Political News from Yahoo

House Republicans voice support for $1.1 trillion spending bill

By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in the House of Representatives voiced tentative support on Tuesday for a $1.1 trillion spending bill, signaling likely passage and removing one source of potential drama ahead of the 2014 elections. Enactment will eliminate the threat of another government shutdown like the 16-day standoff in October that dropped public opinion of Congress to new depths in polls. The bill adds funding for some Democratic priorities such as a $1 billion increase the Head Start pre-school education program for the poor, but Republicans scored a victory when negotiators denied a funding increase for implementation of "Obamacare" health insurance reforms. Republicans also succeeded in denying funds for high-speed rail projects and for International Monetary Fund reforms.

Alaska GOP senator urges Obama to lift ban on U.S. oil exports

Senator Lisa Murkowski urged President Barack Obama on Tuesday to lift a ban on exporting U.S.-produced crude oil, stepping up pressure on the administration to allow producers involved in the domestic energy boom to gain access to global markets. "Lifting the ban will help create jobs, boost the economy and keep our production at record levels," Murkowski, from Alaska and the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a letter to Obama. While U.S. energy companies are allowed to export oil products, including gasoline and jet fuel, a presidential waiver from current laws is required to sell most unrefined crude abroad. "While I believe you retain the executive authority necessary to lift the ban on crude oil exports, if you need legislative support from the Congress in order to do so, you will always have a willing partner from Alaska," Murkowski said in the letter to Obama.

U.S. spending bill restores aid to Egypt, includes $1.5 billion

By Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Congress' new spending bill would restore more than $1.5 billion in military and economic aid to Egypt, which had been largely cut off after Egypt's military ousted President Mohamed Mursi last summer. The bill includes up to $1.3 billion in military assistance, and $250 million in economic support for Cairo, but ties the funding to the Egyptian government taking steps toward restoring democracy. The funds also would only be available if the U.S. Secretary of State certifies to congressional appropriations committees that the Cairo government is sustaining its strategic relationship with the United States and meeting its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty. The restoration of aid to Egypt could set a precedent for assistance to any country after a coup, despite differences of opinion between Mursi's supporters and Egypt's current government over what to call the military takeover.

Christie to address scandal in speech, aide says

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Faced with a widening political scandal that threatens to undermine his second term and a possible 2016 presidential run, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will address the issue in his State of the State address Tuesday and say that it won't stop him from pursuing his agenda, according to an aide.

Aide says Christie to address scandal in speech

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Faced with a widening political scandal that threatens to undermine his second term and a possible 2016 presidential run, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will address the issue in his State of the State address Tuesday and say that it won't stop him from pursuing his agenda, according to an aide.

Obama: Won't wait for legislation to advance 2014 priorities

President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he would not wait for Congress to pass legislation to advance his policy priorities this year and said he was "getting close" to finishing a review of U.S. surveillance practices - to be unveiled on Friday. Obama, speaking to reporters during a cabinet meeting at the White House, foreshadowed his upcoming State of the Union address and what appeared to be a new messaging strategy by emphasizing his ability to take executive actions without approval from lawmakers. And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions ... and I've got a phone that allows me to convene Americans from every walk of life," he said.

Obama says he will focus on executive actions

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama predicts Congress will be busy this year debating a renewal of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and an immigration overhaul. But he says he wants his Cabinet also to focus on executive actions that don't require legislation.

Senators ask Target CEO for information on data breach

Two key U.S. senators have written to Gregg Steinhafel, chief executive officer of Target Corp, seeking "detailed information" on the hacking of credit and debit cards of millions of customers during the holiday shopping season. "We ask that Target's information-security officials provide a briefing to committee staff regarding your company's investigation and latest findings," John Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Claire McCaskill, chair of the Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection, wrote to Steinhafel in a letter dated January 10 and released on Tuesday. Target's recent incident shows the need for federal legislation on commercial data practices, the senators said.

Boehner: Need better enforcement of safety rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner is suggesting that the Obama administration needs to do a better job of enforcing safety regulations designed to protect the public against disasters like the chemical spill into West Virginia's drinking water supply.

Kerry visits papal diplomat to talk Mideast peace

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Intrigued by signals of an invigorated papal diplomacy, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry enlisted a new ally Tuesday in his push for Mideast peace in what he described as a "common enterprise" between America and the Holy See.

South Carolina lawmakers take aim at healthcare law

By Harriet McLeod CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - South Carolina lawmakers say they have found a way to stop implementation of the U.S. Affordable Care Act in their state, an effort that could provide a template for other Republican-led legislatures looking to derail the federal program. The proposed measure would ban state agencies from helping carry out President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform law and prevent federal money flowing through state coffers from being spent on it, said Republican state Senator Tom Davis. The legislation would give South Carolina oversight of insurance rates offered through its federal exchange and require healthcare navigators, which help people sign up for the healthcare benefits, to be licensed by the state, said Davis, who chairs the committee drafting the measure. "Even though the federal government may pass a law, and even though that law may be constitutional, that doesn't mean that the federal government can direct the state to spend state dollars to implement it," he said.

Phone firms balk at proposed spy data shift

WASHINGTON (AP) — Telephone companies are quietly balking at the idea of changing how they collect and store Americans' phone records to help the National Security Agency's surveillance programs. They're worried about their exposure to lawsuits and the price tag if the U.S. government asks them to hold information about customers for longer than they already do.

Christie seen shifting focus in speech amid scandals

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, facing investigations over a traffic snarl-up and the use of federal money for an ad campaign, will likely try to shift attention back to his second-term agenda when he gives a key speech on Tuesday. Two sets of emails last week appeared to show that Christie's aides had orchestrated lane closures last September in a stretch of highway leading to the George Washington Bridge, which spans New Jersey and Manhattan, and lied about it. Christie has denied any knowledge of a scheme to snarl traffic to wreak political payback against the Democratic mayor of the city of Fort Lee, New Jersey, and said there is nothing in the emails to suggest he had any direct knowledge of it.

Obama to press jobs agenda with executive actions

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is picking up the pace of his jobs message and making a case that he can still be relevant to people struggling in the up-and-down recovery despite a divided Congress.

An Ode to the Wrap Dress

Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg opens up about the four-decade-long legacy of her famous piece that "will always make women feel like the best versions of themselves."

The Corsican Mafia Love Nest

As rumors circulate about the president of France’s alleged amorous indiscretions, the French media digs up a shadowy link with organized crime.

The Debate Over Brain Death

In simpler times we were here and then gone. But recent cases have shown us there is a complicated grey area where the brain is dead but the heart is very much alive.

From Tryst to True Love?

“If he cheats once, he’ll cheat again” is age-old wisdom, but it can be wrong. The reason for the cheating makes all the difference.