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No sign yet Iran sanctions bill will come to U.S. Senate vote

By Patricia Zengerle and Timothy Gardner WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made clear on Tuesday he has no immediate plan to allow a vote on a bill that would slap new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, even as backers promised to keep up their efforts to win more support. Fifty-nine of the 100 senators - including 16 of President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats - support the bill, despite Obama's warning that its passage could jeopardize delicate international negotiations to curb Iran's nuclear program. New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is a lead sponsor of the measure, which has caused friction between the White House and some Democrats in Congress. Iran warned that it would back away from the negotiations if any new sanctions were passed.

Huge budget bill aims to show Congress' mettle

WASHINGTON (AP) — A chastened Congress is putting aside the crisis-driven budget battles of the past three years, embracing a $1.1 trillion spending bill that restores or smooths the sharpest edges of the automatic cuts imposed as a result of its own dysfunction.

Agreement appears elusive on jobless benefits bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Compromise talks on a new program of long-term jobless benefits ran aground in the Senate on Tuesday, leaving the fate of the measure in extreme doubt while Republicans and Democrats vied for political advantage in the wreckage.

Pro-GOP group airs first attack ads in Senate race

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An outside conservative group is airing advertisements beginning Tuesday attacking Democratic lawmakers seeking Senate seats because they voted for the 2010 health care bill.

Dems signal willingness to wait on Iran sanctions

WASHINGTON (AP) — Under pressure from the Obama administration, Senate Democrats who favor a new batch of sanctions on Iran signaled a willingness to hold off on levying penalties to give diplomatic negotiations a chance.

Appeals court sets aside Internet neutrality rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a decision that could reshape consumers' access to entertainment, news and other online content, a federal appeals court Tuesday set aside Federal Communications Commission rules designed to ensure that transmission of all Internet content be treated equally.

NJ Gov. Christie: 'We let down the people'

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 apologized again Tuesday, saying his administration "let down the people we are entrusted to serve" but that the issue doesn't define his team or the state.

Analysis: Budget bill locks in conservative gains

WASHINGTON (AP) — At an unlikely-to-be-read 1,582 pages, Congress' $1.1 trillion spending bill is precisely the sort of massive legislation that Republicans criticized when they successfully sought power three years ago in the House.

Bill would restore Egypt aid with conditions

WASHINGTON (AP) — A spending bill in Congress would restore $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt, but only on condition that the Egyptian government ensures democratic reform.

NJ's Christie apologizes again for payback scheme

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 apologized again Tuesday, saying his administration "let down the people we are entrusted to serve" but that the issue doesn't define his team or the state.

Unemployment compensation bill hits new snags in Senate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Legislation to renew federal jobless benefits for 1.4 million Americans appeared stalled again in the Senate on Tuesday, with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell blasting Democrats' latest offer for debating a bill. McConnell protested Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's plan to allow votes on amendments from both parties, saying it was "ridiculous" to do so in a way that McConnell said would favor Democrats, who control the chamber. ...

RNC ditching role of ad maker, funder

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican National Committee is largely getting out of the advertising business and instead will defer to super PACs and campaign committees to have a greater role during this year's midterm election, senior GOP officials said Tuesday.

Spy court judge slams proposed privacy advocate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The former chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is slamming the idea of having a privacy advocate on the secret court. He says it's unnecessary and possibly counterproductive.

Christie still oddsmakers' favorite to win GOP nomination

Despite facing a pair of controversies worthy of having the word "gate" attached to them, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie remains one of the odds-on favorites to win the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Senate Dems divided over new Iran sanctions

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats stand divided over whether to slap a new batch of sanctions on Iran as President Barack Obama, fearing the penalties could derail negotiations, has implored Congress to hold off.

GOP chairman fails to obtain Afghan detainee names

WASHINGTON (AP) — A House Republican chairman has failed to obtain from U.S. military officials the names of 72 detainees that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered released from prison.

GOP constituents want jobless aid renewed

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — In her 17 months out of work, Lita Ness has heard all the criticisms of extended unemployment insurance that has led to the program getting suspended amid a partisan standoff in Congress.

US condemns Iran minister visit to Hezbollah grave

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is condemning a visit by Iran's foreign minister to lay a wreath at the grave of a former Hezbollah leader the U.S. says was behind deadly terrorist attacks.

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.