Politics and Government

The Two-Way
7:03 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Extending Jobless Benefits Likely Delayed Again

The lines were busy last September at an unemployment insurance phone bank operated by the California Employment Development Department in Sacramento.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 11:21 am

The headlines tell the story:

-- "Hopes Dim For Long-Term Extension To Jobless Benefits." (All Things Considered)

-- "Senate Blocks Jobless Aid." (Politico)

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National Security
4:17 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Congress Weighs In On NSA Overhaul Proposals

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 6:30 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

The National Security Agency faces pressure to reform. Congress is starting to consider what to do about an agency that still operates in great secrecy but has seen many of its operations exposed. In a moment we'll ask how much more we don't know. We start with lawmakers listening to a presidential commission pushing for change after the disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

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Politics
2:05 am
Wed January 15, 2014

'Pretty Good' Budget Deal Looks Good Enough To Avoid Shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. A massive $1.1 trillion spending bill, aimed at funding the government until October, is getting generally positive reviews, including from House Republicans eager to avoid another shutdown crisis with elections looming.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 8:01 am

For the first time in years, the House of Representatives is expected to approve a massive new spending bill Wednesday that keeps federal agencies operating until a new fiscal year starts in October.

The so-called "omnibus" package of all 12 annual spending bills is a compromise; it has more money in it than what Congressional Republicans wanted, but less than what President Obama had asked for. There is some disappointment with the measure on both sides of the aisle, but this time nobody is talking about forcing another government shutdown.

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It's All Politics
6:13 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

5 Takeaways From The Omnibus Spending Bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks Tuesday on Capitol Hill, where a massive spending bill, aimed at funding the government through October and putting to rest the bitter budget battles of last year, is getting generally positive bipartisan reviews.
Susan Walsh AP

Regular order. That phrase refers to Congress conducting business in a methodical way, like it used to back before "dysfunctional" came to seem an official and permanent part of Congress' name.

When the House and Senate appropriations committee chairs announced late Monday evening that they had agreed on how to allocate the $1.012 trillion in federal spending, it was yet another step on the path to regular order that Congress forced itself to return to after years of regular disorder, best symbolized by last year's partial government shutdown.

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It's All Politics
6:11 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

IRS Gets Spending Bill Smackdown From Congress

John Koskinen, President Obama's choice to head the Internal Revenue Service, testifies Dec. 10 on Capitol Hill before the Senate Finance Committee hearing on his nomination.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

The IRS is getting a special $200,000 earmark in the 2014 spending bill now moving through Congress.

But it's not because the agency is suddenly in the good graces of lawmakers.

The new funds are earmarked for "intensive training" in the Exempt Organizations division – the office that pulled the IRS into its worst scandal in years. Last spring, Exempt Organizations chief Lois Lerner apologized for the division's targeting of tea party and other conservative groups that were seeking tax exemptions as 501c4 social welfare organizations.

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Federal Judge Says It Violates Constitution
5:00 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Oklahoma's Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down

Credit kjd / Flickr.com

A federal judge has struck down Oklahoma's gay marriage ban, ruling that it violates the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Terrence Kern handed down the ruling Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by two same-sex couples. Kern's ruling was immediately stayed pending appeal, meaning gay marriages won't immediately happen in Oklahoma.

The gay couples had sued for the right to marry and to have a marriage from another jurisdiction recognized in Oklahoma.

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The Two-Way
4:56 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Federal Judge Strikes Down Oklahoma Ban On Gay Marriage

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 5:53 pm

Saying Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage is "arbitrary" and "irrational," a federal judge ruled the ban violated the constitution and it should be struck down.

U.S. Senior District Judge Terence Kern, however, put a hold on his ruling, pending an appeal. This means gay marriages will not begin immediately in the state.

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Politics
4:12 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Hopes Dim For Long-Term Extension To Jobless Benefits

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 5:33 pm

The Senate is still struggling to find a way to pay for an extension of unemployment benefits for those out of work for 26 weeks or more. Majority leader Harry Reid agreed to bring up five Democratic and five Republican amendments in hopes to winning enough Republicans over to get to the 60 votes needed for passage.

Politics
4:12 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Christie Delivers Statewide Address Under Increased Scrutiny

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 5:33 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Embattled New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was back in the spotlight today. The annual State of the State speech came at an awkward moment for Christie. The Republican governor had not spoken publicly since apologizing last week for politically motivated lane closures at the George Washington Bridge. Christie acknowledged the unfolding scandal at the start of his speech.

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Politics
4:12 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Obama's NSA Panel Testifies Before Senate Committee

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 5:33 pm

Members of a special panel of advisers assembled by President Obama are testifying on Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. In December, the panel recommended changes to the way that the National Security Administration conducts surveillance.

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