Politics

Congress, diplomats celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday

The sounds of djembe drums and traditional African music filled the halls of the U.S. Capitol on Thursday as members of Congress, the diplomatic corps and the public ushered in a birthday celebration for former South African President Nelson Mandela. | 07/18/13 16:04:55 By - Ben Kamisar

Senate panel OKs Rep. Mel Watt to lead Fannie, Freddie

Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., overcame a difficult challenge to becoming the next head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency on Thursday when he was approved by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs in a 12-10 vote that was split along party lines. | 07/18/13 14:04:36 By - By Kevin Thibodeaux

Skeptical Congress turns its spycam on NSA surveillance

In an unusually critical oversight hearing Wednesday, lawmakers from both parties warned national security officials that they must change their use of sweeping National Security Agency surveillance programs or face losing the provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that have allowed for the agency’s mass collection of telephone metadata. | 07/17/13 20:03:46 By - By Ali Watkins

Revamping education act looms as another divisive test for Congress

The House of Representatives is expected to vote Friday on an overhaul of No Child Left Behind that would greatly reduce the federal government’s role in K-12 education. | 07/17/13 19:47:46 By - By Renee Schoof

Samantha Power causes no waves at confirmation hearing for U.N.

Samantha Power, known as a blunt critic of U.S. foreign policy, appeared subdued and deferential as she appeared before senators Wednesday seeking confirmation to succeed Susan Rice as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. | 07/17/13 19:20:34 By - By Hannah Allam

Congress weighs fixes to Voting Rights Act

Congress took the first step Wednesday toward trying to repair a vital section of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, a month after the Supreme Court ruled the provision unconstitutional. | 07/17/13 19:10:49 By - By William Douglas and Kate Irby

Boycott Sochi Olympics? Sen. Lindsey Graham’s idea not too sporting, athletes say

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., touched a nerve in athletes and Olympic officials alike Wednesday by floating the possibility of boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. | 07/17/13 18:40:42 By - By Ben Kamisar

GOP lawmakers voice concerns about Obamacare’s fraud protections

With open enrollment for the healthcare overhaul set to begin in less than three months, Obama administration officials faced tough questioning Wednesday from Republican lawmakers about the security of personal health information and the potential for fraud in the new insurance marketplaces. | 07/17/13 18:02:47 By - By Tony Pugh

Lawmakers try to break gridlock on Capitol Hill

While Congress continues to get mired in issues from immigration to food stamps and farm subsidies, a bipartisan group of 70 lawmakers is moving forward on its own. | 07/17/13 18:00:12 By - By James Rosen

Opposition rises to Janet Napolitano as next UC president

Objection is mounting to the nomination of Janet Napolitano as the next University of California president, with students and immigration activists planning to protest against her at Thursday's meeting of the governing Board of Regents in San Francisco. | 07/17/13 14:10:08 By - Laurel Rosenhall

Senate averts ‘nuclear option,’ confirms Richard Cordray for consumer agency

The Senate averted a showdown Tuesday over the fate of the filibuster as it confirmed President Barack Obama’s choice to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and moved to consider other key administration nominees. In exchange for acting on Richard Cordray, Democrats and the White House agreed to withdraw two National Labor Relations Board nominees who were recess appointments by Obama and replace them with new choices. | 07/16/13 19:14:10 By - By William Douglas and Lindsay Wise

GOP to Obama: If you can delay health care, so can we

Republicans will make another move Wednesday to damage the national health care law they derisively call Obamacare. This time, they’re being aided by the champion of the measure, President Barack Obama. With Obama’s recent move to postpone one part of the law as an opening, the Republican-ruled House of Representatives is expected to vote Wednesday to delay more key parts of the contentious measure before it can take full effect. | 07/16/13 17:04:16 By - By Anita Kumar

Global Hawk: The drone the Pentagon couldn’t ground

With spending reductions looming, Air Force officials looked for a program they could cut that was underperforming, had busted its budget and wasn’t vital to immediate combat needs. They settled on the production line for a $223 million drone aircraft known as the Global Hawk. Canceling its production and putting recently built models into storage would save $2.5 billion over five years, they projected. What happened next was an object lesson in the power of a defense contractor to trump the Pentagon’s own attempts to set spending priorities in a tough fiscal climate. | 07/16/13 14:52:54 By - By Richard H.P. Sia and Alexander Cohen

Obama hails George H.W. Bush, ‘Points of Light’

President George H.W. Bush started the “Points of Light” program in 1989 to hail ordinary Americans doing good work. On Monday, it was Bush’s turn to be hailed. | 07/15/13 18:59:23 By - By Lesley Clark

Obama administration weighs federal charges in Trayvon Martin slaying

President Barack Obama’s administration pledged Monday to continue a yearlong investigation into Trayvon Martin’s death and determine whether to file federal charges following a state jury’s acquittal of George Zimmerman. | 07/15/13 18:43:17 By - By Anita Kumar

Food stamps and the farm bill: What happens next?

House of Representatives Republicans passed a version of the long-delayed farm bill last week that upset the apple cart because it was missing a key political ingredient – the food stamp program. | 07/15/13 18:31:52 By - By Trevor Graff

Inside the immigration bill: Details, bureaucracy and pork

Inch your way through the Senate immigration bill and you’ll find special stuff for ski instructors, cruise line repairmen and Irish workers. You’ll see “committee’’ mentioned 152 times, and task forces cited 39 times. | 07/15/13 00:00:00 By - David Lightman and William Douglas

Napolitano leaving Homeland Security to head University of California

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, who was only the third person to head the sprawling department created to safeguard the country from threats ranging from natural disasters to terrorism, will leave the government to head the University of California system. | 07/12/13 18:22:56 By - By Lesley Clark

Sens. Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell gird for war over filibuster

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid moved closer Thursday to dramatically altering Senate rules in order to block the chamber’s Republican minority from filibustering President Barack Obama’s executive nominees. | 07/11/13 18:46:45 By - By William Douglas and Ali Watkins

House passes low-cal farm bill but sows seeds for a possible compromise

House of Representatives Republicans on Thursday rammed through a newly revised farm bill designed mostly to solve a vexing political problem that has divided their party and frustrated farmers nationwide. | 07/11/13 17:43:06 By - By Michael Doyle

Where’s the shame? Scandals may no longer end political careers

Sex. Drugs. Cheating on a spouse. Those words used to add up to shame. Put them in the same sentence as a politician’s name, and they ended careers. Not anymore. The latest batch of unlikely back-from-the-swamp hopefuls are Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer. | 07/11/13 16:29:22 By - By David Lightman

Stand with Texas Women bus tour draws crowd at Fort Worth stop

A crowd of more than 1,400 women’s advocates gathered in Fort Worth on Wednesday to take a stand for reproductive rights. “I want you to be angry and remember,” Davis said after referring to her filibuster, which helped stop a bill that would further regulate abortions. | 07/11/13 13:07:51 By - Diane Smith

Charles Koch launching Wichita campaign about economic freedom, government overreach

Charles Koch, who runs Koch Industries and contributes to political groups and campaigns, said he will launch a new campaign on Wednesday to laud economic freedom and warn the public about government overreach. He knows this means he will again draw fire from political critics. | 07/10/13 19:54:24 By - Roy Wenzl

Michelle Obama praises South Carolina exercise efforts

Michelle Obama congratulated dozens of local elected officials, including councilwomen from both Richland County and Columbia, at a White House ceremony Wednesday that celebrated healthy lifestyles. | 07/10/13 18:55:48 By - By Ben Kamisar

Student loan solution still stymies Senate

Under pressure to find a quick way to lower rates on federally subsidized student loans, Senate Democrats failed to extend a low rate for another year. | 07/10/13 20:18:28 By - By Renee Schoof

Miami Heat’s Ray Allen urges more diabetes research

The Miami Heat played 106 games in its 2013 season, ultimately going on to win the NBA championship in a thrilling 7-game series against the San Antonio Spurs. | 07/10/13 17:43:46 By - By Kevin Thibodeaux

House GOP fails to resolve party split over immigration

Republicans struggled without success Wednesday to find common ground over how to deal with the estimated 11 million immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. | 07/10/13 19:24:12 By - By David Lightman, Anita Kumar and William Douglas

Experts: Obama’s plan to predict future leakers unproven, unlikely to work

In an initiative aimed at rooting out future leakers and other security violators, President Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues based on behavioral profiling techniques that are not scientifically proven to work, according to experts and government documents. | 07/10/13 14:42:38 By - By Jonathan S. Landay and Marisa Taylor

Concealed-carry is law in Ill.: Senate and House override Gov.'s veto

Illinois now has a law allowing people to carry concealed weapons. The Illinois House and Senate both voted Tuesday to override Gov. Pat Quinn's amendatory veto of a concealed-carry bill -- a move that one legislator said should shame the governor. | 07/09/13 17:37:56 By - Brian Brueggemann

Yosemite plan to cut amenities draws GOP ire on Capitol Hill

Conservative lawmakers used harsh rhetoric Tuesday to denounce a Yosemite National Park plan that they say would exclude park visitors. | 07/09/13 16:51:35 By - By Michael Doyle

Senate questions FBI nominee Comey on torture, government surveillance

James B. Comey, picked by President Barack Obama to head the FBI, delivered a strong rebuke of waterboarding during his confirmation hearing Tuesday despite previously signing memos that approved the tactic during the George W. Bush administration. | 07/09/13 18:10:53 By - By Ben Kamisar

Perry decides not to seek another term as Texas governor

After guiding the state for more than a decade, Republican Gov. Rick Perry said Monday that it’s time to let someone else take the reins — potentially Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has made no secret of his desire to serve as Texas’ next governor — as he considers making a second bid at the White House. | 07/08/13 14:40:56 By - Anna M. Tinsley

U.S. immigration overhaul may wall off pathway from Africa, Caribbean

Supporters of the Diversity Visa Program say it opens pathways to the U.S. for underrepresented sub-Saharan African and Caribbean countries. Critics say it’s rampant with fraud in the application process. Now the program is in danger of being eliminated, as the Senate killed it in its recent immigration overhaul and a similar fate awaits it in the House of Representatives. | 07/05/13 14:27:50 By - By Ali Watkins

California convict gets another chance to escape death row

Richard L. Phillips has learned a lot about the law in the decades since a Madera County murder landed him on California’s death row. Now, with a nudge from the U.S. Supreme Court, the 63-year-old Phillips will try again to save his own life. In a case study of legal persistence, he’s secured another trial for part of a crime that occurred nearly 36 years ago. His murder conviction is not in question, but his future is. | 07/05/13 00:00:00 By - By Michael Doyle

U.S. reviews aid to Egypt, debates whether it was a coup

The United States will review – but not automatically cut off – the $1.5 billion in aid it sends to Egypt annually in the wake of the military ouster of President Mohammed Morsi and the suspension of the country’s constitution, President Barack Obama said Wednesday. | 07/03/13 20:23:09 By - By Lesley Clark and William Douglas

Gay marriage fight isn’t over in Congress

Though the U.S. Supreme Court struck a mortal blow to the Defense of Marriage Act last week, gay marriage is far from settled at the federal level, with lawmakers in Congress responding in very different ways. | 07/03/13 16:44:17 By - By Curtis Tate

Pressure to ‘Buy America’ surging

To John Garamendi, the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge set to open in September is a symbol of failed U.S. trade policy: a $6.3 billion project that used 43,000 tons of Chinese steel and produced thousands of jobs overseas. | 07/03/13 14:59:48 By - By Rob Hotakainen

Obama wraps up 3-nation, weeklong Africa trip

President Barack Obama wrapped up a weeklong visit to Africa on Tuesday, a tour overshadowed at times by the legacy of his predecessor and a political hero with a bid for his own mark on the continent. | 07/02/13 17:41:09 By - By Lesley Clark and Anita Kumar

Long the stuff of legend, filibuster might be in danger in Senate

Arcane but often effective, the filibuster is hot these days. But is it any way to run a government? The battle over the use – or abuse – of the filibuster in the U.S. Senate may come to a head this month as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., mulls changing the chamber’s rules to prevent Republicans from using the procedure to block President Barack Obama’s judicial and administration nominees. | 07/02/13 14:55:44 By - By William Douglas

Immigration votes will echo into 2014, 2016 elections

The nation’s immigration debate has become an epic struggle between two of the nation’s most potent political forces, the growing, crucial Latino vote and the well-funded, highly motivated conservative movement. It’s also caused a schism within the Republican Party, a divide with the potential to cause serious wounds. | 07/02/13 13:40:46 By - By David Lightman

Obama walks in George W. Bush’s footsteps in Africa

President Barack Obama often notes that he inherited a world full of problems from predecessor George W. Bush, from a Great Recession to unpopular wars. It’s not meant as a compliment to Bush. When it comes to Africa, though, Obama also inherited Bush’s policies. On that, he has little choice but to salute his predecessor. | 07/01/13 14:39:55 By - By Anita Kumar

Obama to Africa: you need to do more

President Barack Obama challenged Africa Sunday -- especially its young -- to build on the remarkable progress the continent has made by promoting democratic and honest government and a thriving middle class. | 06/30/13 17:22:02 By - By Anita Kumar

Same-sex spouses of veterans in most states may not receive equal benefits

This week’s Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage will mean that the same-sex spouses of active-duty military personnel can soon qualify for benefits their opposite-sex counterparts have long enjoyed. | 06/28/13 16:47:27 By - By Curtis Tate

Obama faces an Africa hostile to gay rights

As president, Barack Obama has endorsed same-sex marriage, repealed a military requirement that service members keep their sexual orientation secret and offered gay federal employees family leave. | 06/28/13 15:41:38 By - By Anita Kumar

Wendy Davis: From Fort Worth neighborhood leader to international media sensation

Sen. Wendy Davis was being showered with national and international media attention Wednesday in the wake of her filibuster that led to the defeat of a bill that would have shut down most of the abortion clinics in the state. | 06/27/13 19:12:43 By - Barry Shlacter

Watt faces Senate confirmation hearing on FHFA nomination

Congressman Mel Watt defended himself at a Senate confirmation hearing Thursday from accusations he’s unqualified to head the federal agency that oversees mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and signaled he supports moving the housing finance industry back toward the private sector. | 06/27/13 18:42:48 By - Ely Portilo

Recess! Student loan deadline will pass as Senate takes holiday break

The interest rate on subsidized federal student loans will rise from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent next week because the Senate has no plans to vote on the issue before a Monday deadline, the start of the July Fourth congressional recess. | 06/27/13 18:31:34 By - By Renee Schoof

Some effects of Supreme Court rulings felt at once, others take years

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia got it right. As the conservative jurist noted again this week, the court plants seeds with every decision, sometimes regardless of assurances to the contrary. And though the Supreme Court’s 2012 term ended with a flourish Wednesday, the 78 decisions issued since last October will shape the legal and political landscape for years to come. | 06/27/13 17:47:09 By - By Michael Doyle

Officials confirm different IRS treatment of conservatives, liberals

The Internal Revenue Service failed to subject liberal groups seeking tax-exempt status to the same rigid scrutiny as tea party groups and other conservative organizations, the agency’s acting chief and a Treasury Department inspector general confirmed Thursday. | 06/27/13 17:21:26 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Immigration overhaul in doubt after Senate vote

The Senate Thursday voted 68-32 to overhaul the nation’s immigration system, an ambitious plan that creates a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants while requiring tough new steps to secure the nation’s borders. | 06/27/13 18:53:52 By - By David Lightman

Senate approves Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx as DOT chief

The Senate unanimously confirmed Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Foxx on Thursday as the next U.S. transportation secretary. Foxx, who’s 42, will immediately confront safety and funding challenges in a large department that oversees the nation’s highway, transit, aviation and rail networks. Skeptics have questioned whether he brings enough heft to the job. But supporters admire his push for improvements to Charlotte’s airport, highways and transit systems. | 06/27/13 12:38:39 By - By Curtis Tate and Kevin Thibodeaux

FEMA increases aid to New Jersey for Sandy recovery

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will increase aid to New Jersey towns struck hard by Hurricane Sandy in October. | 06/26/13 18:33:37 By - By Ali Watkins

Uncertainty remains for same-sex couples in many states

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday to strike down the heart of the Defense of Marriage Act means that the federal government can grant a vast array of benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in at least a dozen states. The ruling still leaves decisions on who’s married and who isn’t to the states. That creates uncertainty for same-sex couples who married in one state but live in any of at least three dozen states that don’t recognize their marriages. | 06/26/13 18:31:45 By - By Curtis Tate

Forty-four years after Stonewall, ‘it’s a whole different world’

When the cops arrived to raid the Stonewall Inn on the night of June 27, 1969, David Velasco Bermudez headed for the exits, but he couldn’t make his way through the crowded bar before getting hit in the neck by a policewoman swinging a billy club. | 06/26/13 20:07:19 By - By Rob Hotakainen

Cheers, a few jeers on Supreme Court steps for same-sex rulings

Kris Perry and Sandra Stier, the lesbian couple at the heart of the Supreme Court Proposition 8 case, raised their joined hands high as they exited the court Wednesday morning, as hundreds who’d gathered outside erupted into cheers. | 06/26/13 17:25:03 By - By Kate Irby

Sen. Hagan says immigration bill will help N.C. economy and she’ll vote for it

Sen. Kay Hagan on Wednesday announced that she’ll vote for an immigration overhaul that provides a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, saying it will help North Carolina’s economy and strengthen the nation’s border security. | 06/26/13 17:21:54 By - By Renee Schoof

Uphill battle begins for Mel Watt’s nomination to head mortgage regulator

President Barack Obama’s pick to lead the federal agency that oversees mortgage finance faces an uphill battle Thursday at a Senate confirmation hearing. Many Republicans are happy with the current caretaker and worry that Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., will bring a social agenda to the post. | 06/26/13 16:33:31 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Same-sex marriage victory creates new challenges

The Supreme Court made history Wednesday with two victories for marriage equality, in California and nationwide. In a pair of highly anticipated decisions, the divided court effectively undercut California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage. Separately, the court struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies same-sex married couples federal benefits. Together, the rulings provide an emphatic, if incomplete, win for advocates of same-sex marriage. | 06/26/13 18:47:20 By - By Michael Doyle

Supreme Court strikes down key part of Defense of Marriage Act, dismisses Prop 8

The Supreme Court on Wednesday made history with two victories for marriage equality, both in California and nationwide. | 06/25/13 18:19:07 By - By Michael Doyle

After Supreme Court ruling on voting rights, now it’s Congress’ turn

A divided Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a centerpiece of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in a marked victory for Southern states and conservatives that also poses a steep challenge for Congress. | 06/25/13 19:05:36 By - By Michael Doyle and William Douglas

Rubio defends surveillance, predicts Senate will pass immigration bill

Sen. Marco Rubio on Tuesday defended the government’s aggressive surveillance of phone records and Internet use, saying the program has saved lives and Congress has sufficient oversight to prevent abuses. | 06/25/13 20:37:40 By - By James Rosen

Once ebullient, a now-disappointed Africa awaits Obama’s visit

Barack Obama shares his family roots and the color of his skin with much of the African continent. The result: Africans had enormous expectations when Obama was first elected. Yet he’s never expressed much of an interest in African policy. | 06/25/13 16:43:47 By - By Anita Kumar

White House lashes out at China over Snowden, presses Russia to expel him

A frustrated White House blasted China on Monday for allowing leaker Edward Snowden to depart Hong Kong for Russia, warning that the decision would have a detrimental effect on the already-tense relationship between Washington and Beijing. | 06/24/13 18:28:06 By - By Anita Kumar

Let’s tea party like it’s 2010? Probably not in Massachusetts this week

The tea party isn’t much of a factor in Tuesday’s Massachusetts Senate election, a stark contrast with 2010, when a similar contest jolted the nascent movement into national prominence. | 06/24/13 15:18:48 By - By David Lightman

Contractor responsible for Snowden’s security clearance investigated for inadequate background checks

The private company responsible for vetting Edward Snowden for a security clearance is under criminal investigation for systemic failure to adequately conduct background checks. | 06/20/13 18:57:16 By - By Lindsay Wise

Border deal improves chances of immigration bill in Senate

The chances of the Senate passing a comprehensive immigration bill improved dramatically Thursday after a bipartisan group of senators reached an agreement to double the number of Border Patrol agents and add 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. | 06/20/13 18:50:39 By - By William Douglas and Kevin Thibodeaux

House rejects farm bill – now what?

The fight to pass a five-year farm bill in the House of Representatives foundered Thursday in an embarrassing defeat for the Republican leadership that left no clear path for how to overcome the differences that caused its downfall. | 06/20/13 18:44:57 By - By Trevor Graff

Government could use metadata to map your every move

If you tweet a picture from your living room using your smartphone, you’re sharing far more than your new hairdo or the color of the wallpaper. You’re potentially revealing the exact coordinates of your house to anyone on the Internet. The GPS location information embedded in a digital photo is an example of so-called metadata, a once-obscure technical term that’s become one of Washington’s hottest new buzzwords. | 06/20/13 15:09:54 By - By Lindsay Wise and Jonathan S. Landay

FBI tells Congress it uses drones in U.S.

FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged Wednesday that the bureau has used unmanned aerial drones for surveillance in the United States and suggested that government needs to develop guidelines as their use grows. | 06/19/13 18:49:47 By - By William Douglas and Kevin Thibodeaux

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski backs same-sex marriage

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Wednesday she’s changed her views and now supports gay marriage, becoming the third Senate Republican to do so. | 06/19/13 16:25:21 By - By Sean Cockerham

Spy data disclosures show anew that executive branch holds all the cards

Disclosures about National Security Agency cyber-spying on millions of Americans vividly illustrates how the federal government’s check-and-balance system is out of balance. | 06/19/13 15:16:04 By - By David Lightman

Secrets piling up faster than government can declassify some

In the darkened stacks of a nondescript building in the suburbs outside Washington, dozens of federal employees wearing protective gloves spend day after day sifting through millions of pages of secret documents, some of them nearly a century old. The 70 staffers of the National Declassification Center are charged with deciding – anonymously and quietly – which of the nation’s old secrets can be laid bare for the world to see. | 06/19/13 12:44:40 By - By Anita Kumar

Idaho GOP seeks to halt cities' anti-discrimination ordinances

Maryanne Jordan said she's not worried - yet - that state lawmakers will undo city laws that protect homosexuals from discrimination. On the other hand, Boise's City Council president left no doubt how she felt about Idaho Republicans' resolution encouraging legislators to do just that. | 06/19/13 12:24:32 By - Sven Berg

NSA chief: Spying stopped 50 terrorist ‘events’

The director of the National Security Agency testified Tuesday that the government’s massive surveillance program helped thwart more than 50 terrorist “events” worldwide since Sept. 11, 2001, including a planned bombing of the New York Stock Exchange that involved a Kansas City man. | 06/18/13 17:06:27 By - By William Douglas and Ali Watkins

Farm bill is fertile ground for complaints

California dairy processors are still trying to squeeze a better deal from a big farm bill up for House debate this week. | 06/18/13 15:15:03 By - By Michael Doyle

IRS cases were referred to ‘Group 7822’

The Internal Revenue Service diverted applications for tax-exempt status from tea party and like-minded organizations to a special track known as Group 7822 for special scrutiny, according to transcripts of an interview by congressional interrogators with a key IRS official. | 06/18/13 18:33:37 By - By David Lightman and Kevin G. Hall

Dispute over Obama’s choices for D.C. court centers on need – and politics

A fight is brewing over President Barack Obama's efforts to fill three vacancies on a single federal court that Republicans claim doesn't do enough work to merit them. | 06/17/13 17:23:16 By - By Kate Irby

IRS scandal brings out more charges of political audits

If reports of political targeting of conservatives by the Internal Revenue Service shocked the nation, they didn’t seem that surprising to many other groups who experienced problems with the tax agency in the past. | 06/17/13 14:59:03 By - By Kevin G. Hall

As public concerns grow, Congress spooked over spying

The American people are growing increasingly concerned about reports of domestic spying. And Congress isn’t sure how to respond. | 06/14/13 16:19:49 By - By David Lightman

Alaska delegation suspicious of NSA data collection

Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska is cosponsoring a bill that would end secret interpretations of the Patriot Act, which enabled the National Security Agency to collect billions of phone records from Americans. | 06/14/13 17:23:14 By - By Kate Irby

U.S. says Syria used chemical weapons, will send military support to rebels

The U.S. will sendmilitary support to Syrian rebels after finding the Syrian regime used chemical weapons on the opposition “multiple times,” the White House said Thursday, escalating involvement in a civil war in which President Barack Obama has resisted military involvement. | 06/13/13 20:26:11 By - By Lesley Clark

With student loan rates about to double, lawmakers squabble

Student loan rates will double to 6.8 percent on July 1 if Congress doesn’t settle on a new plan soon, but disagreements flared Thursday, not only between the two parties, but between a veteran Democrat and President Barack Obama. | 06/13/13 19:31:46 By - By Renee Schoof and William Douglas

Feinstein will seek limits on who can see NSA spy data

The Senate intelligence committee chairman on Thursday vowed an effort to limit the access of government contract workers, such as Edward Snowden, to highly classified information. | 06/13/13 18:25:40 By - By William Douglas and David Lightman

Miami’s Leon Fresco: The immigration mover and shaker you don’t know

While Sen. Marco Rubio may be among the most prominent faces of the immigration battle in Washington, there is another Cuban-American from Miami who has been almost as critical to guiding the contentious proposal through the perils of Capitol Hill. | 06/13/13 16:51:11 By - By Franco Ordonez

Supreme Court rejects Texas effort to gain access to Oklahoma water

Oklahoma beat Texas at the Supreme Court on Thursday in a cross-border contest over water for the Fort Worth area. | 06/13/13 16:59:41 By - By Michael Doyle

Supreme Court rejects idea of patenting natural human genes

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that naturally occurring human genes may not be patented, potentially opening up commercial and scientific terrain to more freewheeling exploration. | 06/13/13 16:31:25 By - By Michael Doyle

Out-of-state spending likely swayed some state judge elections

Nonprofits and other interest groups spent more than $11.7 million in 10 high-profile state supreme court elections in 2012 and 2013, with more than a third of the money coming from outside state lines. | 06/13/13 06:00:00 By - By Alan Suderman and Ben Wieder

Congress urged to cut U.S. aid to Egypt over prison sentences given democracy advocates

Members of the House of Representatives said Wednesday that there is enough support in Congress to slow, if not halt entirely, economic aid to Egypt over that country’s conviction of 43 people who worked for non-governmental organizations that promote democracy. | 06/12/13 20:39:21 By - By Ali Watkins

Congress grills NSA chief Keith Alexander about spying

Increasingly uneasy senators subjected Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the National Security Agency, to a tough grilling Wednesday as congressional concern grew over his agency’s cybersnooping. | 06/12/13 19:03:05 By - By David Lightman

Calif. lawmakers press for immigrant benefits and more in defense bill

An immigrant’s military service could be a path to legal U.S. residency, if Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., gets his way. | 06/12/13 18:16:51 By - By Michael Doyle

McCaskill prevents promotion of Air Force woman general

Sen. Claire McCaskill feels so strongly about sexual assault reform in the U.S. armed forces that she is willing to effectively end the career of one of the few women generals in the U.S. Air Force. | 06/12/13 16:38:56 By - Zach Murdock

House members voice skepticism about surveillance programs after FBI, NSA briefing

Members of Congress on Tuesday expressed growing doubts about the way the country’s top-secret surveillance programs are managed, even as the top legislators from each party voiced confidence in the programs and showed little interest in a public discussion of the issue. | 06/11/13 20:43:21 By - By David Lightman, William Douglas and Kate Irby

As Senate immigration debate begins, special interests want Washington to hear their views

As the debate to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws kicks into high gear this week, immigrant advocates, members of law enforcement and leaders from major sectors of the North Carolina economy want to make sure their senators understand what’s important to them. | 06/11/13 17:06:13 By - By Franco Ordonez

Obama’s fundraising stop in Miami Beach is costly to local taxpayers

President Obama travels to Miami Beach on Wednesday to fundraise for the Democratic Party at a private event where donations could reach as high as $32,400 per person. | 06/11/13 14:00:27 By - Marc Caputo

Rubio: newly legalized need to be able to speak English

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio wants to make sure newly legalized immigrants can speak English. On Tuesday, he’s introducing an amendment to his own immigration bill to ensure those applying for permanent residency are proficient in English. | 06/11/13 12:45:32 By - Franco Ordonoz

Does 2014 hold another barnburner in North Carolina’s 7th District race for Congress?

The 2014 congressional elections are still 18 months away, but the politics are heating up in eastern North Carolina, where Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre edged into office last year by only about 650 votes. | 06/10/13 17:24:44 By - By Renee Schoof

Supreme Court: California raisin growers can challenge marketing rules

Dissident California raisin farmers harvested a Supreme Court win Monday, easing future legal challenges to the decades-old program that regulates the raisin marketplace. | 06/10/13 17:04:53 By - By Michael Doyle

Democrats hit the road to sell public on Obamacare

Three years after it passed, President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats are still trying to sell the federal health care law to a skeptical nation. | 06/10/13 16:23:48 By - By Anita Kumar

Phone record fury just one sign of how privacy is a thing of the past

Welcome to the new normal, the U.S. national security state that’s grown like mad since the 9/11 terrorist attacks nearly a dozen years ago. | 06/10/13 15:34:11 By - By Anita Kumar and Michael Doyle

Immigration overhaul may lead to demographic shift in America

The country may be on the verge of its next demographic metamorphosis. The explosive growth of Hispanics that upended the country’s black and white racial dynamics may be flipped again as leaders in Washington have begun a historic debate on the most far-reaching immigration overhaul in decades. The outcome might serve as a historic marker for a new wave of highly skilled immigrants – most likely from China and India – who may alter the racial and ethnic fabric of our cities and states for generations to come. | 06/10/13 15:32:08 By - By Franco Ordonez

Push for more California judges depends on passage of immigration overhaul

The Senate’s big immigration bill offers long-awaited reinforcements to the overworked federal judges in California’s Central Valley. | 06/09/13 00:00:00 By - By Michael Doyle and John Ellis

Spying hangs over U.S.-China summit

President Barack Obama and new Chinese President Xi Jinping opened two days of talks at a California retreat with joint calls for a new relationship, even as Obama said he’d continue pressing China on its human rights record and cyber security. | 06/08/13 00:42:33 By - By Lesley Clark

In setting limits of secrecy, Congress has taken a back seat

When Sen Ron Wyden, D-Ore., stepped to the Senate floor last December, he had something on his mind. He was disturbed by what he’d learned about the way the executive branch had used a section of the USA Patriot Act to collect records from millions of Americans’ phones. But he didn’t feel free to tell the American people what he knew. Congress prides itself on being the most open of the three branches of government, where business is conducted publicly and constituents are welcome to watch. But the phone records controversy shows that even among the elected representatives of the people, secrecy can overcome open discussions of public policy. | 06/07/13 19:11:23 By - By David Lightman and William Douglas

Michigan Democrat Dingell surpasses record for longest tenure in Congress

The day that John Dingell first stepped onto the floor of the House of Representatives, he faced a very different America. A woman named Rosa Parks had just been arrested, the name Emmett Till was in the news and a movie star named James Dean had just died in a car crash. | 06/07/13 18:20:22 By - By Ali Watkins

Obama on spying: I am not Big Brother

President Barack Obama offered a strong defense Friday of his administration’s newly disclosed programs to monitor phone and Internet activity, insisting that secret surveillance helps prevent terrorist attacks. | 06/07/13 17:28:05 By - By Anita Kumar

Senate expected to pass farm bill next week; House still has work to do

Californians score some wins, losses and split-decisions in the big Senate farm bill set for long-awaited approval Monday. | 06/07/13 16:46:47 By - By Michael Doyle

In wake of devastating factory collapse, U.S. senators press reforms in Bangladesh apparel industry

Key senators on Thursday urged the Obama administration and U.S. retail companies to press for change in Bangladesh’s apparel industry after an April building collapse killed more than 1,100 factory workers. | 06/06/13 18:18:04 By - By Ali Watkins

Mr. Obama, meet Mr. Xi; U.S.-China summit is personal

President Barack Obama and China’s new president, Xi Jinping, will meet Friday at a sprawling California retreat for two days of talks aimed as much at fostering a rapport between leaders of the two global superpowers as at reaching agreement on a variety of crucial issues. | 06/06/13 18:11:21 By - By Lesley Clark

Intelligence Director declassifies law to explain massive phone, Internet surveillance

President Barack Obama’s administration on Thursday defended a newly disclosed National Security Agency program that gathers telephone records of tens of millions of Verizon customers, authorized under a secret court order. | 06/06/13 23:36:09 By - By Anita Kumar and William Douglas

Progress slow in Gulf Coast oil cleanup as funding still uncertain

Three years after the infamous BP oil spill off the Gulf Coast, lawmakers are still trying to nail down the effectiveness of past, present and future relief efforts backed by billions of dollars. | 06/06/13 18:16:24 By - By Kate Irby

In the heartland, the gun issue is clear-cut, sort of

Phil Roe remembers the Friday night he heard a scratching on his apartment door. Someone had been casing the area for a couple weeks, and Roe sensed a stranger was about to break in. | 06/06/13 16:14:32 By - By David Lightman

Congress blasts spending on IRS conferences, spoof videos

A top official of the Internal Revenue Service – who played “Star Trek’s” Mr. Spock in an agency-funded spoof of the popular TV show – apologized Thursday for not being more careful with taxpayers’ money as beleaguered IRS officials endured a fresh grilling from a congressional committee. | 06/06/13 18:04:02 By - By David Lightman and Kevin G. Hall

Rep. Raul Labrador exits bipartisan House talks on immigration

Rep. Raul Labrador, one of Congress’s strongest conservative voices in the fight for an immigration overhaul, is walking away from bipartisan talks over disagreements on providing healthcare coverage to those in the United States illegally. | 06/05/13 20:53:46 By - By Franco Ordonez

Looming food-stamp cuts split Democrats, anger anti-hunger groups

Billions of dollars in funding cuts for food stamps, contained in bills moving through Congress, have split Democratic lawmakers and angered advocates for the poor, who criticize the cuts as heartless attempts to reduce the federal budget deficit. | 06/05/13 18:07:58 By - By James Rosen

Obama, champion Ravens mix it up; no harm, no foul, just jokes

In a welcome break from the political crises gripping his administration, President Barack Obama hosted the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens at the White House on Wednesday for a congratulatory ceremony on the South Lawn. | 06/05/13 17:24:56 By -

Groups tell of IRS abuse, Ways and Means chief promises to look at IRS employees

WASHINGTON Fueled by fresh, terse testimony Tuesday from conservative groups detailing intense IRS scrutiny, a powerful lawmaker with watchdog responsibility for the agency promised a relentless effort to get answers from officials at all levels of the Internal Revenue Service. | 06/04/13 17:58:04 By - By David Lightman and Kevin G. Hall

Obamacare nullification bill on S.C. Senate agenda

South Carolina this week could become the first state in the country to restrict the enactment of Obamacare since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that law last year. | 06/04/13 13:56:49 By - Adam Beam

Obama sets up clash with Republicans over court nominees

President Obama today announced his intention to nominate three judges to the nation's second highest court, accusing Republicans of blocking his selections for political reasons in remarks the White House pool report described as "fiery." | 06/04/13 12:36:14 By - By Lesley Clark

Senate, presidential powers collide in key case on recess appointments

The Supreme Court is expected to take up a groundbreaking separation-of-powers case later this month that features a constitutional clash between the president’s right to make recess appointments and the Senate’s authority to confirm high-level picks. | 06/03/13 23:06:11 By - By James Rosen

Boxer, with more women in Senate, pushes military to end sexual assaults

Sen. Barbara Boxer says she never imagined how long she’d have to keep fighting to protect women and men in uniform from sexual assault. | 06/01/13 00:00:00 By - By Curtis Tate

Obama urges Congress to stop hike in student-loan interest

President Barack Obama called on Congress Friday to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling to 6.8 percent, a move that many congressional Republicans denounced as a campaign stunt rather than an effort at real change. | 05/31/13 16:51:44 By - By Kate Irby

So far, sequester turns out to be tremors, not earthquake

Taken as a whole, the impact of the mandated across-the-board cuts “so far has been really teeny,” said Barry Anderson, deputy director of the National Governor’s Association. The U.S. economy is showing signs of improvement, with housing prices up, gasoline prices down and April’s 7.5 percent unemployment rate the lowest in four years. But as the sequester continues, more Americans are learning that even the teeniest change in Washington spending can have a big impact on their lives. From furloughed workers to shuttered federal offices to canceled White House tours and lighter entitlement checks, the reality of the sequester is hitting home. | 05/31/13 15:50:39 By - By William Douglas

Michele Bachmann’s record – hot rhetoric, few accomplishments

Michele Bachmann’s brief tenure in Congress gave her a forum for national attention and fame – | 05/29/13 18:05:18 By - By David Lightman and Trevor Graff

Michele Bachmann will not seek re-election in 2014

"I've never considered holding public office to be an occupation," she said in a video that lasts a little over eight and a half minutes. | 05/29/13 07:25:28 By - Julie Moos

Supreme Court widens opportunity for claims of ineffective counsel

A badly damaged Texas man who was sentenced to death for his part in a San Antonio-area gang rape and murder will get a second chance at mercy, under a divided Supreme Court ruling Tuesday. | 05/28/13 16:43:32 By - By Michael Doyle

Debate over guns will be back, supporters and critics say

The debate over guns isn’t over yet. | 05/28/13 14:45:52 By - By Anita Kumar and David Lightman

New IRS chief Danny Werfel goes from White House budget office to center stage

It’s a tall order straight from the president: Find anyone at the Internal Revenue Service who improperly targeted conservatives. Hold them responsible. Fix the system so it never happens again. | 05/28/13 06:22:04 By - By Renee Schoof

After failure on gun legislation, Obama learning limits of his power

Six months after his triumphant re-election, President Barack Obama has run into the hard reality of the modern presidency. | 05/24/13 15:33:49 By - By Anita Kumar

Did the Pentagon cry wolf over sequestration?

A funny thing happened on the way to a predicted disaster: The Pentagon is learning to live with the automatic budget cuts its leaders had warned would threaten national security if they took effect. | 05/24/13 19:05:02 By - By James Rosen

Scandal draws questions about IRS role in enforcing Obamacare

The blossoming IRS scandal over the targeting of conservative groups is provoking new scrutiny and terse questions about the agency’s role in shaping and implementing the controversial new national health care law, with the biggest changes set to begin next year. | 05/23/13 18:21:19 By - By Kevin G. Hall and David Lightman

Alaska Rep. Don Young, gone hunting in Africa, misses subcommittee oil hearing

When a key House of Representatives panel took up a bill this week that would require annual lease sales and streamline permitting in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, home state Rep. Don Young missed the session. | 05/23/13 17:48:18 By - By James Rosen McClatchy Washington Bureau

Obama administration targets reporters in crackdown on leaks

First, there was the news that the Justice Department had secretly seized telephone records of reporters at the Associated Press. A week later, reports that the department had investigated a Fox News reporter as a potential criminal for doing his job. | 05/23/13 15:44:40 By - By Anita Kumar

Obama speech suggests possible expansion of drone killings

President Barack Obama on Thursday defended his administration’s use of drone strikes to kill terrorists as effective, lawful and “heavily constrained,” but he also appeared to be laying groundwork for an expansion of the controversial targeted killings. | 05/23/13 19:38:13 By - By Lesley Clark and Jonathan S. Landay

Anthony Foxx coasts through hearing to take wheel at Transportation

Anthony Foxx avoided the controversy of other Capitol Hill hearings Wednesday, receiving a mostly warm reception from senators who considered his nomination to become transportation secretary. | 05/22/13 18:54:11 By - By Curtis Tate

Medical company declines to answer Senate questions on Medicare billing

The president and chief executive officer of a medical equipment company invoked the Fifth Amendment at Senate hearing Wednesday, declining to answer questions about aggressive marketing tactics used to sell scooters, sleep apnea machines and other home medical supplies to Medicare recipients who may not need or want them. | 05/22/13 18:01:07 By - By Lindsay Wise

IRS officials aren’t cooperating in probes at top or bottom

Internal Revenue Service officials are not fully cooperating with efforts to learn who is responsible for targeting conservative groups, lawmakers learned Wednesday during the third and most tense, dramatic hearing on the scandal. | 05/22/13 18:16:45 By - By Kevin G. Hall and David Lightman

As farm bill debate looms, Tarheel lawmakers gird for fight over tobacco

The U.S. Senate this week has started to fine-tune the huge, new five-year farm bill, working through votes on a series of amendments that will include a proposal to eliminate federal subsidies for tobacco insurance. | 05/21/13 18:56:22 By - By Renee Schoof

With Obama in the dark, administration planned how to stage-manage news of IRS scandal

The Obama administration’s timeline for who knew what and when about the Internal Revenue Service scandal changed again Tuesday with revelations that the Treasury Department and White House officials had discussed how to stage-manage the release of the explosive information. The latest revelation came as acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller told Congress that he’s responsible for the secretly planted question answered by subordinate Lois Lerner that triggered the scandal that’s now gripping the nation’s capital. | 05/21/13 20:31:58 By - By Kevin G. Hall and David Lightman

White House admits top Obama aides knew a month ago about IRS probe

The White House acknowledged Monday that senior aides to President Barack Obama knew a month ago that the Internal Revenue Service had targeted conservative groups, expanding on previous administration statements about who in the White House knew about the inquiry and when they knew about it. | 05/20/13 19:32:16 By - By Anita Kumar and Kevin G. Hall

Farmers hope immigration bill yields more foreign ag workers

Walk the aisles of any neighborhood grocery store today and you’re as likely to find tomatoes picked in Sinaloa, Mexico, as Central California or oranges from Sao Paulo, Brazil, as Bradenton, Fla. | 05/20/13 17:02:39 By - By Franco Ordonez

Treasury says U.S. can pay its bills for months, delaying debt ceiling fight

Any confrontation over the nation’s debt ceiling is now unlikely until after Labor Day. | 05/19/13 18:16:33 By - By David Lightman

Fired IRS chief clashes with Congress

The embattled and departing head of the IRS on Friday defended as proper the actions taken by IRS employees who selected for close scrutiny tea party groups and other conservative organizations. | 05/19/13 18:16:16 By - By Kevin G. Hall and William Douglas

Despite sequester, high-level federal executives slated to get bonuses

An elite group of federal employees is set to receive cash bonuses despite this year’s automatic budget cuts, according to a report that a Senate subcommittee issued Friday. | 05/17/13 18:18:35 By - By Lindsay Wise

Obama, lawmakers tackle military sexual assault

In a one-two punch from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue on Thursday, lawmakers introduced a sweeping revision to military sexual-assault law and the president summoned his uniformed service chiefs. The politically popular bill and the high-profile White House meeting underscore how recent cases and reports have rapidly turned combating military sexual assault into a bipartisan high priority. | 05/16/13 19:28:45 By - By Michael Doyle

In IRS scandal, why is any political group exempt from taxes?

The Internal Revenue Service is under fire for giving extra scrutiny to conservative organizations that asked for tax-exempt status. But the scandal begs a broader question: Why are political organizations getting this government subsidy anyway? | 05/16/13 16:59:58 By - By Kevin G. Hall and David Lightman

Hoe, hoe, hoe! Christmas trees are back, in new farm bill

A Christmas tree-promotion program that pumped up conservative mockery and panicked the Obama administration is back for a second go-around, under a new farm bill. | 05/16/13 16:41:22 By - By Michael Doyle

IRS scandal puts the caffeine back in tea party

Republicans think the Internal Revenue Service controversy is the magic weapon for beating up Democrats, because nothing resonates with the American public like potential IRS abuse. | 05/16/13 15:29:25 By - By David Lightman

Senate committee backs EPA nominee Gina McCarthy

After boycotting the same confirmation vote a week earlier, Republican senators agreed Thursday to show up for a committee vote on President Barack Obama’s pick to be the nation’s top air and water quality regulator. | 05/16/13 13:52:20 By - By Erika Bolstad

Multiple controversies suddenly plague Obama

The honeymoon, if there ever was one, is over. Four months into his second term, President Barack Obama finds himself under siege from members of both parties and the media for a series of crises that has stalled his policy priorities and threatened to engulf the second half of his presidency. | 05/16/13 13:24:23 By - By Anita Kumar and Steven Thomma

Obama fires IRS chief

Moving to quell a growing scandal, President Barack Obama on Wednesday fired the acting chief of the Internal Revenue Service and vowed to work closely with Congress in determining who ordered lower-level employees to target tea party groups and other conservative organizations. | 05/15/13 20:33:44 By - By Kevin G. Hall, David Lightman and Lesley Clark

Senate considers: If no one’s behind the wheel, who’s driving?

Cars that steer themselves through bumper-to-bumper traffic will hit the market by the end of this year, and self-parking vehicles aren’t far behind. Fully autonomous models that don’t need human drivers at all are less than a decade from dealerships. But laws lag behind the rise of the robo-car. At a Senate hearing Wednesday, lawmakers grappled with the policy implications and risks. | 05/15/13 18:52:31 By - By Lindsay Wise

Senate overwhelmingly approves water infrastructure bill

In a rare display of bipartisanship on major legislation, the Senate passed a bill Wednesday to move forward on a variety of water infrastructure projects throughout the country. | 05/15/13 17:49:35 By - By Curtis Tate

Benghazi emails show CIA deputy director did most of editing on talking points

President Barack Obama succumbed to days of withering criticism Wednesday, releasing dozens of emails in an effort to demonstrate that the White House did not try to cover up information about the September 2012 attacks on diplomatic facilities in Libya that killed four Americans. | 05/15/13 21:37:18 By - By Anita Kumar and Jonathan S. Landay

FBI starts criminal probe of IRS as report details unfair treatment

The Internal Revenue Service asked “unnecessary, burdensome questions” of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, questions that unfairly delayed the applications, according to an investigative report obtained by McClatchy. | 05/14/13 21:40:39 By - By Kevin G. Hall and David Lightman

House Republicans, White House look to change student loan rates

Republicans in the House of Representatives and President Barack Obama agree in general on what to do with student loan interest rates: Let them vary with the market. | 05/14/13 18:36:19 By - By Renee Schoof

IRS asked 'unnecessary, burdensome questions' of conservative groups

The IRS used inappropriate criteria to review applications for tax-exempt status by tea party groups and other conservative organizations, according to a copy of the report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration obtained by McClatchy late Tuesday. | 05/14/13 18:27:27 By - Kevin G. Hall

House farm bill has plenty for California growers

California lawmakers will now help plant another farm bill, hoping it will bear fruit for the state’s frustrated growers. | 05/14/13 16:59:21 By - By Michael Doyle

Kentucky activist to IRS: 'Apology not accepted'

In February 2012, conservative activist Eric Wilson of Georgetown began claiming in news releases that the IRS was delaying his group's application for special tax status by asking personal questions. | 05/13/13 19:07:06 By - Jack Brammer

Obama, Congress promise probe of IRS

Political Washington reacted with bipartisan outrage Monday to reports that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative organizations applying for special tax-exempt status – though questions have been raised about politics and tax status since at least 2006. | 05/13/13 22:57:44 By - By Kevin G. Hall, William Douglas and Lesley Clark

Rand Paul careful about where family resemblance begins and ends in Iowa

Rand Paul’s potential bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination is off to a promising start in the crucial state of Iowa, thanks in part to the fact that his father is Ron Paul. The family name opens important doors to networks of potential volunteers and contributors. It draws people to take a close look at a man who’s only in his first Senate term. But Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., ultimately has to make it on his own. And that won’t be easy. | 05/13/13 12:38:51 By - By David Lightman

Immigration debate attracts wide swath of lobbyists

Money has played a major role in the current drama to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, with millions of dollars spent in the past year trying to influence or kill various proposals that could affect a variety of special interests. | 05/13/13 00:00:00 By - By Franco Ordonez

For GOP House Whip Kevin McCarthy, the job is politics with a side of pizza

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is a genial man with a confounding job. | 05/12/13 00:00:00 By - By Michael Doyle and David Lightman

Rand Paul visits Iowa, triggers talk of 2016 White House bid

Sen. Rand Paul brought his national ambitions to Iowa on Friday, ripping potential Democratic rival Hillary Clinton while urging his own Republican Party to broaden its appeal as he campaigned like it was already 2016. | 05/11/13 09:46:52 By - By David Lightman

Obama aides scramble to defend edits to Benghazi talking points

The Obama administration insisted Friday that it acted in good faith and not to protect itself when it eliminated references to al Qaida and an allied group in talking points about the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. | 05/10/13 19:53:20 By - By Lesley Clark

Rep. Ellmers weighs campaign to take on Sen. Hagan

Republican U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers is mulling a bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in 2014, but has some obstacles to consider: a competitive primary field, attacks on her record and a so-far meager campaign war chest. | 05/10/13 16:06:58 By - By Renee Schoof

Republicans call for an inquiry into IRS' targeting of conservative groups

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. on Friday called for the White House to conduct a "transparent, government-wide review" after the IRS admitted that they scrutinized conservative groups during the 2012 election. | 05/10/13 14:38:38 By - Anita Kumar

Republican boycott stalls vote on EPA nominee Gina McCarthy

Republican senators on Thursday boycotted a scheduled committee vote on President Barack Obama’s pick to be the nation’s top air and water quality regulator, saying the Environmental Protection Agency hadn’t adequately answered questions about her role as a deputy there. | 05/09/13 17:28:57 By - By Erika Bolstad

Senator Durbin wants proof that BRAC actually saved money

A U.S. senator wants the Air Force to prove it saved money by closing bases due to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process. "Base closure commissions are supposed to take the politicians out of the process. I think they've replaced politicians with other politicians," said Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois. | 05/09/13 13:38:25 By - Jennifer Bowen

Senate begins debate on immigration bill

The Senate will begin a historic debate Thursday that could overhaul the nation’s immigration system. Senators will get their first crack at modifying or killing legislation proposed by a bipartisan group of eight colleagues. The so-called Gang of Eight introduced the measure in hopes of offering a long-elusive solution to the immigration problems that have plagued the nation for decades. It’s the first real effort in six years. The road ahead is full of political peril. | 05/08/13 17:33:14 By - By Franco Ordonez

In D.C. with a wish list, Merced County looks for help with roads, redevelopment and cops

Merced County officials lobbying Washington this week know, in theory, the secret of getting things done on Capitol Hill. | 05/08/13 15:30:36 By - By Michael Doyle

Hispanic leaders warn GOP not to block Thomas Perez as labor secretary

Hispanic lawmakers and community leaders warned Republicans on Tuesday about the consequences of blocking President Barack Obama’s nomination of Thomas Perez to be labor secretary. | 05/07/13 19:54:34 By - By James Rosen

Medicare fraud targets seniors, scooters: ‘I don’t need it. I don’t want it.’

Dr. Charlotte Kennedy first became suspicious when she received a fax from a medical supply company asking her to authorize a back brace for a 92-year-old patient. She’d recently examined the patient, who never mentioned any back problems. In fact, the woman was an avid gardener. Kennedy had stumbled on a problem that cost Medicare – and taxpayers – $27 billion over the past four years. | 05/07/13 16:14:34 By - By Lindsay Wise

Senate approves online sales tax; House support isn’t so certain

A bill that would authorize states to collect sales taxes for online purchases easily passed the Senate on Monday with bipartisan support, but it faces a tougher hurdle in the House of Representatives. | 05/06/13 19:19:44 By - By Lindsay Wise

In Costa Rica, Obama turns back to economy

Wrapping up a trip to Central America Saturday, President Barack Obama sought to put the focus firmly back on his top priority: the economy. | 05/04/13 16:31:54 By - By Anita Kumar

Sen. Lindsey Graham shifts support of Obama over national security

Sen. Lindsey Graham’s recent harsh criticism of President Barack Obama over national security is a marked change from the South Carolina Republican’s previous repeated praise of Obama’s performance. | 05/03/13 17:05:54 By - By James Rosen

Rep. Don Young turns to oil cash for his legal defense

Alaska Rep. Don Young is reaching into a legal defense fund bankrolled by a Louisiana oil field services company in order to pay lawyers to defend him in his latest ethics investigation. | 05/02/13 16:11:46 By -

Obama’s bid to squeeze Social Security enrages his core backers

Liberal groups angered by President Barack Obama’s proposed Social Security cuts say they’ll take a page from conservatives’ campaign playbook and work to oust Democratic lawmakers who go along with the plan. | 05/02/13 16:42:19 By - By James Rosen

Family of Commerce pick Penny Pritzker was pioneer in troubled mortgage securities

President Barack Obama’s choice to be the new secretary of commerce is a powerful Democratic fundraiser and hometown friend whose family’s role in a controversial bank failure might raise questions during her Senate confirmation. | 05/02/13 18:00:51 By - By Kevin G. Hall

Obama vows anew to close Guantanamo

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he’d redouble efforts on a failed first-term campaign promise to close the prison for terrorism suspects at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. | 04/30/13 20:25:48 By - By Anita Kumar

Lame duck? Obama says he still matters

President Barack Obama declared Tuesday that he’s still a force to be reckoned with, even as he faces a recalcitrant Congress, a stalled agenda, few options for containing civil war in Syria and new questions about U.S anti-terrorism efforts in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. | 04/30/13 18:23:31 By - By Lesley Clark

Obama welcomes transportation nominee Anthony Foxx

President Barack Obama nominated Charlotte, N.C., Mayor Anthony Foxx on Monday to be his next transportation secretary, choosing a rising star from his own party to follow a popular Republican skilled at working across the aisle. | 04/29/13 19:03:43 By - By Franco Ordonez, David Lightman and William Douglas

Obama's remarks nominating Anthony Foxx

Now, unfortunately for us but fortunately for them, Ray LaHood is now looking forward to spending more time with his wife Kathy and their family –- especially a whole gaggle of grandchildren. And so, today, I’m proud to announce my intent to nominate another impressive leader to carry on his great work at the Department of Transportation: the Mayor of Charlotte, my friend from North Carolina, Mr. Anthony Foxx. | 04/29/13 15:06:57 By -

Congress heads home for recess, leaving to-do list behind

Congress headed home this weekend for a nine-day break, leaving behind much of the trouble it was elected to help ease. | 04/26/13 17:19:54 By - By David Lightman

Todd Akin: 'I still regret my rape comments'

Former Missouri Congressman Todd Akin broke his post-election silence Thursday, telling a St. Louis TV station that he regrets his “legitimate rape” remarks that boosted the candidacy of Democrat Claire McCaskill. | 04/26/13 14:53:12 By - Steve Kraske

Congress moves to ease air travel delays, then heads for airport

Congress moved fast Friday to ease delays at airports around the nation triggered by furloughs of air traffic controllers, as the House of Representatives approved by 361-41 a budget fix designed to avert more trouble. | 04/26/13 16:17:01 By - By David Lightman and Curtis Tate

At White House correspondents’ dinner, D.C. is Hollywood East for a night

The White House Correspondents’ Association dinner this weekend has become an annual kind of prom for reporters, politicos and Washington insiders, who get to mingle with big names, starting with the president and first lady, and a lot of glitzy Hollywood stars. | 04/25/13 18:27:01 By - By Maria Recio

N.C. Rep. George Holding finding his way and not afraid to say ‘no’

George Holding promised voters he’d go to Washington to cut spending, and four months into the job, he hears pitches for what sound like good programs. | 04/25/13 18:08:31 By - By Renee Schoof

Pentagon’s budget cuts could slow F-35 program, Congress told

The on-time rollout of the F-35 fighter jet for its 2017 deadline could be in jeopardy as a result of forced federal budget cuts, testified a key military official to Congress on Wednesday. | 04/24/13 18:33:38 By - By Beena Raghavendran

Flight delays become real consequence of partisan gridlock

Politicians in Washington swapped accusations this week as anticipated mandatory spending cuts began to have their first noticeable impact on the nation’s air travel, with hundreds of flights delayed after airport personnel were forced to take unpaid days off. | 04/24/13 17:03:47 By - By Curtis Tate

Senate bill may require paying sales tax for more online purchases

Sarah Bagby’s 35-year-old independent bookstore so far has weathered the advent of Internet shopping and e-books. Now Bagby, the owner of Watermark Books & Cafe in Wichita, Kan., is closely following debate in Congress over a bill that she says would help her stay competitive with online retailers who are able to undercut her prices by not charging state or local sales taxes. | 04/23/13 17:25:43 By - By Lindsay Wise

Supreme Court justices tread murky waters in Texas-Oklahoma dispute

Supreme Court justices on Tuesday opened a floodgate of questions about a water dispute pitting Texas against Oklahoma, with the eventual outcome still in doubt. | 04/23/13 16:47:42 By - By Michael Doyle

Obama push against gun rights senators could backfire

“You’ve got to send the right people to Washington” to deal with gun control, President Barack Obama insists.In fact, the people voters send to Washington next year could prove to be Obama’s nightmare. | 04/23/13 16:19:53 By - By David Lightman

Obama to find new foreign-policy challenge in Mexico

On the eve of President Barack Obama’s trip to Mexico next week, the new government there looks to reboot a joint effort to combat violent drug traffickers, worries about piecemeal efforts in the United States to legalize marijuana and hopes to rebuild frayed relations with Cuba. | 04/22/13 16:37:56 By - By Kevin G. Hall and Hannah Allam

Mexican Foreign Secretary Jose Antonio Meade, in his own words

Excerpts from an interview with Mexico’s new foreign secretary, Jose Antonio Meade, in advance of a May 2 visit to Mexico City by President Barack Obama. McClatchy interviewed him in Washington. | 04/22/13 16:36:21 By - By Kevin G. Hall

‘Compromise is not a bad word,’ Bob Dole says as he reflects upon his time in politics

Bob Dole tries to go to work every day. On April 10, for this interview in his law firm office, he wore a crisp white shirt with a pen in his pocket and a blue necktie festooned with tiny American flags. Except for the alert eyes, he looked frail. He spoke slowly. But as the words came, it was clear it was the same Dole who ran for president in 1996, who ruled Republicans in the Senate for 11 years before that. | 04/22/13 13:36:11 By -

Could Boston suspects’ background impact immigration debate in Congress?

The two brothers suspected of being behind the explosions in Boston have been thrust into the immigration debate just as it is gaining steam in Washington. Some are using the bombing case as justification for holding off talks on overhauling the nation’s immigration laws. | 04/19/13 21:19:55 By - By Franco Ordonez

History, culture, mistrust combined to defeat gun control effort

Why is it so hard for even the most modest gun control effort to succeed? The easy answer is the power of the gun lobby, but the obstacles are far more complex. Growing numbers of people distrust Washington. A deeply rooted gun culture sees big government as a threat to its security, not to mention its constitutional rights. Members of Congress from conservative areas are well aware that votes on gun control, even in baby steps, are politically perilous. | 04/19/13 14:33:23 By - By David Lightman

Looming California water fight will test Rep. McClintock’s political sway

A politically difficult bill allowing the expansion of Lake McClure will now test whether Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., has learned how to move the levers of California water. | 04/18/13 19:14:32 By - Michael Doyle

Next in immigration debate: Sorting through the specifics

Now that the behemoth immigration bill pitched by the so-called Gang of Eight has been filed, activists – and their lawyers – on both sides of the issue have been poring over the 844-page document and uncovering concerns they want addressed. | 04/18/13 18:02:58 By - By Franco Ordonez

Sen. Dianne Feinstein defeated on assault weapons, but not done with gun control push

Sen. Dianne Feinstein had a lot of support in her push to renew a federal ban on assault weapons, including from law enforcement officials, hundreds of mayors and President Barack Obama. | 04/18/13 18:24:36 By - By Curtis Tate

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