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Obama tries eating out as new way to reach Republicans

Shifting course in the face of political gridlock, President Barack Obama is making rare overtures to rank-and-file Republicans, inviting GOP senators to dinner Wednesday, planning visits to Capitol Hill and working the phones with lawmakers. Obama’s efforts are aimed at jumpstarting budget talks and rallying support for his proposals on immigration and gun control. The president’s new charm offensive underscores the limitations of his earlier attempts to use public pressure, rather than direct engagement, to win Republican cooperation. That strategy proved futile in recent weeks, as the White House and Congress failed to prevent $85 billion in automatic budget cuts
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White House tours cancelled but Capitol visits continue on

If your public tour of the White House has now been canceled, House Speaker John Boehner says come visit the Capitol instead. Boehner says tours of that building will continue, despite mandatory spending cuts that led the U.S. Secret Service and the National Park Service on Tuesday to announce that public tours of the White House will end, starting Saturday, until further notice. The Republican speaker made the tit-for-tat announcement in a letter to his Ohio constituents on Tuesday, following news about the suspension of White House tours. His office released the letter on Wednesday. “While I’m disappointed the White
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Obama’s public approval rating drops as Americans blame him for fiscal mess

Less than two months into his second term, President Barack Obama’s approval rating has dropped and Americans blame him and his fellow Democrats almost as much as his Republican opponents for a fiscal mess. A Reuters/Ipsos online poll released on Wednesday showed 43 percent of people approve of Obama’s handling of his job, down 7 percentage points from February 19. Most of that steep drop came in the week to February 26 when it was becoming clear that Washington was going to be unable to put aside partisan differences and agree to halt automatic budget cuts which started last Friday.
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Some signs of cooperation between sides on budget debacle

The Obama administration and congressional Republicans are quietly working in tandem to blunt the impact of short-term spending cuts that kicked in with dire White House warnings a few days ago, with both sides eager to pocket the full savings for deficit reduction as they pivot to a new clash over Medicare. The overall size of the cuts remains in place: $85 billion in reductions through the end of the budget year on Sept. 30, half from defense and half from domestic programs as diverse as education, parks and payments to doctors and hospitals treating Medicare patients. But legislation drafted
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Obama faces widespread GOP skepticism on budget dealings

President Barack Obama must work with a deeply skeptical partner as he tries to undo painful spending cuts and set U.S. finances on a more sustainable course: the liberal wing of his own party. While Republicans have dug in their heels against further tax increases, many of Obama’s fellow Democrats have refused to consider cuts to popular health and retirement programs that are projected to eat up a growing slice of the nation’s resources. As a result, the lion’s share of deficit-reduction efforts so far – apart from tax increases – have come from cuts to military and domestic programs,
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For first time, federal budget cuts affect Washington, DC

To get a sense of just how much federal government spending influences the Washington metropolitan area, all you have to do is listen to the ads on an all-news radio station there. Instead of promoting happy hours and nightclubs, WTOP’s commercials are replete with buzzwords about cloud computing and fulfilling mission statements — pitches by IT consultants and contractors trying to land business with federal agencies. And the storm that was heading for the Mid-Atlantic on Tuesday? It’s been dubbed “snowquester,” a play on the D.C. wonk jargon that is used to describe the $85 billion that must be cut
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Ashley Judd’s potential run against McConnell scares the hell out of Republicans

Actress and Democratic activist Ashley Judd says she is considering a run against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky and that thought alone is sending reactionary Republicans into convulsions. The GOP attack machine is in full gear, denouncing Judd as a flake with outlandish views and doing anything they can to defend McConnell, a lackluster Senate leader with a history of racism and his own off-the-wall comments. The campaign, spearheaded by the National Republican Senatorial Committee and funded by right-wing fatcats, showcases the length the party will go to tar and feather anyone who thinks of taking on one
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Dominican woman recants sex claim against Sen. Menendez

A Dominican woman who previously stated in a video that she was paid to have sex with Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey now says the allegations were false, according to a sworn statement released by a lawyer on Monday. The notarized affidavit was distributed by a prominent Dominican lawyer and friend of Menendez, Vinicio Castillo, who said it had been handed over to prosecutors. Castillo is not acting as the lawyer to the woman. In her sworn statement, the woman, Nexis de los Santos Santana, denied ever meeting Menendez and said she never agreed to be filmed. Menendez, a
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The NRA’s new threat: ‘We will fight gun control laws in the courts’

Wayne LaPierre — the National Rifle Association honcho who doesn’t believe any court in the land should ever have jurisdiction over those who own, carry and use guns — has one use for the legal system:  He intends to use courts to fight any gun control laws that pass Congress. Said LaPierre when Field & Steam magazine asked him about how the pro-gun organization might react to any new laws: There will definitely be legal challenges. The Second Amendment is one of our most basic freedoms and we’re going to stand up for this freedom in every way possible, whether
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Republicans propose funding measure to help Pentagon, avoid government shutdown

Republicans controlling the House moved Monday to give the Pentagon more money for military readiness while easing the pain felt by such agencies as the FBI and the Border Patrol from the across-the-board spending cuts that are just starting to take effect. The effort is part of a huge spending measure that would fund day-to-day federal operations through September — and head off a potential government shutdown later this month. The measure would leave in place automatic cuts of 5 percent to domestic agencies and 7.8 percent to the Pentagon ordered by President Barack Obama Friday night after months of
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