WASHINGTON -- Differences over whether immigrants should be deported for fail
ing to have health insurance or pay their healthcare bills have stalled a bipartisan group of House lawmakers, who blew past a self-imposed Thursday deadline as they pressed forward on a sweeping immigration overhaul.
Negotiators emerged upbeat from a closed-door meeting in the Capitol and said they remained on track to produce a bill by June. That, in itself, was significant, after the group of eight was on the verge of breakup.
“We were all positive that we can move forward,” said Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, a top Republican leading the bipartisan effort.
House Republican leaders are increasingly concerned that momentum in the Senate, where a bipartisan immigration bill cleared a committee this week, will leave them on defense without their own proposal.
Trying to avoid that outcome, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) publicly drew a line Thursday by saying his chamber would not accept the...
WASHINGTON -- Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS office under fire for improperly targeting conservative groups, was replaced by the agency's acting commissioner on Thursday, a day after she insisted she had done nothing wrong and refused to answer questions before a congressional committee.
Lerner, who has been with the IRS for 12 years, was head of the IRS office of exempt organizations, the unit that is tasked with policing charities and other nonprofits that get tax-exempt status. She has been placed on administrative leave, according to a congressional source who asked not to be identified.
An inspector general’s audit found that staff in a Cincinnati field office used terms such as “tea party” and “patriots” to select applications for extra scrutiny. Congress is investigating the IRS' actions, and the FBI has begun a criminal investigation.
In an email to employees, IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel said he had chosen Ken Corbin as Lerner’s...
WASHINGTON -- Deputy Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan, a rising star in legal circles, won an easy and unanimous Senate confirmation Thursday to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, giving President Obama his first appointee to a conservative-leaning court that decides major regulatory disputes.
Srinivasan, 46, who was born in India, but grew up in Lawrence, Kan., was praised as being exceptionally smart, highly qualified and even-tempered. Unlike with other Obama nominees, Republicans said they had no hesitance in approving Srinivasan. And some Democrats raised the prospect that he could be a future nominee to the Supreme Court.
He won confirmation on a 97-0 vote.
“We may be seeing him coming before the Senate again soon,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Since graduating from Stanford Law School in 1995, Srinivasan has clerked at the Supreme Court for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, worked as a government attorney in both the Bush and Obama...
WASHINGTON -- Under pressure from Congress and international allies, President Obama announced a change in what has been a central piece of his counter-terrorism strategy, saying he will place new restrictions on the targeting of terrorists with missiles fired from drones.
In a speech that took stock of America’s long battle with Al Qaeda, the president said he would continue ordering lethal drone strikes to stop potential terrorist attacks because the relative precision of drone warfare is preferable to major troop deployments or traditional bombing.
But a newly codified rule book, administration officials said, would hold U.S. authorities to a tougher standard when deciding whom to kill, where, and under what circumstances.
Under the new policy, strikes will be authorized only against militants who pose “a continuing, imminent threat,” aides said, instead of “a significant threat,” which had been the previous standard.
WASHINGTON -- More than 100 conservative economists will call on Congress to approve an immigration overhaul, highlighting the potential economic benefits.
The letter by the American Action Forum, to be released Thursday, is the latest volley from conservative economic thinkers, who have been divided on the immigration overhaul legislation making its way through the Senate.
“Immigration reform’s positive impact on population growth, labor force growth, housing, and other markets will lead to more rapid economic growth,” wrote the economists, including Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the foundation’s president, who is a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and a former advisor to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). “This, in turn, translates into a positive impact on the federal budget.
WASHINGTON — A top Internal Revenue Service official invoked the 5th Amendment and declined to testify Wednesday before a House committee investigating the agency’s mishandling of applications by some conservative groups for tax-exempt status.
Lois Lerner, director of the IRS’ exempt organizations unit, spoke deliberately and crisply in her opening remarks to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the first time she has appeared before Congress since she revealed earlier this month that the division she oversaw inappropriately screened and questioned tea party and other groups seeking nonprofit status.
“I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws,” Lerner said. “I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided any false information to this or any other congressional committee.”
WASHINGTON — A sweeping bipartisan plan to overhaul the nation’s immigration system headed to the Senate floor after a key committee approved it Tuesday, but not before tilting the bill to the political right with amendments designed to attract more Republican support.
The centerpiece of the legislation — a 13-year path to citizenship for many of the 11 million people now without legal status — survived intact, setting the stage for what could be the biggest victory in a generation for advocates of immigrant rights.
The vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee was 13-5, boosted by a last-minute deal to increase access to high-tech visas. That change won the support of a Republican senator beyond the two on the committee who had helped draft the bill. All Democrats voted in favor.
Foes of legalizing immigrants already in the country, once the most prominent voices in the immigration debate, are largely losing that battle, as many Republicans decided early on to...
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that he will delay votes on several of President Obama’s nominees for key posts until July, a decision raising the prospect that he’ll seek further changes to Senate rules that would allow executive appointments to be confirmed by a simple majority.
Senate leaders had considered holding a vote this week to confirm Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a nomination Republicans have maintained they would filibuster unless the Obama administration agreed to overhaul the agency.
Action is also pending on two of Obama’s Cabinet nominations — Thomas E. Perez for Labor secretary and Gina McCarthy for EPA administrator — after party-line votes in Senate committees last week. Two other Cabinet picks face confirmation hearings later this week.
At his weekly news conference, Reid told reporters that he would not bring those nominations to the full Senate until after it...
WASHINGTON – Global warming and clean energy should be priorities for Congress and the president, a majority of Americans said in a recent survey.
In the survey, released Tuesday by Yale and George Mason universities, 70% of American adults say global warming should be a priority for the nation’s leaders, while 87% say leaders should make it a priority to develop sources of clean energy. Those support levels have dropped by 7% and 5% respectively since fall.
Six in 10 Americans want the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions regardless of other countries’ emissions efforts, according to the survey. Only 6% say the U.S. should not reduce its greenhouse emissions.
The study also shows only half of Americans have heard of the Keystone XL pipeline. Among those who have heard of the pipeline, 63% support the project. The study also shows 58% of Americans support expanded drilling for oil and natural gas off the U.S. coast.
WASHINGTON — A top IRS official in the division that reviews nonprofit groups will invoke the 5th Amendment and refuse to answer questions before a House committee investigating the agency’s improper screening of conservative nonprofit groups.
Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division of the IRS, won’t answer questions about what she knew about the improper screening — or why she didn’t disclose it to Congress, according to a letter from her defense lawyer, William W. Taylor III. Lerner was scheduled to appear before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
“She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course,” said a letter by Taylor to committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Vista). The letter, sent Monday, was obtained Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times.
WASHINGTON -- President Obama met Tuesday with young immigrants and others who expressed their fear that family members will be deported and their hope that Congress will pass new immigration laws to keep families intact.
Obama urged the group to share their stories on Capitol Hill as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepared to send an immigration overhaul bill to the full Senate for consideration.
Mehdi Mahraoui, who was born in Morocco and came to America when he was 7, told Obama he worries that his parents and eldest sister will be deported. He is a legal permanent resident and his 8-year-old sister is a U.S. citizen, but the other family members are not.
If his parents are forced to leave, he would become sole caretaker of his little sister, he told reporters after meeting with the president.