Political News from Yahoo

Congress faces highway funding battle, gridlock looms

By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A slow-motion pile-up is coming into view on U.S. highways and Capitol Hill this summer: federal funding for road construction is running out and Congress faces a big fight over how to replenish it. The trucking industry, many state transportation directors and even a few lawmakers say the simple solution to shore up the Highway Trust Fund and avoid construction layoffs is to raise federal fuel taxes, unchanged since 1993. "We have never proposed or a supported a gas tax," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Monday. Republican House Speaker John Boehner also opposes an increase in fuel taxes, an aide said.


Obama health nominee's first task? Ward off new crises

By David Morgan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sylvia Mathews Burwell, President Barack Obama's nominee for U.S. health secretary, will need all her skills as a crisis manager to steer the law known as Obamacare away from troubled waters during this year's congressional election campaign. If confirmed by the Senate, her first task would be to get the upper hand on two issues that could spiral out of control for Democrats just before the November elections: rising health insurance costs and the potential for a new wave of policy cancellations for small businesses. Both issues are grist for the Republican campaign mill to win control of the Senate by making the November 4 poll a referendum on Obamacare. The last thing Democrats need is a new self-inflicted wound akin to the fiasco last year, when HealthCare.gov crashed on launch and millions of Americans found themselves with canceled health insurance policies.


Primary featuring Clay Aiken too close to call

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Democratic congressional primary race between former "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken and textile entrepreneur Keith Crisco remained very close and without a clear winner.


Report urges end to drug mixtures in executions

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the aftermath of a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma, a constitutional rights group is calling for replacing the use of drug combinations in executions with a single drug that it says would minimize pain and suffering.

Boehner to face college professor in US House bid

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner defeated two tea party challengers Tuesday in his bid for a 13th term in Congress, brushing aside some GOP discontent over his leadership in Washington.


In North Carolina, Republican establishment favorite wins Senate primary

By John Whitesides WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A North Carolina Republican backed by the party establishment fought off Tea Party and Christian conservative rivals on Tuesday to win the nomination to take on vulnerable Democratic Senator Kay Hagan in November. State House Speaker Thom Tillis was projected to capture more than 40 percent of the vote, surpassing the amount needed to avoid a costly July runoff with the second-place finisher. Republicans must pick up six seats to win a Senate majority. With about 90 percent of the vote counted, Tillis had 45 percent to Tea Party favorite Greg Brannon's 27 percent and 18 percent for evangelical minister Mark Harris.


NC lawmaker wins GOP Senate nomination

WASHINGTON (AP) — North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis captured the Republican nomination to oppose imperiled Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan Tuesday night, overcoming anti-establishment rivals by a comfortable margin in the first of a springtime spate of primaries testing the strength of a tea party movement that first rocked the GOP four years ago.


GOP Establishment Wins in NC Primary

Thom Tillis, the establishment GOP candidate in North Carolina, edged out a crowded primary field to become his party’s nominee for Senate on Tuesday night.


Nigeria kidnappings 'outrageous, heartbreaking': Obama

Kano (Nigeria) (AFP) - US President Barack Obama described the kidnapping of more than 220 schoolgirls by Islamists in Nigeria as "heartbreaking" and "outrageous" as Washington deployed military experts in the hunt for the children. Obama urged global action against Boko Haram and confirmed Nigerian leaders had accepted an offer to deploy US personnel there, soon after residents said the extremist group had seized eight more girls, aged between 12 and 15, again in the embattled northeast. The first group of girls were taken three weeks ago, and concerns have been mounting about their fate after Boko Haram chief Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility, saying his group was holding the schoolgirls as "slaves" and threatening to "sell them in the market". The team sent to Nigeria consists of "military, law enforcement, and other agencies", Obama said, and will work to "identify where in fact these girls might be and provide them help".


US lawmakers split on new Russia sanctions

US senators were split over when to impose new sanctions on Russia, with Republicans saying President Barack Obama should not wait until Ukraine's upcoming election before slapping Moscow with sector-wide penalties. The White House has said it remains prepared to impose biting new sanctions on Russia, which has annexed the Crimean peninsula and furthered its aggression in unrest-plagued eastern Ukraine, should its forces disrupt Ukraine's May 25 poll.


Car follows motorcade in, White House locks down

WASHINGTON (AP) — Access to the White House complex was halted for about an hour Tuesday after a vehicle followed a motorcade carrying President Barack Obama's daughters through the gates.


Obama: US to help Nigeria find kidnapped girls

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the U.S. will do everything it can to help Nigeria find nearly 300 teenage girls missing since they were kidnapped from school three weeks ago by an Islamist extremist group that has threatened to sell them.


Tea party vs GOP Establishment in NC, elsewhere

WASHINGTON (AP) — North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis moved ahead of a pair of anti-establishment rivals Tuesday night in the race to pick a Republican challenger to Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in the first of a springtime spate of primaries testing the strength of a tea party movement that first rocked the party four years ago.


Sanctions against Russia taking toll: US

The United States said Tuesday its sanctions against Moscow over the escalating unrest in eastern Ukraine had taken a toll on the Russian economy and warned more measures were possible. The limited sanctions so far have stimulated heavy capital flight from Russia, hobbled a bank close to President Vladimir Putin and taken economic growth to near zero, Daniel Glaser, the US Treasury assistant secretary for terrorist financing, told a hearing in Congress. If Moscow does not stop interfering in Ukraine and supporting pro-Russia separatists, the US will implement more sanctions, he said. "Our approach is a calibrated effort to impose immediate costs on Russia and to create conditions that will make Russia increasingly vulnerable to sanctions as the situation in Ukraine escalates," Glaser said.


Eastern Europe troop surge could become permanent: general

NATO's troop build-up in Eastern Europe amid tensions with Russia over Ukraine could become permanent, the military alliance's top general said Tuesday. NATO countries drew down their defense budgets following the end of the Cold War, as they started to look upon Russia as a partner, US General Philip Breedlove said. But Russia's "annexation of Crimea... changes that dynamic," the NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe told a press conference, after meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other officials in Ottawa.


EPA accused of blocking independent investigations

WASHINGTON (AP) — A unit run by President Barack Obama's political staff inside the Environmental Protection Agency operates illegally as a "rogue law enforcement agency" that has blocked independent investigations by the EPA's inspector general for years, a top investigator told Congress.


Republicans will be majority on House Benghazi panel

The majority of seats on a new committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks will be held by Republicans, a congressional aide said on Tuesday, despite Democrats' insistence that the panel must be evenly divided in order to conduct a nonpartisan investigation. A senior House of Representatives leadership aide told Reuters that the new House Select Committee will include seven Republicans and five Democrats. But Republicans control a majority - 233 - of the 435 seats in the House, and thus would typically have more members on a House panel. Republicans have led the charge to investigate the administration's handling of the assaults on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, which killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans on September 11, 2012.


White House briefly on lock-down due to suspicious car

The White House was briefly put on lockdown Tuesday after a car trailed an official motorcade past a perimeter barrier. The Secret Service, which is in charge of the president's security, said an unauthorized driver followed an authorized motorcade past a security barrier at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, about 200 meters from the White House.


Benghazi: The issue that lives on, and on, and on

By Steve Holland and Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Benghazi is back. The controversy over the deadly 2012 attack in the Libyan city has resurfaced with Republicans accusing the White House of creating a political smokescreen in the aftermath of Benghazi to protect President Barack Obama's re-election. Republicans hope to gain election-year traction on the issue, but could face a voter backlash if they push it too hard. Until a 2012 email on Benghazi from top Obama foreign policy aide Ben Rhodes surfaced last week, the events surrounding the attacks on a U.S. compound in Benghazi had largely faded from media attention.


China oil rig move 'provocative,' US says

The United States on Tuesday warned China that a decision to move a deep-sea oil rig into disputed waters in the South China Sea was a "provocative" step which it was monitoring closely. "We're looking carefully into this matter," State Department deputy spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. "Given the recent history of tensions in the South China Sea, China's decision to operate its oil rig in disputed waters is provocative and unhelpful to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region." Vietnam has labeled China's decision "illegal" and demanded the rig be withdrawn.


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