May 17, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - President Obama said Friday he wanted to put more Americans to work by slashing the amount of time it takes to grant federal approval for big job-creating projects. But Obama's choice of venue for his remarks - a Baltimore company that makes mining and pumping equipment - provided fodder for Republicans. They noted that the company president had, just the day before, testified on Capitol Hill in support of the Keystone XL pipeline, which the Obama administration has delayed for years over environmental concerns.
May 16, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - President Obama's nominee to lead the Energy Department won unanimous confirmation by the Senate on Thursday while two other Cabinet choices narrowly advanced out of committee, amid complaints from Democrats over Republican delaying tactics. Ernest J. Moniz, an MIT physics professor who becomes the new Energy secretary, is the fifth Cabinet appointment confirmed since Obama won a second term, and the first without any Republican dissent. By comparison, all but one of President George W. Bush's 11 initial second-term appointments were confirmed by the end of April, even though his party held no more Senate seats than Democrats control now. Republicans had delayed consideration of Thomas E. Perez, Obama's choice to lead the Labor Department, and Environmental Protection Agency nominee Gina McCarthy before Thursday's party-line committee votes to recommend them to the full Senate.
May 15, 2013 |
In requiring the U.S. Senate to confirm presidential appointments, the Constitution aims to ensure a second level of scrutiny of the qualifications of government officials. But Senate Republicans have hijacked the confirmation process, not only to thwart individual nominees but to undermine laws they don't agree with. If they continue in their obstructionism, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) should revisit the possibility of doing away with the filibuster for nominations. The most immediate test case involves the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that moderates disputes between labor and management.
May 14, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The federal deficit is shrinking more quickly than expected, and the government's long-term debt has largely stabilized for the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday in a report that could strengthen the Obama administration's hand in the budget battles with congressional Republicans. The budget office continues to say the federal government faces a long-range budget problem - mostly caused by the costs of an aging population - but its new forecast pushes the crunch point for that problem off into a considerably more distant future: well after the 2020 presidential election.
May 13, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Top career officials in the Internal Revenue Service withheld information from Congress for months about the tax agency's targeting of conservative organizations for extra scrutiny, according to documents released Monday as a controversy involving alleged political bias in tax enforcement gathered strength. Members of Congress called for firing the agency's acting commissioner, one of the senior officials involved, and President Obama said he would "not tolerate" any such abuse of power by the IRS. "If you've got the IRS operating in anything less than a neutral and nonpartisan way, then that is outrageous; it's contrary to our traditions.
May 11, 2013 |
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - If he runs for president, says Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), he wants to be considered on his own merits. But when he brought his fledgling campaign to Iowa this weekend, there was no escaping the double-edged legacy of the man he's almost always compared with - his father. Until recently, Ron Paul, the former Republican congressman from Texas, still largely overshadowed his son. Then came Sen. Paul's filibuster in March over the Obama administration's use of drones.