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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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House OKs funding bill for Afghanistan, Iraq wars

WASHINGTON – Sidestepping opposition from antiwar liberals, the House on Tuesday approved funding to escalate the war in Afghanistan and wind down U.S. involvement in Iraq. The $106 billion war-funding bill, approved 226-202, posed the toughest test yet of President Barack Obama’s ability to rally his party’s left wing, which views his foreign and military policies as too hawkish.

Lawmakers working on health care compromise

WASHINGTON – With Republicans fighting the idea of a government-run health insurance plan, members of President Barack Obama’s team said Sunday that they are open to a compromise: a cooperative program that would expand coverage with taxpayer money but without direct governmental control. Congress begins work this week on putting Obama’s goal of universal health coverage into law. Some lawmakers are expected to introduce specific plans that run counter to Obama’s political promises.

House OKs clunkers plan

WASHINGTON – The House on Tuesday approved a “cash for clunkers” bill that aims to boost new auto sales by allowing consumers to turn in their gas-guzzling cars and trucks for vouchers worth up to $4,500 toward more fuel-efficient vehicles. President Barack Obama has encouraged Congress to approve consumer incentives for new car purchases as part of the government’s work to restructure General Motors and Chrysler. The House approved the bill 298-119.

Sotomayor’s records sent to Congress

WASHINGTON – Judge Sonia Sotomayor, already facing controversy for a 2001 speech on the virtue of having “a wise Latina” as a judge, made similar comments in a series of speeches released Thursday. She said the nation is “deeply confused” about the proper role of race and ethnic identity, and she insisted her identity as a Hispanic woman shapes her life and her work in court. “A wise Latina” would reach a “better conclusion” than a white male, she said on several occasions.

Agreement reached on war funding

WASHINGTON – Top House and Senate Democrats reached a tentative agreement on an almost $100 billion war funding bill Monday, including a generous new line of credit for the International Monetary Fund. At the core of the measure is President Barack Obama’s war funding request, which included $76 billion for Pentagon operations. But the IMF funding is a top priority for Obama, who pledged the $100 billion line of credit at April’s G-20 summit in London to help developing countries deal with the troubled global economy.

House panel OKs greenhouse-gas limits

WASHINGTON – A bill to create the first national limit on greenhouse-gas emissions was approved by a House committee Thursday after a week of late-night debates that cemented the shift of climate change from rhetorical jousting to a subject of serious, if messy, Washington policymaking. The legislation would create a cap-and-trade system: Over the next decades, power plants, oil refineries and manufacturers would be required to obtain allowances for the pollution they emit. Those who need more or less could turn to a Wall-Street-like market in the allowances.

House OKs bill allowing guns in national parks

WASHINGTON – Gun rights advocates have found a sweet spot in Democratic-dominated Washington, and they are using it to aggressively push legislation. Their latest victory came Wednesday when the House passed a bill that will allow people to bring concealed and loaded guns into national parks.

House sends president a tougher credit card bill

WASHINGTON – The House on Wednesday gave final approval to a bill that will prohibit credit card companies from arbitrarily raising interest rates on existing balances and charging certain fees. With a 361-64 vote, the House ensured that President Barack Obama will be able to sign the bill into law by Memorial Day.

Senate passes measure for credit card reform

WASHINGTON – Landmark credit card legislation, poised to reach President Obama’s desk as early as Memorial Day, will force the card industry to reinvent itself and consumers to rethink the way they use plastic. The Senate Tuesday took a critical step forward by voting 90 to 5 to pass a bill that would sharply curtail credit card issuers’ ability to raise interest rates and charge fees. Lawmakers will now turn to reconciling differences with a similar bill approved by the House last month. Swift passage was expected given that the Senate version received so much bipartisan support and that the White House has pressed for action.

Democrats stall funding to close Guantanamo prison

WASHINGTON – Under pressure from Republicans and concerned about the politics of relocating terrorism suspects on U.S. soil, Senate Democrats rejected President Obama’s request for funding to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and vowed to withhold federal dollars until the president decides the fate of the facility’s 240 detainees. The decision represents a potentially serious setback for Obama, who as a candidate vowed to close Guantanamo and who signed an executive order beginning the process soon after he took office.

Congress approves spending plan

WASHINGTON – The Democratically controlled Congress on Wednesday easily approved a $3.4 trillion spending plan, setting the stage for President Barack Obama to pursue the first major overhaul of the nation’s health care system in a generation along with other far-reaching domestic initiatives. Despite a persistent recession and soaring budget deficits, Democrats overwhelmingly endorsed the president’s request for hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending over the next decade for college loans, early childhood education programs, veterans’ benefits and investments in renewable energy.

Specter says he’s switching from GOP to Dems

WASHINGTON — Veteran Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania disclosed plans Tuesday to switch parties, a move intended to boost his chances of winning re-election next year that also will push Democrats within one seat of a 60-vote filibuster-resistant majority.

Democrats forge budget agreement

WASHINGTON – Congressional Democrats sealed an agreement Monday night on a budget plan that would help President Barack Obama overhaul the health care system but allows his signature tax cut for most workers to expire after next year. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., announced the agreement and key details in a statement.

Senate votes to keep sales tax deduction

WASHINGTON – The Senate fulfilled a dream for taxpayers in several states without income taxes by making permanent the sales tax deductions on their federal income tax. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., led the effort on the Senate floor with an amendment to the federal budget bill for fiscal 2010. The amendment, which passed by voice vote and still must be agreed to by the House, makes good on the reinstitution of the deduction for taxpayers who itemize by then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, in 2004. The deduction has been extended on a piecemeal basis ever since.

Congress advances huge budget plan

WASHINGTON – Congressional Democrats overwhelmingly embraced President Obama’s ambitious and expensive agenda for the nation Thursday, endorsing a $3.6 trillion spending plan that sets the stage for the president to pursue his most far-reaching priorities. Voting along party lines, the House and Senate approved budget blueprints that would trim Obama’s spending proposals for the fiscal year that begins in October and curtail his plans to cut taxes. The blueprints, however, would permit work to begin on the central goals of Obama’s presidency: an expansion of health care coverage for the uninsured, more money for college loans and a cap-and-trade system to reduce gases that contribute to global warming.

Senate again passes expanded wilderness bill

WASHINGTON – For the second time this year, the Senate has passed a long-delayed bill to set aside more than 2 million acres in nine states as protected wilderness, from a California mountain range to a forest in Virginia. The 77-20 vote on Thursday sends the bill to the House, where final legislative approval could come as early as next week.