Washington Extra – Going nuclear?

April 20, 2012

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission commissioner Kristine Svinicki (L) is seen here with Chairman Gregory Jaczko (C) and fellow commissioner George Apostolakis (R) listening to testimony at a meeting at the NRC's headquarters in Rockville, Maryland in this March 21, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Larry Downing

Obama to renominate Republican to nuclear panel – President Obama will renominate Republican Kristine Svinicki to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, defying opposition from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a White House official told Reuters. Republicans want Svinicki, whose term as a commissioner expires in June, to stay on the panel and believe the process is being held up because she, along with three other commission members, accused the current NRC chairman, a Democrat, of bullying women. For more of this story by Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton, read here.

U.S. House passes Republican business tax cut – The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a tax break for small businesses, giving voters a stark alternative to President Obama’s politically popular “Buffett Rule” surtax on the wealthy. In an escalating election-year war of words over taxes, the Republican measure, like the Buffett Rule, is not expected to become law. It is opposed by Democrats, who control the Senate, where the bill was expected to die. For more of this story by Kim Dixon, read here.

Lagarde sees deal in making on IMF funding – IMF chief Christine Lagarde said she expects to win a big boost in funding to help the lender contain damage from the euro-zone debt crisis now that Europe has taken significant steps on its own. For more of this story by Lesley Wroughton and Stella Dawson, read here.

US jobless data suggests slowdown in job creation – The number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits for the first time fell only slightly last week, suggesting that job growth in April will not improve much after March’s disappointing performance. Economists viewed the string of weak reports as payback after an abnormally warm winter boosted activity and did not believe that the economy would suffer a repeat of 2011, when growth slowed down sharply in the first half of the year. For more of this story by Lucia Mutikani, read here.

States bet on gambling for budget quick fix – Instead of raising taxes, states are moving toward convenience gambling. Reuters columnist David Cay Johnston says taxing the money that players lose will not solve state budget problems. To see this video, click here.

Fed clarifies when Volcker rule kicks in – The Federal Reserve clarified that banks will have at least until July 21, 2014 to ease into the Volcker rule’s trading and investing crackdown, as regulators sought to temper panic on Wall Street that the restrictions would be strictly enforced starting this summer. For more of this story by Alexandra Alper, read here.

A Romney pick for top US court? Frontrunners emerge – Now that Mitt Romney is the presumptive Republican nominee for president, the names of people he might appoint to the Supreme Court are starting to roll off the tongues of conservative activists, lawyers and former Republican administration aides. While conservatives caution that talk is mere guesswork, an examination of Romney’s record as Massachusetts governor and statements he made on the presidential campaign trail can help shape an early list of frontrunners should he defeat President Obama and should he be given the chance to fill a vacancy on the nine-member bench. For more of this analysis by David Ingram, read here.

U.S. struggles to head off wider Sudan conflict – The United States is working to push Sudan and South Sudan back from the brink of war as the two sides ratchet up hostilities that threaten to upend the U.S.-backed peace deal that led to South Sudan’s independence last year. The Obama administration’s special envoy for Sudan, Princeton Lyman, said the situation was a “very serious crisis” that threatened wider conflict between the two foes, which fought a brutal civil war for decades before finally signing a 2005 peace agreement. For more of this story by Andrew Quinn, read here.

US eyes combined space operations with allies – The United States is examining the possibility of carrying out certain military space operations with allied countries, in much the same way as it conducts joint air and naval operations, a senior U.S. Air Force general said. “What we know from looking at every military operation that we undertake is that there is value in combined and coalition operations. It’s time for us to bring those concepts to space,” General Robert Kehler, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told industry executives at a conference. For more of this story by Andrea Shalal-Esa, read here.

From elsewhere…

Disgruntled French set to vote out Sarkozy – Voters look set to turn their backs on conservative Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday’s first round of an election that could give France its first left-wing president in 17 years just as fears resurface over Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. A sickly economy and a deep dislike of Sarkozy’s flashy style have dominated the campaign, but the outside world’s doubts about France’s commitment to balance its public finances are also at stake as feeble growth threatens deficit-cutting targets in Europe’s No. 2 economy.

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