Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – In abeyance

June 23, 2011

Some say impasse, some say abeyance.

But whatever they call it, debt negotiations between Vice President Joe Biden and lawmakers hit a brick wall.

After two days of meetings this week, Republicans decided it wasn’t worth going to the third session today and walked away.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor took the harsher line, saying the talks were at an “impasse.” Dictionary definition: a situation from which there is no escape or a deadlock.

The White House took a gentler line describing the talks as in “abeyance.” Dictionary definition: temporary inactivity or a suspension.

So now they kick it upstairs. President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid will take over, according to Reid.

That’s two Democrats and one Republican at the table. Does one golf game (Obama and Boehner last Saturday) a compromise make?

Here are our top stories from Washington…

US debt talks collapse, Republicans walk out over taxes

Budget talks collapsed after Republican negotiators walked out, throwing doubt on Washington’s ability to reach a deal that would allow the government to avoid a debt default. Representative Eric Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives, said participants had identified trillions of dollars in spending cuts but were deadlocked over tax increases sought by Democrats. “Regardless of the progress that has been made, the tax issue must be resolved before discussions can continue,” Cantor said in a statement.

For more of this story by Richard Cowan and Andy Sullivan, read here.

Obama takes flak for tapping emergency oil reserves

President Obama took withering fire from the oil industry and Republicans for agreeing to release the nation’s emergency oil supplies, a decision that senior officials said was prompted by the need to prop up the ailing economy. Critics blasted the release of 30 million barrels of oil — half of a global injection — as an ill-timed misuse of reserves. Some OPEC officials called it a political ploy that ignored Saudi Arabia’s promise to step up production and the fact that oil prices had already fallen sharply.

For more of this story by Ayesha Rascoe and Timothy Gardner, read here.

Afghan drawdown creates risk, U.S. military warns

The military warned President Obama’s faster-than-expected drawdown in Afghanistan created new risks, even as commanders said they backed the strategy to start winding down the unpopular, nearly decade-old war. “The president’s decisions are more aggressive and incur more risk than I was originally prepared to accept,” Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a House hearing.

For more of this story by Phil Stewart and Andrew Quinn, read here.

Jobless claims data points to weak labor market

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, suggesting little improvement in the labor market this month after employment stumbled in May. “Again no quick rebound in employment. The report was the latest in a long-running series of data to underscore the lingering weakness in the U.S. recovery and came a day after the Federal Reserve gave a gloomier assessment of the economy.

For more of this story by Lucia Mutikani, read here.

Lagarde a ‘talented candidate’ for IMF –Geithner

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner believes French finance minister Christine Lagarde is an “exceptionally talented” candidate to lead the IMF, the Treasury said in a statement that stopped short of an endorsement. Geithner “believes that Minister Lagarde’s strong leadership skills and experience makes her an exceptionally talented candidate for IMF managing director,” a Treasury spokeswoman said after the two finance ministers met.

For more of this story by Rachelle Younglai and Lesley Wroughton, read here.

US top court rejects generic drug labeling suits

The Supreme Court ruled generic drug companies cannot be sued under state law over allegations that they failed to provide adequate warnings about potential side effects. Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Mylan’s UDL Laboratories and Iceland’s Actavis argued that federal law barred such lawsuits because the drug had been approved by the FDA. Generic drugs must have the same labels as their brand name equivalents.

For more of this story by James Vicini, read here.

U.S. consumer financial bureau targets non-banks

The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau began seeking input on how it should police financial products like prepaid cards and consumer credit reports that are provided by companies outside the banking industry. The Obama administration has touted the bureau’s ability to oversee loans and other financial products sold by non-banks as a key to reining in the “shadow banking” industry that previously had not been heavily regulated.

For more of this story by Dave Clarke, read here.

From elsewhere…

Harry Potter ebooks are on the way, but no sequel

The seven Harry Potter novels will be available as ebooks in October, author J.K. Rowling said, giving her clearest indication yet that she would not write an eighth Harry Potter story. “I do have closure with Harry,” Rowling told reporters. “I have no plans to write another novel. I’m pretty sure I’m done on the novel front…But it was fun while it lasted.”

For more of this story, read here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Boehner after meeting Obama June 1)

 

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