Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) has the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in his primary race for the Senate.

Establishment bites back: Chamber fights tea party in Senate races

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce jumped into two key Senate races this week -- another clear signal that the GOP establishment will try to stop tea party candidates from winning primaries as Republicans try to wrest control of the Senate from Democrats.

The chamber announced its support Thursday for Jack Kingston, the Republican congressman who is trying to emerge from a packed field of hard-right contenders in next month's Georgia primary for an open seat.

Republicans have openly worried that a tea party-aligned candidate could be too extreme for most of the voters in the state. Demographics there are tilting toward blue, giving the likely Democratic nominee, Michelle Nunn, a potential shot at the seat. Nunn posted a  strong first-quarter fundraising haul this week.

"Now more than ever we need conservative leaders with a demonstrated record," Rob Engstrom, the chamber's national political director, said in making the announcement.

Earlier this week, the chamber dived into...


Chelsea Clinton announces she is pregnant

Hillary Clinton has made no secret of her desire to be a grandmother and that wish has finally come true -- with Chelsea Clinton announcing at a Clinton Foundation event Thursday that she and her husband are expecting a baby this year.

"Marc and I are very excited that we have our first child arriving later this year," Chelsea Clinton said to cheers before an audience of young women at the Lower Eastside Girls Club in New York City on Thursday afternoon. “And I certainly feel all the better, whether it's a girl or a boy, that she or he will grow up in a world full of so many strong, young female leaders. So thank you for inspiring me and inspiring future generations, including the one that we'll be lucky enough to welcome into our family later this year.”

Chelsea Clinton made the announcement while seated next to her mother at an event for the Clinton Foundation initiative known as No Ceilings, which is focused on helping young girls and women succeed. Moderator America...

President Obama, speaking in the White House on Thursday, announced that 8 million people have signed up for health insurance through the online marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act.

Eight million people signed up for healthcare, Obama announces

WASHINGTON — Driven by a last-minute flood of enrollments, particularly in California, sign-ups for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s online marketplaces hit 8 million in the law’s first year, President Obama announced Thursday.

That beats the forecast by 1 million people and caps a remarkable comeback from a disastrous rollout last fall that gave rise to predictions the law would collapse in its maiden year.

Instead, the health law, often called Obamacare, has helped bring about the largest increase in insurance coverage in the U.S. in half a century.

“This thing is working,” Obama said from the White House briefing room, taking a jab at Republican critics who continue to pledge to roll back the law. “The repeal debate is, and should be, over.”

California alone signed up more than 200,000 consumers for coverage in the last two weeks, the state announced Thursday, bringing the state's first-year total to nearly 1.4 million...

President Obama walks with Sylvia Mathews Burwell, left, whom he has nominated as secretary of Health and Human Services, and Kathleen Sebelius, who is stepping down from that post.

Health insurance gains since last fall hit 12 million, survey shows

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s health law has led to an even greater increase in health coverage than previously estimated, according to new Gallup survey data, which suggest that about 12 million previously uninsured Americans have gained coverage since last fall.

That is millions more than Gallup found in March and suggests that as many as 4 million people signed up for some kind of insurance in the last several weeks as the first enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act drew to a close.

Just 12.9% of adults nationally lacked coverage in the first half of April, initial data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index indicates, the lowest rate since the survey began in 2008.

Eighteen percent were uninsured in the third quarter of 2013, just before Americans could start shopping for coverage on the new online marketplaces created by the law.

Gallup pollsters cautioned that the data are preliminary, but said it is increasingly clear the health law is responsonible for...


Louisiana Democrat highlights independence from Obama in new ad

When Sen. Mary L. Landrieu assumed the chairmanship of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee this year, it was a major boon to her difficult reelection campaign—placing her in a prominent position to aid her state’s oil and gas industry and strengthening her argument to voters that her seniority is an asset.

A new television ad released by Landrieu on Tuesday hammers that point, reintroducing the three-term Democrat as holding “the most powerful position in the Senate for Louisiana” and demonstrating her independence from the Obama administration—a recurrent theme in her red-state campaign where President Obama has cast a long shadow.

Simultaneously distancing Landrieu from Washington while touting the benefits of her tenure in the Senate, the ad’s narrator argues that she “forced Washington to respect Louisiana.”

“The administration’s policies are simply wrong when it comes to oil and gas production in...

President Obama commuted a sentence Tuesday after a typographical error lengthened the penalty by 3 1/2 years.

Obama grants clemency to correct a sentence extended by a court typo

WASHINGTON -- President Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentence of a drug convict, correcting a mistake that had extended his prison time by more than three years and could not be fixed by the courts.

Ceasar Huerta Cantu was sentenced to 15 years of incarceration after pleading guilty in 2006 to money laundering and trafficking marijuana. But because of a typographical error in Cantu’s presentence report, the 180-month punishment reflected a greater penalty than called for under U.S. sentencing guidelines.

A federal judge acknowledged the numerical error but denied a motion to correct it in March 2013 because a one-year statute of limitations had expired, according to a court opinion.

“A judge ruled that Mr. Cantu did not discover this error in time to correct it through any judicial means,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. “As a result, it can now only be rectified through clemency. The president thought it was the right thing to do to commute his...

House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio speaking during a news conference on Capitol Hill on March 26.

Immigration activists push House GOP in last-ditch campaign for vote

WASHINGTON -- In a last-ditch effort to bring an immigration overhaul to a vote in Congress, House Democrats on Tuesday began targeting key GOP lawmakers in hopes of pressuring House Speaker John A. Boehner to act.

The election-year campaign against 30 House Republicans, who have expressed interest in changing the nation's immigration laws, was framed by Democrats as one last opportunity to engage in a legislative debate before President Obama begins taking executive actions.

The administration has indicated it plans to halt strict enforcement of some immigration laws, including deportations that separate families, if Congress fails to act. Obama met Tuesday with faith leaders as protesters continued their second week of vigil in front of the White House.

"The president's going to be forced to act," said Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.), a chief sponsor of a bipartisan bill that has sat idle in the House.

Boehner has tried to nudge the Republican majority to consider immigration reform, but...

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy earlier this month at a panel on reducing greenhouse gases.

U.S. appeals court upholds Obama administration limits on air toxics

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s first-ever limits on air toxics, including emissions of mercury, arsenic and acid gases, preserving a far-reaching rule the White House had touted as central to President Obama’s environmental agenda.

In a 2-to-1 decision, the court ruled that the mercury rule “was substantively and procedurally valid,” turning aside challenges brought both by Republican-led states that had argued the rule was onerous and environmental groups that had contended it did not go far enough.

The EPA welcomed the decision, calling it “a victory for public health and the environment.” Liz Purchia, an agency spokeswoman, said, “These practical and cost-effective standards will save thousands of lives each year, prevent heart and asthma attacks, while slashing emissions of the neurotoxin mercury, which can impair children’s...

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Hawaii governor apologizes for questioning Inouye death-bed drama

Four days after questioning a death-bed letter at the center of Hawaii’s heated U.S. Senate race, Gov. Neil Abercrombie apologized to the widow of its ascribed author, the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, and others he offended. But he stuck to his key assertion Inouye told him the choice of a successor was his alone to make.

"I apologize to the late Sen. Inouye, his wife, Irene, his family, friends, and former staff for the comments I made concerning the letter," Abercrombie said in a statement issued late Monday. "I regret that my comments were interpreted as hurtful and disrespectful to them. That was certainly not my intent. Sen. Inouye was, without a doubt, one of the finest leaders in Hawaii's history, and a mentor to me.”

 Under Hawaii law, Abercrombie had the choice of three candidates to succeed Inouye, a fellow Democrat, who died unexpectedly in December 2012. He spurned Inouye’s favored successor, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, and selected his lieutenant governor, Brian...


Obama: Religious intolerance has 'no place in our society'

WASHINGTON -- President Obama on Monday called on Americans to stand up against religious bigotry as he offered his support to the families of those killed in shootings at two Jewish community centers in the Kansas City area.

“Nobody should have to worry about their security when gathering with their fellow believers,” Obama told religious leaders at the White House for the annual Easter prayer breakfast. “No one should ever have to fear for their safety when they go to pray. And as a government, we're going to provide whatever assistance is needed to support the investigation.”

Obama noted that he had a connection to two of the victims. A teenager and his grandfather, shot in a parking lot behind the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, attended the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, Obamasaid. That church’s pastor, Rev. Adam Hamilton, delivered the sermon at the prayer service at the National Cathedral marking Obama’s second...

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Sebelius praises Obamacare, concedes rollout was botched

WASHINGTON -- Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Sunday that the health insurance exchanges that are now up and running across the country have given uninsured Americans a true choice of insurance plans with price comparisons.

“People have competitive choices and real information for the first time ever in this insurance market,” Sebelius said in an interview on NBC's "Meet The Press."

Before, she said, “individuals were really on their own” if they did not have insurance through an employer or the government. “If you were healthy and wealthy, you could get coverage,” she said, but not so if you were sick or struggling economically.

Sebelius, who resigned last week, conceded that her department had botched the rollout of the insurance exchanges at the beginning of October.

“If I had a magic wand, I’d go back to mid-September” and ask more probing questions, she said. “I thought I was getting...