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Will White House scandals hurt Obamacare?

Political scandals have strange ways of causing collateral damage, and Republicans are hoping the furor over federal tax enforcers singling out conservative groups will ensnare their biggest target: President Barack Obama’s health care law. But no one appears to have connected the factual dots yet, and it’s unclear whether they will. The Internal Revenue Service has a major role in carrying out the health care law, because financial assistance to help the uninsured afford coverage will be funneled through the tax system. At the same time, the IRS is also responsible for penalties on individuals and employers who fail to
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Budget official tapped to run troubled IRS

President Barack Obama picked a senior White House budget official to become the acting head of the Internal Revenue Service on Thursday, the same day another top official announced plans to leave the agency amid the controversy over agents targeting tea party groups. Obama named longtime civil servant Daniel Werfel as the acting IRS commissioner. Werfel, 42, currently serves as controller of the Office of Management and Budget, making him a key player in implementing recent automatic spending cuts known as the sequester. “Throughout his career working in both Democratic and Republican administrations, Danny has proven an effective leader who
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Ousted IRS boss stonewalls Congressional committee

The outgoing head of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service angered Republican lawmakers on Friday by resisting their demands that he identify who at the tax-collection agency had inappropriately targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny. But during the first hearing into a growing IRS scandal that could preoccupy Washington for months, Republicans did learn that a top official in President Barack Obama’s administration knew that the IRS was looking into targeting by the tax agency nearly a year ago. That detail could encourage Republicans’ efforts to link the scandal to the White House as the administration faces a series of setbacks
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Immigration deal reached in House

Prospects for passage of a major immigration bill improved on Thursday when a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives declared they had reached a tentative deal, resolving disputes that had threatened to torpedo negotiations. The breakthrough came at the end of a two-hour private meeting of seven Republican and Democratic negotiators. The eighth negotiator in this so-called House Gang of Eight was unavailable after undergoing surgery on Wednesday. The final sticking point, according to congressional sources, was over whether illegal immigrants now in the United States who gain legal status under the bill could participate in the
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Arizona’s immigration law a monumental failure

The immigration debate in Arizona reached a boiling point in 2007 when the state passed a groundbreaking law targeting those often blamed with fueling the nation’s border woes: Employers who hire immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. The law marked a bold step by a state into an area that had long been the domain of the federal government, and it paved the way for Arizona’s landmark 2010 immigration law. It also represented a key moment in the immigration battles that continue today as Congress mulls a proposed overhaul of the immigration system. But an examination of the law by
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Lawmakers set to grill fired IRS boss

Lawmakers are ready to question the ousted head of the Internal Revenue Service as Congress holds its first hearing on the tougher scrutiny the IRS gave tea party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. With the scandal joining the parade of political headaches buffeting President Barack Obama, the Republican-run House Ways and Means Committee planned to question the agency’s ousted chief, Steven Miller, on Friday. Miller, acting director until he resigned Wednesday, seems sure to get a hostile reception from the committee. Members of both parties have spent the past week bitterly chastising the agency for abandoning
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Army sexual harassment boss jailed

The manager of the sexual harassment and assault response program at Fort Campbell, Ky., was arrested in a domestic dispute and relieved of his post, authorities said Thursday. Lt. Col. Darin Haas (HAHZ’) turned himself in to police in Clarksville, Tenn., late Wednesday on charges of violating an order of protection, and stalking, authorities said Thursday. Master Sgt. Pete Mayes, a spokesman for the massive Army post on the Tennessee-Kentucky line, said Haas was immediately removed as manager of a program meant to prevent sexual harassment and assault and encourage equal opportunity. Haas, 42, and his ex-wife have orders of
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IRS boss fired but outcry over abuse will continue

Don’t look for the outcry over the Internal Revenue Service‘s improper targeting of tea party groups to subside with the ouster of the agency’s acting commissioner. Three congressional committees are investigating and the FBI is looking into potential civil rights violations at the IRS, Attorney General Eric Holder said. Other potential crimes include making false statements to authorities and violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in some partisan political activities, Holder said. President Barack Obama said Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew had asked for and accepted Steven T. Miller’s resignation. “Americans are right to be angry about
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Repubicans not satisfied with release of Benghazi emails

The White House release of some 100 pages of emails and notes about the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year has failed to satisfy congressional Republicans, who are demanding more information. “Why not release all of the unclassified documents?” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “The president has repeatedly said that when he gets new information, he’ll release it to the public. Why not release — instead of the hand-picked ones — why not release all the unclassified documents?” A spokesman for House Speaker John
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A White House in full damage-control mode

With no sign of an end to three mushrooming scandals, the White House acknowledged the rising political dangers on Wednesday by launching a concerted effort at damage control. In a whirlwind few hours, the administration moved forcefully to counter criticism of its handling of the deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya, the seizure of reporters’ phone records in a Justice Department leak investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service‘s targeting of conservative groups for extra scrutiny. In the most aggressive response, President Barack Obama ousted the acting IRS commissioner on Wednesday evening. It was the sort of concerted response that Obama’s political
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