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Dec 8, 2013

Analysis: U.S. budget deal could bring truce, minimize shutdown threats

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A minimalist U.S. budget deal that congressional negotiators hope to reach in coming days will do almost nothing to tame rising federal debt, but it could usher in a nearly two-year fiscal truce, minimizing the risk of future funding crises and government shutdowns.

If the accord comes together, it would blunt some of the automatic “sequester” spending cuts and set funding levels at around $1 trillion for fiscal 2014 and 2015 for government agencies and programs from the military to national parks.

Dec 5, 2013

U.S. budget negotiations enter final stage in Congress: aides

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. congressional negotiators on Thursday aimed to put the finishing touches on a two-year budget deal that would avoid another federal shutdown next month and suspend some across-the-board spending cuts set to hit military and other domestic programs, congressional sources said.

Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray and House of Representatives Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan were trying to seal a deal before a December 13 deadline.

Dec 3, 2013

U.S. House Speaker heartens immigration advocates with new hire

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. immigration reform supporters, reeling from their failure to get legislation enacted this year, saw a new ray of hope on Tuesday as House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner announced he had hired a long-time immigration specialist to advise him.

“The speaker remains hopeful that we can enact step-by-step, common-sense immigration reforms,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, who added, “Becky Tallent, a well-known expert in this field of public policy, is a great addition to our team and that effort.”

Dec 3, 2013

U.S. Republicans eye backup plan as budget talks intensify

WASHINGTON, Dec 3 (Reuters) – Republicans in the U.S. House
of Representatives might seek a vote next week on a short-term
government funding measure as a backup plan in case budget
negotiators fail to reach a deal by a Dec. 13 deadline,
lawmakers said on Tuesday.

The move would be aimed at shoring up consumer confidence
during the Christmas shopping season. It would demonstrate
Republicans intend to fund the government beyond a Jan. 15
deadline, rather than resort to the tactics they employed in
October that led to the closing of many federal agencies.

Nov 21, 2013

Democrats ditch historic U.S. Senate rule blamed for gridlock

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate, in a historic and bitterly fought rule change, stripped Republicans on Thursday of their ability to block President Barack Obama’s judicial and executive branch nominees.

On a nearly party-line vote of 52-48, Democrats changed the Senate’s balance of power by reducing from 60 to 51 the number of votes needed to end procedural roadblocks known as filibusters against presidential nominees, except those for U.S. Supreme Court judges.

Nov 20, 2013

U.S. budget negotiators eye two-year funding deal: congressman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. budget talks are aiming for a two-year deal that would end divisive fiscal showdowns that have plagued Congress since 2011, while also easing the severe across-the-board spending cuts that otherwise would trigger in 2014 and 2015, a Republican negotiator said on Wednesday.

In an interview with Reuters, Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma said that the 29-member Senate-House negotiating committee “would like to achieve” a two-year budget. And while he said the talks were “close” to a deal, he emphasized that details were still being debated.

Nov 19, 2013

Progress emerges in U.S. budget talks; Murray sees path to deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Signs of progress began to emerge in U.S. budget talks on Tuesday, as top Senate Democratic negotiator Patty Murray said that she sees a path toward an agreement to ease automatic “sequester” spending cuts.

Murray, asked if there was now a path forward in her talks with her counterpart, Republican Representative Paul Ryan, said: “I believe there is.”

Nov 14, 2013

Low enrollment figures underscore Obamacare woes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A tiny fraction of the hoped-for millions have signed up for insurance under President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, the government said on Wednesday, highlighting the scale of problems bedeviling Obama’s biggest domestic policy achievement.

While the low figure of 106,000 enrollments was expected because of website technical failures, they showed how far the White House has to go to build a new individual market of millions of consumers in 2014 to keep the healthcare program financially viable.

Nov 13, 2013

Low Obamacare enrollment figures turns up heat on White House

WASHINGTON, Nov 13 (Reuters) – About 106,000 people signed
up for insurance coverage nationally under President Barack
Obama’s healthcare law during October, the government said on
Wednesday, a tiny fraction of the millions of people that had
been expected to enroll for next year.

The Obama administration had signaled enrollment would be
very low in October because of technical failures that have
hobbled the website used for signing people up in
36 states. But the reported figures show how far the White House
has to go to build a new individual market of millions of
consumers in 2014 to keep the healthcare program financially

Nov 13, 2013

White House takes heat from Democrats to fix Obamacare

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama faced desperate calls on Wednesday from his political allies to swiftly help people whose existing insurance policies are being canceled because of Obamacare, and to fix the program’s broken website by the end of the month.

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, seething over the botched startup of Obama’s signature healthcare law, met with administration officials for more than an hour, angry that the botched rollout could become a major political liability for the party during the 2014 mid-term elections.

    • About Richard

      "I have been a Washington correspondent for Reuters since 2001. I have written about climate change and the environment, the U.S. Congress, politics, economic issues and agricultural trade disputes."
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