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Obama set to sign Superstorm Sandy aid bill

President Barack Obama said he’ll sign a $50.5 billion emergency relief measure for Superstorm Sandy victims as soon as it lands on his desk. Three months after Sandy ravaged coastal areas in much of the Northeast, Obama chided lawmakers for taking their time to approve the funding even as he commended them for providing the long-awaited aid. “So while I had hoped Congress would provide this aid sooner, I applaud the lawmakers from both parties who helped shepherd this important package though,” Obama said in a statement late Monday. Despite opposition from conservatives concerned about adding billions of dollars to
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Feinstein admits assualt weapons ban faces a tough fight

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who’s leading the push to restore an assault weapon ban, acknowledged on Sunday that the effort faces tough odds to pass Congress and she blamed the nation’s largest gun-rights group. Feinstein, D-Calif., on Thursday introduced a bill that would prohibit 157 specific weapons and ammunition magazines that have more than 10 rounds. The White House and fellow Democrats are skeptical the measure is going anywhere, given lawmakers who are looking toward re-election might fear pro-gun voters and the National Rifle Association. “This has always been an uphill fight. This has never been easy. This is the hardest
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Obama to gun control advocates: Listen to rural voices

President Barack Obama urged gun control advocates to listen to views of rural Americans who use guns for hunting and said bridging a cultural divide in attitudes to gun ownership will be critical to his administration’s push to curb gun violence. “If you grew up and your dad gave you a hunting rifle when you were 10, and you went out and spent the day with him and your uncles, and that became part of your family’s traditions, you can see why you’d be pretty protective of that,” Obama said in an interview with The New Republic magazine published on
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Senators reach deal on immigration reform

A bipartisan group of leading senators has reached agreement on the principles of sweeping legislation to rewrite the nation’s immigration laws. The deal, which was to be announced at a news conference Monday afternoon, covers border security, guest workers and employer verification, as well as a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in this country. Although thorny details remain to be negotiated and success is far from certain, the development heralds the start of what could be the most significant effort in years toward overhauling the nation’s inefficient patchwork of immigration laws. President Barack Obama also
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Obama ways he will miss Hillary Clinton

President Barack Obama lauded Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as one of his closest advisers and said their shared vision for America’s role in the world persuaded his one-time rival — and potential successor — to be his top diplomat while he dealt with the shattered economy at home. During a joint interview that aired Sunday, Obama and Clinton chuckled as they described their partnership and stoked speculation that Obama may prefer Clinton to succeed him in the White House after the 2016 elections. Clinton is leaving Obama’s Cabinet soon, and speculation about the former first lady and senator
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Thousands march for gun control in Washington

Thousands of people, many holding signs with names of gun violence victims and messages such as “Ban Assault Weapons Now,” joined a rally for gun control on Saturday, marching from the Capitol to the Washington Monument. Leading the crowd were marchers with “We Are Sandy Hook” signs, paying tribute to victims of the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Washington Mayor Vincent Gray and other city officials marched alongside them. The crowd stretched for at least two blocks along Constitution Avenue. Participants held signs reading “Gun Control Now,” ”Stop NRA” and “What Would Jesus Pack?” among other messages. Other signs
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Paul Ryan to GOP: Be careful which fights you pick with Obama

Rep. Paul Ryan has a message for fellow Republicans: Let’s stick together and carefully pick our fights with President Barack Obama. In a speech Saturday to conservatives, the Wisconsin congressman and 2012 vice presidential nominee outlined a pragmatic approach for dealing with a second Obama administration. Saying that Obama would attempt to divide Republicans, Ryan urged them to avoid internal squabbles. “We can’t get rattled. We won’t play the villain in his morality plays. We have to stay united,” Ryan said at the National Review Institute’s weekend conference on the future of conservatism. “We have to show that if given
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Obama: Gun control advocates need to learn to listen

President Barack Obama says gun-control advocates should be better listeners in the debate over firearms in America. In an interview with The New Republic, Obama says he has “a profound respect” for the tradition of hunting that dates back for generations. “And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake. Part of being able to move this forward is understanding the reality of guns in urban areas are very different from the realities of guns in rural areas,” he says. Obama has called for a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines and
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No budget, no pay: An incredible idea whose time has come?

In an earlier era, a move like the one engineered by House GOP leaders to pass a “no budget, no pay” measure probably would have been stopped in its tracks. But with Congress’ approval ratings in the gutter, House lawmakers pushed aside questions about fairness and constitutionality and tacked the idea on to an unpopular, must-pass measure to increase the government’s borrowing cap. The measure temporarily would withhold pay from any member of the House or Senate whose chamber doesn’t pass a budget this year. The Senate is expected to approve it in the coming week, but only after leaders
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NRA lobbyist admits ad on Obama’s kids was a screw-up

One of the National Rifle Association’s senior lobbyists said an ad by the nation’s leading gun-rights group after a school shooting in Connecticut that refers to President Barack Obama’s children was “ill-advised.” Jim Baker, head of the federal affairs division at the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said he had made his views known to others at the powerful gun-rights organization. The ad, which cast Obama as hypocritical for having expressed skepticism about putting armed guards in schools, when “his kids are protected by armed guards at their schools,” drew widespread criticism when it first became public on January 15.
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