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IRS official who took the fifth before Congress replaced

The Internal Revenue Service official who led the unit that targeted tea party groups and publicly disclosed the activity has been replaced, making her the third top IRS official moved aside since the episode was revealed two weeks ago. Lois Lerner was put on administrative leave on Thursday, said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and two congressional aides. Without naming Lerner, new Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel emailed employees that 27-year IRS veteran Ken Corbin would become acting head of the exempt organizations division — a move the Obama administration was hoping would help ease the controversy. Grassley said Lerner rejected
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Unions not lining up behind Obamacare

When President Barack Obama pushed his health care overhaul plan through Congress, he counted labor unions among his strongest supporters. But some unions leaders have grown frustrated and angry about what they say are unexpected consequences of the new law — problems that they say could jeopardize the health benefits offered to millions of their members. The issue could create a political headache next year for Democrats facing re-election if disgruntled union members believe the Obama administration and Congress aren’t working to fix the problem. “It makes an untruth out of what the president said, that if you like your
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Attempts to broaden scandal beyond IRS not working so far

Three days of congressional hearings about the Internal Revenue Service‘s targeting of conservative political groups have lawmakers looking for ways to widen an investigation that has so far been largely contained within the tax collection agency. More than 11 hours of testimony and an inspector general’s report have revealed plenty of wrongdoing within the IRS. But so far, investigators have not produced evidence that anyone outside the IRS authorized the targeting, or even knew about it before a few weeks ago. They will keep trying. Three congressional committees are investigating the matter, and the leaders of those committees say they
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Obama approval rating remains pretty much the same

The economy is recovering, the White House is dealing with multiple controversies, and President Barack Obama appears generally unaffected either way. Several recent polls show the president sustaining an overall approval rating around 50 percent, with no major uptick from gains in housing, jobs and the stock market, and no downtick from the recent storms over the terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS and a leak investigations that has swept up the phone records of Associated Press journalists. The data suggests the economy could be insulating Obama from the immediate troubles confronting his
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Obama’s national security speech looks at drones, Gitmo

President Barack Obama on Thursday is expected to address some of the thornier aspects of national security policy, including drone strikes, the prison at Guantanamo Bay and the dire threats Americans continue to face — even from fellow citizens. On the eve of the president’s speech at the National Defense University, the Obama administration revealed for the first time that a fourth American citizen had been killed in secretive drone strikes abroad. The killings of three other Americans in counterterror operations since 2009 were known before a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy
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House set to vote on varible-rate student loans

House lawmakers are ready to pass legislation that links student loan rates to the financial markets in spite of a veto threat from President Barack Obama. Supported by Republicans, the bill would avoid a rate increase for students with new subsidized Stafford loans if lawmakers pass it, as expected, on Thursday. Democrats generally opposed the measure, which would provide some students a deal in the first years of the new system before ratcheting up interest rates later. “As the economy continues to recover and at a time when market interest rates are at historic lows, more than 7 million students
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Former IRS boss pleads ignorance on targeting of right-wing groups

The man who led the Internal Revenue Service when it was giving extra scrutiny to tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status told Congress on Tuesday that he knew little about what was happening while he was still commissioner. Douglas Shulman, who vacated his position last November when his five-year term expired, told the Senate Finance Committee he didn’t learn all the facts until he read last week’s report by a Treasury inspector general confirming the targeting strategy. In his first public remarks since the story broke, Shulman said: “I agree this is an issue that when someone
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Star witness will take the fifth in IRS hearing

  A House committee taking Congress’ latest look at the Internal Revenue Service‘s mistreatment of tea party groups will apparently have to do so without input from the star witness. IRS official Lois Lerner will invoke her constitutional right to not answer questions on Wednesday at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, her lawyer told the panel in a letter. Lerner triggered the recent IRS uproar at a legal conference nearly two weeks ago, when she revealed that the agency had subjected tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status to extra scrutiny during parts of the
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Immigration bill headed to full Senate

A far-reaching bill to remake the nation’s immigration system is headed to the full Senate, where tough battles are brewing on gay marriage, border security and other contentious issues, with the outcome impossible to predict. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure 13-5 Tuesday night, setting up an epic showdown on the Senate floor after Congress’ Memorial Day recess. The legislation is one of President Barack Obama’s top domestic priorities — yet it also gives the Republican Party a chance to recast itself as more appealing to minorities. Many involved still vividly recall the last time the Senate took up
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A Weiner returns to politics to run for New York City Mayor

Two years after resigning from Congress in a lewd photo scandal, former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner announced in a video message early on Wednesday he is running for New York City mayor. “I made some big mistakes and I know I let a lot of people down, but I also learned some tough lessons,” Weiner said in the video. “I’m running because I’ve been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it my entire life.” The announcement promises to shake up the race to replace Mayor Michael Bloomberg nearly four months before the September 10 Democratic primary,
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