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Informal negotiations on health bill are likely instead of conference

Aide cites threat of procedural obstacles in leadership's decision to bypass formal conference committee to hammer legislative differences.

Panels set hearings, key Homeland Security posts still vacant

Bombing plot hearings to begin Jan. 20; Senate still needs to consider nominees for three top DHS jobs.

Deputy director begins work at OPM

Christine Griffin was confirmed five months ago, but starts this week; former EEOC commissioner to lead diversity efforts.

From Nextgov.com: Web application gives air travelers chance to rate airport security procedures

The Transportation Security Administration, which has not endorsed the real-time survey , has not responded to an offer to receive the polling results.

In final action of year, Senate OKs debt ceiling hike

The short-term $290 billion increase will allow the government to do business past Jan. 1, according to the Treasury Department.

Federal role in transit rail safety debated

Under current law, the Federal Transit Administration is prohibited from directly regulating the nation's public transit systems.

Head of Foreign Agricultural Service reassigned

Michael Michener had come under fire for focusing on Afghanistan projects at the expense of the agency’s traditional roles.

From Nextgov: Education, IRS try to make filing student aid form less daunting

The Education Department plans to allow certain students applying for aid to instantly transfer their tax data from an IRS database to the Web version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Administration alters stimulus job counting formula

OMB instructs recipients to count any position funded with Recovery Act dollars as a job saved.

Change of Fortunes

The Democrats’ hold on the House and Senate appears a lot more tenuous than it did one year ago.

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