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Lobbyists launch major push on immigration legislation

Supporters of a U.S. immigration reform bill are launching a push for the legislation this week that includes phone calls to lawmakers from Catholic bishops, visits to Capitol Hill from high-tech lobbyists and an ad blitz sponsored by organized labor. The lobbying frenzy is aimed at overcoming resistance among many Republicans in the House of Representatives to the biggest overhaul of U.S. immigration laws in nearly 30 years. Immigration reform, President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority, passed the Democratic-led Senate with bipartisan support but its prospects in the Republican-led House are bleak. While House votes could still be a long
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So, who will follow Rick Perry as governor of Texas?

Even as he announced he wasn’t running for governor again, Rick Perry implored Texans not to rock the political boat too much in choosing a successor. Although he stopped short of endorsing his Republican heir apparent, state Attorney General Greg Abbott, there was little debate that’s who Perry was referring to when he repeated a famous quote from legendary University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal. “You gotta dance with the one that brung ya,” Perry quipped, just before announcing that he wouldn’t seek to continue in the office. Abbott is popular with both grassroots tea party activists and mainstream
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America’s MIA debable: A shameful disgrace

The Pentagon‘s effort to account for tens of thousands of Americans missing in action from foreign wars is so inept, mismanaged and wasteful that it risks descending from “dysfunction to total failure,” according to an internal study suppressed by military officials. Largely beyond the public spotlight, the decades-old pursuit of bones and other MIA evidence is sluggish, often duplicative and subjected to too little scientific rigor, the report says. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the internal study after Freedom of Information Act requests for it by others were denied. The report paints a picture of a Joint POW/MIA
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McConnell forms uneasy but necessary alliance with Paul

To cover his political flank, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has forged an alliance with tea party darling Rand Paul, picked up support from other national tea party leaders and brought in a campaign manager from the upper echelons of the tea party movement. The GOP’s fiscally conservative wing has proven particularly powerful in Kentucky, and elsewhere it has felled incumbents including McConnell’s longtime Republican colleague U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana. But McConnell’s efforts to make inroads with the tea party movement have clearly paid off, virtually ensuring that no would-be challenger can get the kind of infusion of
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Hillary Clinton’s delecate balancing act

Hillary Rodham Clinton is trying to strike the right balance between staying out of the daily political maelstrom and setting herself up for a possible second presidential run. But her fans and foes are making that difficult. Nearly six months after departing the State Department, Clinton finds herself in the middle of an early effort by both parties to prepare for her return to politics even as she keeps to a schedule of highly paid private speeches, work on her book and her family’s global foundation. Clinton has not said whether she’ll seek the White House in 2016 but grassroots
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New York’s former prostitute-loving governor wants another political job

A person close to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer says he is planning a return to political life with a run for New York City comptroller. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Spitzer was only speaking to The New York Times. Spitzer, a Democrat, stepped down from the governor’s office in 2008 over a prostitution scandal. Spitzer has spoken in the past about the potential for the comptroller’s job to look into corporate misdeeds. That would be similar to what he did as the state’s attorney general. Candidates for citywide offices like comptroller have to have 3,750 signatures from
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Can Congress overcome its petty differences and actually do something?

Republicans and Democrats put goodwill to the test as Congress returns this week to potentially incendiary fights over nominations, unresolved disputes over student loans and the farm bill, and the uncertainty of whether lawmakers have the political will to rewrite the nation’s immigration laws. The rare cooperation on display in the Senate last month with passage of a bipartisan immigration bill could be wiped out immediately if Majority Leader Harry Reid, frustrated with minority Republicans’ delaying tactics on judges and nominations, tries to change the Senate rules by scrapping the three-fifths majority for a simple majority. Republican leader Mitch McConnell
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Gay marriage ruling affecting other cases

When the Supreme Court struck down part of an anti-gay marriage law, Justice Anthony Kennedy took pains in his majority opinion to say the ruling applied only to legally married same-sex couples seeking benefits from the federal government. But judges and lawyers representing same-sex couples are already using Kennedy’s language and reasoning in other cases about the right to marry. It’s a predictable next step in a long-term, incremental legal strategy that is being used at both the state and federal levels, and in state legislatures and executive mansions as well as the courts, to build public and official acceptance
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Gabrielle Giffords: A powerful voice for gun congrol

Thirty months after she was shot through the head, former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords sits in a New Hampshire restaurant facing parents of children killed in the nation’s latest school shooting. They are here to talk political strategy, but Giffords doesn’t say much. She doesn’t have to. The 43-year-old Democrat has become the face of the fight for gun control — a woman now known as much for her actions as her words as she recovers from a 2011 attack that forever changed her life and ended six others. Giffords has already traveled more than 8,000 miles this week, her
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Obama fights to keep U.S. surveillance court secret

The Obama administration on Friday urged a secret U.S. court that oversees surveillance programs to reject a request by a civil liberties group to see court opinions used to underpin a massive phone records database. Justice Department lawyers said in papers filed in the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the court’s opinions are a unique exception to the wide access the public typically has to court records in the United States. If the public had a right to any opinion from the surveillance court, the possible harms would be “real and significant, and, quite frankly, beyond debate,” the lawyers
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