 billion financial bailout and a $787 billion economic stimulus package. And Obama has said he is likely to ask for more money." ... "The measure would provide fiscal 2009 funding for nine federal departments, covering all government activities other than defense and homeland security-related agencies, whose funding was approved last fall. Many agencies would see big increases, in some cases 10 percent or more above fiscal 2008 levels."

In other news...

Intelligence Pick Pulls Out: Charles W. Freeman Jr. withdraws his name to serve as chairman of the National Intelligence Council after questions about his impartiality were raised among lawmakers and with White House officials. Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair accepts decision "with great regret," The Post's Walter Pincus reports.

EPA Plans Registry of Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The could serve as the basis for a federal cap on the buildup of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to global warming, reports The Post's Juliet Eilperin.

The Latest Moves at Treasury and State: From Mr. "In the Loop" Al Kamen.

NTEU Continues Campaign Against Career Interns: The union has filed an amicus brief in a Merit Systems Protection Board case that argues once again that FCIP illegally undermined veterans preference laws, reports Gov Exec's Alyssa Rosenberg.

Energy Dept. Said to Err on Coal Project: A Congressional report coming out today finds that the department "made a $500 million math error a year ago when it withdrew its support from a 'near-zero emissions' coal plant in Illinois," reports the New York Times' Matthew L. Wald.

Today's Big Event: The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health holds a 10 a.m. hearing asking, "How Do You Fix Our Ailing Food Safety System?" Check The Federal Eye later for updates from the hearing. More events here. Send your events listings to

'Virtual Fence' Gets 2nd Chance: The economic stimulus package allows the Department of Homeland Security to accelerate plans to build the costly and long-troubled project along the U.S.-Mexican border, report's USA Today's Mimi Hall.

Terrorist Watch List Hits 1 Million: Up 32 percent since 2007 despite the removal of 33,000 entries last year by the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, reports USA Today's Peter Eisler.

Teleworking On the Decline?: The Post's Joe Davidson writes that a new OPM report finds that federal employees are doing less of it, thanks partly to DOD reductions and bad math at NASA.

DEA Pursuit Crashes Cocaine Plane?: A plane carrying about 2,200 lbs. of cocaine crashes in northern Honduras, reportedly after two U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration helicopters were pursuing the aircraft.

TVA Stacked With 'Arrogant Clowns'?: A Tennessee state senator apologizes to Bozo for any offense; makes the comments as he unveils legislation on coal ash storage, reports Tom Humphrey of the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Today's Big Event: The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health holds a 10 a.m. hearing asking, "How Do You Fix Our Ailing Food Safety System?" More events here and send your events listings to

By Ed O'Keefe  | March 11, 2009; 5:30 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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