By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the U.S. government can no longer require nuclear power plant operators to pay fees into a nuclear waste fund, a victory for the utilities that challenged the fees. The court in Washington said the fees could not currently be justified because the government's long-stalled plan to build a national waste facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada had not come to fruition. President Barack Obama's administration has said it does not intend to pursue the decades-old proposal to build the facility. As a result of the ruling, the U.S. Energy Department must now either ask Congress to reduce the fees to zero, or produce a new legal assessment of why they are justified.
By Elvina Nawaguna WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration's hopes of securing "fast-track" trade negotiating authority from Congress this year look certain to be dashed given the limited time left on the congressional calendar, the No. 2 House Democrat said on Tuesday. The administration wants Congress to quickly pass Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, to help it secure a trade agreement with 11 other Pacific Rim nations, including Australia, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia and Mexico. "I don't realistically see TPA moving," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer told reporters, saying that Congress would likely be busy with other bills during the eight working days it has left in 2013.
By Joseph Menn SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A secret U.S. intelligence court let the National Security Agency collect an expanded amount of data about Americans' email even after finding that the agency systematically exceeded the limits of a smaller program, newly released documents show. The judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court recounted a litany of problems with the first, smaller program, including the NSA collecting more categories of information than had been approved by the court and sharing data more widely within the electronic eavesdropping agency than had been authorized. At issue are emails among U.S. citizens that the NSA scooped up in its pursuit of foreign intelligence. The programs let the NSA search for Americans who had electronic contact with people who were in turn linked to people hostile to the United States.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama warned lawmakers on Tuesday that Iran would make progress in its ability to build a nuclear weapon if there is no diplomatic deal to halt or roll back its nuclear program and urged Congress to hold off on tightening sanctions against Teheran while talks continue. ...
By Kevin Drawbaugh and Patrick Temple-West WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Taxation of large U.S. multinational corporations would be dramatically overhauled by a raft of initial proposals unveiled on Tuesday by the U.S. Senate's top tax writer, though there is broad skepticism that they could become law anytime soon. Democratic Senator Max Baucus issued a "discussion draft" that called for, among other things, repealing the present tax code provision that allows U.S. multinationals to park hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign profits offshore tax-free. In place of this provision, known as offshore corporate income tax deferral, Baucus would impose immediate taxation of some foreign profits, though far from all of them. The top U.S. corporate income tax rate is 35 percent, though few multinationals pay it thanks to an abundance of loopholes.
U.S. monetary policy will probably remain very easy for a long while after either the Federal Reserve's interest rate hike threshold on unemployment, or inflation, has been crossed, Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen said in a letter to a U.S. lawmaker. Yellen, responding to a written question for the record from Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren following her hearing last week before the Senate Banking Committee to become the next Fed chair, also said the jobless threshold was not a trigger. "Monetary policy is likely to remain highly accommodative long after one of the economic thresholds for the federal funds rate has been crossed," she said in her written answer.
WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Reuters) - Former U.S. Senator John Edwards is opening a new law firm with his eldest daughter, he said on Tuesday, shedding the low profile he has kept since standing trial last year on campaign finance fraud charges that arose from a failed 2008 White House bid. The firm, billed as a national plaintiffs' practice with offices in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C., marks a return to the career where Edwards made his fortune by winning multimillion-dollar verdicts in personal injury and product liability cases before entering politics. Edwards served one term as a senator from North Carolina before becoming the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee. A federal jury acquitted him in 2012 of accepting illegal political contributions and deadlocked on five other campaign finance charges, allowing him to retain his law license.