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Senate, including five Republicans, say ‘nada’ to Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed budget

Five Republicans joined all the Democrats in the Senate to overwhelmingly rejecte a balanced budget plan offered as a symbolic but hopeless cause by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. The measure, which failed on a 40-59 vote. The most prominent tea partyers in the Senate — Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah — joined two other Republicans in sinking the measure, which claimed a balanced budget in a decade but also $600 billion-plus in tax revenues on the wealthy, enacted in January, to reach the goal. Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and
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Congress to Post Office: ‘You will deliver mail on Saturday’

Congress foiled the financially beleaguered U.S. Postal Service‘s plan to end Saturday delivery of first-class mail when it passed legislation on Thursday requiring six-day delivery. The Postal Service, which lost $16 billion last year, said last month it wanted to switch to five-day mail service to save $2 billion annually. Congress traditionally has included a provision in legislation to fund the federal government each year that has prevented the Postal Service from reducing delivery service. The Postal Service had asked Congress not to include the provision this time around. Despite the request, the House of Representatives on Thursday gave final
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Senate Leader says gun control bill must include expanded background checks

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Thursday that to be effective any gun-control bill that passes his chamber must include universal background checks, an embattled centerpiece of the White House’s bid to curb gun violence. Reid voiced hope that an elusive bipartisan deal can soon be reached to require virtually all firearm purchasers to be screened for criminal records and possible mental health problems. Republicans have voiced concerns that a proposed record-keeping provision in private sales could lead to registration, something that gun-rights groups have long opposed. But Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said in a statement: “In order to
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Will the Senate actually pass a budget?

Democrats controlling the Senate appear on track to pass their first budget in four years, promising a second, almost $1 trillion round of tax increases on top of more than $600 billion in higher taxes on the wealthy enacted in January. The nonbinding but politically symbolic measure would protect safety-net programs for the poor and popular domestic priorities like education, health research and federal law enforcement agencies from cuts sought by House Republicans, who adopted a far more austere plan on Thursday morning. The Democratic plan caters to party stalwarts on the liberal edge of the spectrum just as the
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Three killed in shooting incident at Quantico Marine Base

Three people, including the suspect, were killed in a shooting at Marine Base Quantico, a base spokesman said. It began with a shooting around 11 p.m. Thursday that left one dead, said Lt. Agustin Solivan. That shooting lead to a standoff between authorities and the suspect, who was barricaded in barracks at the base. Authorities entered the barracks early Friday and found the suspect dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound along with a second victim. Solivan could not say what prompted authorities to enter the barracks. No names were immediately released but Solivan said the suspect and both victims were
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War soldiers on and so do war protesters

The protesters gather at noon every Friday in front of the Montpelier post office, sharing signs made up years ago to tell their little part of the world why they oppose the latest war involving the United States. There might be as few as two people in the midwinter cold, or as many as 20 at the height of summer. But a decade after the invasion of Iraq, protesters there and at similar demonstrations coast to coast still show up, determined to remind people that the U.S. is at war. “I believe there are many, many people who know in
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Sequester budget impacts on jobs are exaggerated

Deep government spending cuts are unlikely to weigh on employment as heavily as initially feared, with most of the impact reducing hours worked rather than payrolls, according to economists. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office last month estimated that the $85 billion in federal budget cuts known as the “sequester,” which started taking hold on March 1, would cost the economy about 750,000 jobs by the end of the year. Several economists have dismissed the CBO projection as too high and said in the worst case scenario, total job losses would probably be in the region of 300,000, partly because government
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House set to pass typical bill with huge budget cuts

A familiar budget plan to sharply cut safety-net programs for the poor and clamp down on domestic agencies performing the nuts-and-bolts programs of the government is cruising to passage in the tea party-flavored House. The Republican measure is advancing to the finish line in the House as the Senate starts a lengthy slog toward passage of a rival budget measure. It takes a sharply different view, restoring automatic cuts to agency budgets and increasing taxes by $1 trillion over the coming decade. The dueling budget plans are anchored on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum in Washington, appealing to core
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Obama visits Isreal amid low expectations

President Barack Obama faces a stony reception when he travels to the West Bank on Thursday for talks with Palestinian leaders who accuse him of letting Israel ride rough-shod over their dream of statehood. Obama has said he will not bring any new initiatives to try to revive long-dormant peace talks and has instead come to Israel and the Palestinian territories for simple consultations. Arriving in Israel on Wednesday, the main focus of initial discussions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to be pressing regional concerns, primarily Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the civil war in neighboring Syria. After repeated run-ins
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Low wage workers see lots of doom and gloom in the future

America’s lower-income workers have posted the biggest job gains since the deep 2007-09 recession — but few are bragging. As a workforce sector, those earning $35,000 or less annually are generally pessimistic about their finances and career prospects. Many see themselves as worse off now than during the recession, a two-part Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey of workers and employers shows. The survey revealed that many people at the lowest rung in the workplace view their jobs as a dead end. Half were “not too” or “not at all” confident that their jobs would help them achieve
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