By David Lawder and Thomas Ferraro WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday were falling in line behind a bipartisan two-year budget deal, indicating that the normally rambunctious group of lawmakers is not spoiling for a year-end fiscal fight. Despite conservative groups' denunciation of the plan and public opposition from some members associated with the conservative Tea Party movement, the Republican-controlled House was planning to vote on Thursday to pass the deal, Representative Kevin McCarthy, the third-ranking Republican told Reuters. A key House panel, on a 9-3 vote, cleared the legislation for debate and votes in the full House. The Republican-controlled Rules Committee refused to allow Democrats to offer an amendment to extend federal unemployment benefits that expire later this month.
By Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. senators will introduce legislation to impose new sanctions on Iran as soon as this week, Senate aides said on Wednesday, despite the Obama administration's insistence that such a measure would violate terms of an interim agreement to curb Tehran's nuclear program. Iran's foreign minister has also said a new sanctions law would kill the agreement. In the interim agreement, Tehran agreed to limit uranium enrichment in return for an easing of international sanctions. Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican Senator Mark Kirk are finishing legislation that would target Iran's remaining oil exports and foreign exchange and seek to limit President Barack Obama's ability to waive sanctions.
By Andy Sullivan ROGERS, Arkansas (Reuters) - In an unmarked building on the outskirts of this old railroad town, hundreds of workers are going about the unglamorous work of expanding the United States' social safety net. From morning until midnight, clerks here type up the names, Social Security numbers and other personal details of those who have filled out paper applications for health insurance under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. From the outside, there's no indication that the workers in the three-story brick building are carrying out an increasingly crucial part of the healthcare overhaul known as Obamacare. But as the Obama administration tries to recover from the disastrous debut of the website that is supposed to enroll millions of Americans in health coverage, its call for frustrated Americans to enroll the old-fashioned way - on paper - have made this building in Rogers, Arkansas, one of the most important cogs in the president's signature domestic achievement.
A top aide of Republican Senator Lamar Alexander was arrested on Wednesday in connection with child pornography allegations, the U.S. Justice Department said. "Jesse Ryan Loskarn, 35, of Washington, D.C., was arrested this afternoon by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service based on probable cause for possession and distribution of child pornography charges," said Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman. The senator named longtime aide David Cleary to be his new chief of staff.
Wed, 11 Dec 2013 18:20:00 -0500
Obamacare agency relies on manual back-ups as enrollment rises
By David Morgan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As online enrollment accelerates for medical insurance under President Barack Obama's health law, the government is relying on manual back-up systems to correct computer errors that could leave some enrollees uninsured, the top U.S. health official said on Wednesday. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius described the manual procedure as a temporary measure for software applications that have not yet been built, tested and incorporated into the massive system behind the HealthCare.gov website. But in the meantime, the payment system will absolutely go forward." The admission appeared to weigh on Sebelius' attempts to tout improvements in the website that was established under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. The site provides access to new federal health insurance marketplaces in 36 states.
Wed, 11 Dec 2013 17:52:50 -0500
The photographer who captured President Barack Obama participating in a selfie at Nelson Mandela's memorial service on Tuesday insists Michelle Obama's stern reaction seen in the photo was not directed at her husband.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Working-age military retirees would see fewer dollars in their federal pensions and the Pentagon would get some long-sought stability in spending under Congress' budget deal.
Wed, 11 Dec 2013 21:23:52 -0500
NASA audit finds Google execs saved on jet fuel
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - An aircraft fleet owned by Google's founders and former CEO received improper discounts on jet fuel that saved the three billionaires up to $5.3 million dating back to depths of the Great Recession in 2009, according to a government report released Wednesday.
Wed, 11 Dec 2013 21:18:08 -0500
WASHINGTON (AP) - A teenage girl who survived the crash of an Asiana Airlines jet in San Francisco only to be fatally struck by a fire truck on the runway was actually run over by two rescue vehicles in the accident's chaotic aftermath, according to documents released Wednesday at a National Transportation Safety Board hearing.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate began an around-the-clock talkathon Wednesday over some of President Barack Obama's nominees as embittered and outnumbered Republicans refused to let the Senate take a break given new, Democratic-driven curbs on the GOP's power.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The pilot of the jet that crash-landed at San Francisco's airport last summer worried privately before takeoff about handling the Boeing 777, especially because runway construction meant he would have to land without any help from a common type of guidance system.
Wed, 11 Dec 2013 20:21:55 -0500
Black Supremacist Finally Out at DHS
Ayo Kimathi, the Department of Homeland Security employee who had an alter ego as a militant black supremacist, has finally left the agency, months after his radical moonlighting was outed.
Wed, 11 Dec 2013 12:52:14 -0500
The Republican Civil War Is Getting Bloodier
Glen Bolger, one of the Republican party's leading pollsters, told the Washington Post today that the Republican party needs to stop being the "dysfunctional equivalent of the Washington Redskins." The ongoing Republican soap opera between the so-called establishment and the emboldened conservative grassroots is even more chaotic than the latest drama between Mike Shanahan, Dan Snyder and RG3. Consider: Paul Ryan, the leading voice of fiscal conservatism in Congress, is getting pilloried by his own colleagues for acquiescing to a budget compromise that avoids the prospect of a politically-suicidal government shutdown next year. House Speaker John Boehner sounded downright exasperated today in reacting to conservative opposition to the deal, calling it "ridiculous." But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, already under fire from conservative groups for his propensity for deal-making, is reportedly against the budget compromise.
Wed, 11 Dec 2013 12:49:48 -0500
The Tea Party Has Already Won
Seven tea party challengers are running against Republican incumbents in next year's Senate primaries, and it's entirely possible that every last one of them will lose. But it doesn't really matter: The tea party has already won. Though the movement's candidates are underdogs in most of the 2014 contests against the Republican establishment, the mere fear of conservative challengers has the grassroots chalking up victory after victory on Capitol Hill. The tea party shut down the government over Obamacare, put immigration reform on life support, and is holding the farm bill hostage over food stamps.
Wed, 11 Dec 2013 06:26:10 -0500
2013: The Year We Learned Gun Reform Is Impossible
Nothing in 2013 matched the horror of Sandy Hook or Aurora, but the year proved to be a dispiriting one for gun-control crusaders hoping to capitalize on the intense outpouring of grief wrought by 2012's shooting massacres. After Newtown, President Obama gave an impassioned speech promising to do everything in his power to prevent "more tragedies like this." We'd watched these scenes of public mourning before-after Tucson, after Aurora-but it was different this time. Obama's bold declaration that "we are not doing enough and we will have to change" seemed more forceful than before. But once the National Rifle Association and others got a whiff of any serious threat to firearm freedoms, they moneyed up.
Wed, 11 Dec 2013 00:28:59 -0500
History Will Forget the Obamacare Website's Bungled Launch
National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru says Obamacare-like George W. Bush's Iraq War-should persuade Americans that "the grand designs of governments, left or right, can go wrong in many more ways than they can go right, than anyone can foresee, and than even the 'best and the brightest' ... can fix." It's not an original thought, it's not exclusive to conservative commentators, and it's not exactly news to the White House. From The New Republic to the West Wing, progressives are worried that-as TNR's John Judis put it-a failed Obamacare will "reinforce for a generation the argument against any government initiatives." It's the rollout of Medicare Part D in 2006.
Tue, 10 Dec 2013 12:38:16 -0500
Senate Poised for All-Nighter on Obama Nominations
Brace yourselves. The Senate might be in for another all-nighter, this time resulting from a fight over nominations. Senate Democrats and Republicans are at odds over nearly a dozen of President Obama's nominees, on which Republicans are threatening to delay votes in response to Senate...
Wed, 11 Dec 2013 19:41:19 -0500
The chief of staff to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has been placed on administrative leave due to allegations of child pornography, the senator said today. Law enforcement agents are searching the home of Ryan Loskarn, the chief of staff in Alexander's Washington, D.C., office, after...
The Paul Ryan-Patty Murray budget deal, reached Tuesday night, could help avert another government shutdown in Washington, but will airline passengers around the country have to pay for it? By eliminating $65 billion in across-the-board domestic and defense cuts, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013...
You may not know the name Todd Mills, but he was and forever will be a great American hero. The 41-year-old Arkansas resident passed away last week after a battle with brain cancer, but without him, Americans would have never known the deliciousness that is a taco cradled in a shell made of Doritos. In 2009, Mills had a brainstorm: Tacos with shells made out of Doritos. Even though he was just an average citizen, he pitched the idea to Frito-Lay ... and was rebuffed. "Thanks, but no thanks," his wife Ginger Mills told USA Today.
During his speech from San Francisco on Monday, President Obama was heckled by someone from an unexpected group: one of the people selected to stand onstage behind him. Near the end of Obama's speech, a man standing about five rows behind him interrupted the president to call for the president to sign an executive order ending the deportation of undocumented immigrants. For a brief period, the man and and others in the audience chanted, "Stop deportation! Yes, we can!" When Secret Service moved in to remove the protestor, Obama told them not to. Instead, the president - clearly miffed - explained why he couldn't unilaterally halt the deportation process.
The Cheneys don't see eye-to-eye on the issue of gay marriage. After Liz Cheney reiterated her opposition on the Sunday morning talk shows, her sister and her sister's partner took the Republican hopeful to the woodshed in separate Facebook posts. Liz Cheney, running for the Republican Senate primary in Wyoming, reminded the world how she opposes gay marriage during her Fox News Sunday appearance, despite the wishes of her sister, Mary Cheney, who is a lesbian with two children. "I love Mary very much, I love her family very much," Cheney said on Sunday morning.
Dylan Davies, the disgraced contractor at the center of 60 Minutes' retreat on its story about the terror attack in Benghazi last year, has gone into hiding. 60 Minutes's October 27 report, since withdrawn, centered on Davies' tale of his actions that night: his sneaking into an Al Qaeda-controlled hospital, his striking a terrorist in the head with the butt of his rifle.
Cuccinelli's Social Conservatism Didn't Align with Individual Rights
Yahoo asked Republican and conservative voters in New Jersey and Virginia to react to Tuesday's gubernatorial elections and tell us: What did voters learn about their party's strategies in these races that can be applied to 2014 and beyond? COMMENTARY | As a fiscal conservative and a long-time Republican voter who believes in individual rights and liberty, I was relieved to learn that Democrat Terry McAuliffe beat Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial race. Increasingly, the Republican Party is influenced by the tea party, which is controlled by religious fundamentalists. Cuccinelli is a sterling example of this religious domination, especially controlling a woman's body and depriving gays and lesbians of equal rights.
Wed, 06 Nov 2013 13:48:00 -0500
Virginia Governor's Race a True 'Unpopularity' Contest
Yahoo asked Republican and conservative voters in New Jersey and Virginia to react to Tuesday's gubernatorial elections and tell us: What did voters learn about their party's strategies in these races that can be applied to 2014 and beyond? COMMENTARY | As predicted, Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for Virginia's governor seat, was the winner in Tuesday night's election over the Republican Ken Cuccinelli. As a 31-year-old Northern Virginia resident, I'm proud that I've voted in every election since I turned 18. The most telling part of this election comes from a Quinnipiac survey done last week that showed this was an "unpopularity" contest;
Wed, 06 Nov 2013 13:48:00 -0500
Moving On After Virginia, and Where Republicans Go from Here
Yahoo asked Republican and conservative voters in New Jersey and Virginia to react to Tuesday's gubernatorial elections and tell us: What did voters learn about their party's strategies in these races that can be applied to 2014 and beyond? COMMENTARY | After what seemed like an interminable and negative campaign by both candidates for governor in Virginia, Terry McAullife, the Democrat, defeated Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican. I'm a registered Republican, but for the first time, I supported the Democratic candidate. They are losing us on both social and personal health issues, and Republicans keep endorsing candidates who are far to right wing to appeal to any kind of majority.
Wed, 06 Nov 2013 13:48:00 -0500
McAuliffe's Narrow Victory Over Cuccinelli More Worrisome for Democrats
COMMENTARY |Democrat Terry McAuliffe narrowly defeated Republican Ken Cuccinelli to become governor of Virginia. Political pundits have been saying that this race was a contest not just between two candidates but between the tea party and Obamacare, and between approval and disapproval of President Obama's policies. In fact, given that most Americans blame the Republican Party for the shut down, and the fact that McAuliffe overwhelmingly outspent Cuccinelli, $32 million to $20 million, in a bitter campaign filled with attack ads, what is surprising is that McAuliffe did not beat Cuccinelli by a larger number and percentage. Cuccinelli tried to make the election about Obamacare and the need for freedom of choice in health care in the last days of the campaign, while McAuliffe's campaign focused on ads that attacked Cuccinelli personally for his stances on social issues like abortion and marriage equality.
Wed, 06 Nov 2013 13:48:00 -0500
Christie's Win No Surprise, but What Does it Portend for His White House Run?
Yahoo asked Republican and conservative voters in New Jersey and Virginia to react to Tuesday's gubernatorial elections and tell us: What did voters learn about their party's strategies in these races that can be applied to 2014 and beyond? COMMENTARY | New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's landslide re-election is no surprise in a state that, despite an overwhelming Democratic majority, has a record of electing and re-electing Republican governors. Add Christie's hands-on leadership during and after Hurricane Sandy, bipartisan approach to pension reform, direct communication style, and unprecedented willingness to stand up to the state's powerful teachers union and the governor cast a shadow that Democratic State Sen. Barbara Buono couldn't possibly escape. Christie's reputation as a moderate Republican will serve him well as he faces a national electorate that seems equally tired of President Barack Obama and the tea party.
Wed, 06 Nov 2013 13:48:00 -0500
In Virginia, a Failure to Spend and Focus
Yahoo asked Republican and conservative voters in New Jersey and Virginia to react to Tuesday's gubernatorial elections and tell us: What did voters learn about their party's strategies in these races that can be applied to 2014 and beyond? COMMENTARY | Virginia's was a difficult election to watch. I think the Republican Party needs to take three key things from this race going forward: 1) You have to spend to win a critical state like Virginia.
Wed, 06 Nov 2013 13:48:00 -0500