By Mark Felsenthal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama spoke on Thursday with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto about a strategy to deal with a flood of children coming from Central America to the United States, the White House said. Obama "welcomed the opportunity to work in close cooperation with Mexico to develop concrete proposals to address the root causes of unlawful migration from Central America," the White House said. Responding to what Obama calls an urgent humanitarian crisis, Congress on Tuesday advanced legislation significantly increasing funds to handle a surge of foreign children entering the United States illegally.
By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Congress faces more big fights over funding for highway construction and government agencies in the coming months as newly elected Republican leaders in the House of Representatives work to soothe the concerns of the party's right flank. Representatives Kevin McCarthy, elected majority leader, and Steve Scalise, elected majority whip, will be under pressure to make good on promises to give rank-and-file Republicans more say over legislation they bring to the floor for votes. That is likely to mean a tougher negotiating line with Senate Democrats over spending issues, and bills that are more in line with conservative principles. "It opens the door for another fiscal standoff," said Chris Krueger, a former Republican House staffer now with Guggenheim Securities in Washington.
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a major blow to efforts to get Congress' troubled budget process back on track, the Senate's top Democrat yanked a $180 billion spending measure from the Senate floor Thursday after Republicans protested a plan that would have denied them the chance to more easily win changes to the measure.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is dispatching 300 U.S. military advisers to Iraq to help quell its rising insurgency, inching back into a fight he tried to leave behind. He also challenged Iraq's embattled leader to create a more inclusive government or risk his country descending into sectarian civil war.
Israeli troops have arrested some 30 Palestinians in the West Bank as they ramped up a search for three teenagers believed kidnapped by Hamas, the army said on Thursday. The teenagers, two of them minors, disappeared from a popular hitchhiking spot in the sprawling southern West Bank Gush Etzion settlement bloc late on June 12. Israel accuses Hamas of the abductions and has launched a wide-ranging military operation aimed at finding the teenagers and crushing the movement's infrastructure in the West Bank. "They were kidnapped by Hamas, we had no doubt of that.
US President Barack Obama warned Iran on Thursday it could end up fighting sectarian fury "in a whole lot of places" unless it helped stabilize Iraq and pushed for an inclusive, multiethnic government. Shiite Iran could play a "constructive" role in helping ease the crisis in Iraq sparked by the lightning advance of Sunni radicals from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Obama said. But he cautioned that "old habits die hard," following several days of maneuvering between Tehran and Washington over possible cooperation amid signs both sides may have a common interest in preventing Iraq's plight from worsening.
By Susan Cornwell and Emily Stephenson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Republicans on Thursday chose an ally of Speaker John Boehner for the No. 2 job in the chamber, a setback for some conservatives hoping to use a leadership election to boost their influence. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, already the third-ranking House Republican, was chosen to replace Eric Cantor as majority leader. Steve Scalise, a Louisiana lawmaker with backing from Southern Republicans, beat out two other lawmakers on Thursday to replace McCarthy as party whip, drumming up votes for bills.
The United States Thursday slapped sanctions on Uganda -- cancelling a military air exercise, imposing visa bans and freezing some aid -- amid deep US anger at "vile" Ugandan anti-gay laws. The legislation "runs counter to universal human rights and complicates our bilateral relationship," the White House said, renewing calls for the law to be repealed. Signed by President Yoweri Museveni in February, the law calls for "repeat homosexuals" to be jailed for life, outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and obliges Ugandans to denounce gays to the authorities. Rights groups say it has triggered a sharp increase in arrests and assaults of the African nation's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Republican Kevin McCarthy was selected Thursday as the new US House majority leader, capping a whirlwind week for a party scrambling to heal internal rifts after the ouster of GOP number two Eric Cantor. With the even-keeled McCarthy elected to the position vacated by Cantor, his job as House majority whip was won by far-right up-and-comer Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who pledged to bring a more conservative value set to Republican leadership. McCarthy emerged this week as the consensus candidate to fill the majority leader role at a time of deep divisions within the Republican Party ahead of November's congressional elections.
Saudi King Abdullah will meet Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo on Friday, diplomatic and security sources told AFP, his first visit since the 2011 overthrow of strongman Hosni Mubarak. Saudi Arabia welcomed the July military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi led by ex-army chief Sisi and has pledged billions of dollars in aid to Egypt's military-installed authorities.
House Republicans have elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as their new Majority Leader, replacing Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., who announced last week he was stepping down from the top leadership post after suffering an embarrassing primary defeat at the hands of a Tea Party challenger. "I'll make one promise," McCarthy told reporters after the vote. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, stays in place. Meanwhile, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was elected Majority Whip (the post McCarthy is leaving).
About 2,000 opponents of same-sex marriage marched in Washington on Thursday, insisting that children will suffer if they're not raised in traditional mother-father families. The second annual March for Marriage follows big gains over the past year for same-sex marriage, which opinion polls suggest has come to be accepted by a majority of Americans. The march on Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court was spearheaded by the National Organization for Marriage, and included a Roman Catholic archbishop from famously gay-friendly San Francisco. "We will not accept judgments redefining something as obviously true that it takes a man and a woman to make a marriage," said NOM president Brian Brown, who wants traditional marriage to be enshrined in the US Constitution.