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New Senate compromise on restoring lower college loan rates

Senators are ready to offer students a better deal on their college loans this fall, but future classes could see higher interest rates. The Senate could vote as early as Thursday on a bipartisan compromise that heads off a costly increase for returning students. The compromise could be a good deal for students through the 2015 academic year, but then interest rates are expected to climb above where they were when students left campus this spring. Under the deal, all undergraduates this fall would borrow at 3.85 percent interest rates. Graduate students would have access to loans at 5.4 percent
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So, what will the future economy be? Who knows?

Politicians and economists are straining to get a clearer view of what the economy will look like a year from now, when midterm political campaigns are heating up. Republicans see the glass as half-empty; Democrats view it as half-full. And the economists aren’t sure. “Our economy is recovering at the slowest rate since World War II,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, lamented to a group of manufacturers. “Quarter after quarter, the growth numbers barely move, unemployment stays about the same.” Democrats beg to differ. “There are a lot of reasons for us to feel optimistic about where we’re headed as
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IRS officials who targeted tea party will face wrath on Capitol Hill

Internal Revenue Service officials who took part in added scrutiny of conservative groups seeking tax exemptions will testify publicly for the first time on Thursday before U.S. lawmakers, in an affair that has become increasingly partisan. The hearing comes two months into the controversy, set off in May when an inspector general’s report said the IRS inappropriately targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups for added review of their applications for tax exemptions. Republicans say the IRS actions were influenced by political officials in Washington. Democratic and Republican congressional investigators for the House of Representatives’ Oversight and Government Reform Committee
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Anger remains in Congress over government spying on Americans

Six weeks after a leaked document exposed the scope of the government’s surveillance of Americans’ phone records, many Democrats and some Republicans are still angry about it. On Wednesday, key administration figures from the intelligence world will appear before the House Judiciary Committee to answer another round of questions. The questioners include Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the Republican who sponsored the USA Patriot Act, which governs the collection of phone records. Sensenbrenner has said he was “extremely troubled” by the administration’s legal interpretation that permitted the government to gather hundreds of millions of Americans’ phone records. Shortly after the surveillance was
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Senate avoids a meltdown…for now

A bipartisan Senate pact has smoothed the confirmation path for a batch of President Barack Obama’s nominations and removed, for now, a Democratic threat to impose procedural changes weakening minority Republicans’ clout. Yet there are no guarantees that the conflict won’t flare anew the next time a White House appointment stirs controversy. A day after both parties celebrated an agreement averting a bitter fight over Senate rules, the chamber planned to vote Wednesday on one of Obama’s picks, Fred Hochberg to be president of the Export-Import Bank. Also possible this week are roll calls on Labor Secretary-designate Tom Perez and
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Liz Cheney: Latest tea party challenger to GOP establishment

Liz Cheney says her GOP primary challenge to Wyoming’s senior U.S. senator is about sending a “new generation” to Washington. But it has all the hallmarks of the same divisions that have roiled the Republican Party nationally for years. While he’s no moderate, incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi has shown he is willing to compromise occasionally with Democrats, such as when he supported a sales tax on Internet purchases. But Cheney, the elder daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, suggests that such compromise often isn’t good enough for a true conservative. “I’m running because I’m concerned about the direction of
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Military often drops the ball on sexual abuse investigations

The U.S. military in many cases does not properly investigate allegations of sexual assault, sometimes failing to collect key evidence, fully examine crime scenes or interview witnesses, a probe by the Pentagon‘s inspector general found. The report, which was released to the public on Monday, came as Congress weighs measures that would overhaul how the military handles sexual assault cases after a string of high-profile scandals in the armed forces. The inspector general’s review of 501 criminal investigations in 2012 included cases of rape and aggravated sexual assault. Although it found some flaws in the investigations 72 percent of the
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Senators head for rowdy showdown on rule changes

Senators prepared for a potentially rancorous day Tuesday — even by recent standards of partisan unpleasantness — as Democratic leaders threatened to change filibuster rules to stop Republicans from blocking White House nominees for top executive jobs. Several Senate votes were scheduled to test whether Republicans will allow simple-majority confirmations of a handful of long-stalled nominations. Some senators held out hopes for a breakthrough early Tuesday after one didn’t come in a rare, three-hour private meeting of nearly all 100 senators Monday night. If neither side retreats, the two parties could be on a collision course, with potentially big ramifications
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Obama drops passion from public reaction to Trayvon Martin case

When President Barack Obama first addressed the death of Trayvon Martin last year, he did so passionately, declaring that if he had a son, he would look like the slain 17-year-old. His powerful and personal commentary marked a rare public reflection on race from the nation’s first black president. But now, with the man who fatally shot Martin acquitted and the burden of any future charges squarely on his own administration, Obama is seeking to inject calm into a case that has inflamed passions, including his own. In a brief statement, the president called Martin’s killing a “tragedy” but implored
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Obama goes political over Trayvon Martin case

President Barack Obama is using the death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of the man who shot him to push his anti-gun agenda. Obama, in a statement released Sunday, called Martin’s death a tragedy for America and said Americans should ask themselves if they’re doing all they can to stem gun violence, and what can be done to prevent future tragedies like the Florida shooting The President said he knows the not-guilty verdict reached late Saturday elicited strong passions around the country. He asked  all Americans respect the call for calm reflection and, so far, most of the rallies
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