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.
U.S. lawmakers late on Monday failed to agree on key funding measures for the International Monetary Fund, in another setback for historic reforms at the global financial institution to give more power to emerging markets. For nearly a year, the Obama administration has been pushing Congress to approve a shift of some $63 billion from an IMF crisis fund to its general accounts in order to maintain Washington's power at the global lender, and to make good on an international commitment made in 2010. Congress must sign off on the IMF funding to complete 2010 reforms that would make China the IMF's third-largest member and revamp the Fund's board to reduce the dominance of Western Europe. After putting off the request in 2012 because of the U.S. presidential election, the U.S. Treasury has sought to tuck the provision into several bills since March.
By Patricia Zengerle and Timothy Gardner WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama is more likely to win his battle with the U.S. Congress to keep new sanctions on Iran at bay now that world powers and Tehran have made a new advance in talks to curb the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. Despite strong support for the bill in the Senate, analysts, lawmakers and congressional aides said on Monday that the agreement to begin implementing a nuclear deal on January 20 makes it harder for sanctions hawks to attract more backers. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, was one of several of the 59 co-sponsors who said there is no clamor for a vote any time soon. Sixteen of Obama's fellow Democrats are among the co-sponsors of the measure requiring further cuts in Iran's oil exports if Tehran backs away from the interim agreement, despite Iran warning that it would back away from the negotiating table if any new sanctions measure passed.
By Mark Hosenball and Alina Selyukh WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic lawmakers on Monday called for a congressional inquiry into the hacking of credit and debit card data of tens of millions of customers of No. 3 U.S. retailer Target Corp during the holiday shopping season. Target has said a breach of its networks resulted in the theft of about 40 million credit and debit card records and 70 million other records with customer information. In a letter to Jeb Hensarling, the committee's Republican chairman, 17 committee Democrats, led by ranking member Maxine Waters, asked for a "full Financial Services Committee hearing." It was unclear whether the committee's Republican majority would respond to the request. After the request from Senate Democrats last week, Senate Banking Committee leaders have confirmed they plan a hearing on data security issues in late January.
By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Negotiators in the U.S. Congress have reached agreement on a $1 trillion spending bill aimed at keeping the federal government open through September 30, Senate Appropriations Committee chairwoman Barbara Mikulski said on Monday. Mikulski told reporters that the measure will reverse planned military pension cuts for disabled veterans and does not contain any provision that blocks the implementation of "Obamacare" health insurance reforms. But asked whether President Barack Obama's signature health care reform law will get an increase in funding, she declined to answer, saying only, "Obamacare lives another day." The spending measure fills in the details of a budget agreement passed in December, following a 16-day shutdown of many government agencies in October that was prompted largely by disputes over Obamacare funding. Another shutdown was scheduled to occur at midnight Wednesday if Congress failed to approve new spending authority, and a three-day temporary extension will be needed to get the full spending bill passed this week.
Prospects of 1.4 million unemployed Americans getting their federal jobless benefits back soon brightened somewhat on Monday when Senate Republican negotiators offered a new plan to extend the emergency relief for three months. Senate Democrats and Republicans planned to meet privately on Tuesday to evaluate the proposal. Long-term unemployment benefits expired on December 28, and since then President Barack Obama and his Democrats in Congress have pressed for an unpaid extension of up to one year. According to a senior aides, the Republican offer would pay for the jobless benefits by extending across-the-board spending cuts, known as "sequestration," for another year - into 2024.
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — As Democrats intensify their probe in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie has found little support — and sharp criticism in some cases — from the slate of potential rivals for the Republican presidential nomination. At the same time, would-be allies from key states have been slow to rally behind the Republican governor, whose administration appears to have created a massive traffic jam to punish a political adversary.