Archives for White House

Obama signs budget deal, new defense bill

Rounding out a tough and frustrating year, President Barack Obama signed a bipartisan budget deal Thursday easing spending cuts and a defense bill cracking down on sexual assault in the military, as the president and Congress began pivoting to the midterm election year ahead. Obama put his signature on both hard-fought bills while vacationing in Hawaii, where he has been regrouping with his family since Saturday. The bill signing marks one of Obama’s last official acts in a year beset by a partial government shutdown, a near-default by the Treasury, a calamitous health care rollout and near-perpetual congressional gridlock. Although
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Obamacare’s line: ‘Don’t worry, bet happy’

The U.S. government said it was still processing thousands of sign-ups for health insurance under President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law on Tuesday as Americans made a final rush to obtain medical coverage in time for New Year’s Day. Citing nearly 2 million visits to the HealthCare.gov website and over 250,000 inquiries at call centers before Monday’s sign-up deadline, the government gave consumers an extra day to enroll by midnight on Tuesday for January coverage. It added flexibility by encouraging consumers to contact government call centers if they had started but not been able to finish their applications, without specifying
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President enrolls for Obamacare but won’t use it

He won’t use it, and he didn’t actually sign up for it himself, but President Barack Obama has enrolled for health coverage through the new insurance exchanges. Announcing his enrollment Monday, the White House called it a symbolic show of Obama’s support for the fledgling exchanges where millions of Americans must buy insurance or face a penalty. Ironically, it also served as a reminder of just how complex and sometimes daunting the process can be. Obama, like so many other Americans, couldn’t use the website. “The complicated nature of the president’s case required an in-person sign-up,” the White House said.
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Obama concentrates on year’s ups, not downs

Has the fifth year of his presidency been its worst? President Barack Obama laughs off such questions even as he acknowledges many months of frustrating ups and down. “That’s not how I think about it,” Obama told reporters during his annual end-of-the year news conference. Instead of brooding about tumbling approval ratings, the disastrous rollout of his signature health care law or the pile of unfinished domestic priorities, Obama looked ahead to the promise of 2014 and predicted “a breakthrough year for America.” Before he joined his family on Air Force One for a Christmas vacation in his home state
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Obama drops block to secret court ruling on NSA

The Obama administration has dropped its objection to the publication of a secret court opinion on the law that authorizes the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of millions of Americans’ telephone records. The Justice Department told the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in a filing Friday that the department won’t object if the court decides to publish nonclassified portions of its opinion that don’t harm an ongoing law enforcement investigation. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School had asked the court to release opinions on the meaning, scope and/or constitutionality of
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Sweeping defense bill headed to Obama for signature

The women of the Senate who led the fight to change how the military deals with sexual assault in its ranks are hailing passage of a comprehensive defense bill that now heads to President Barack Obama for his signature. The Senate voted 84-15 Thursday night for the $632.8 billion bill that covers combat pay, new ships, aircraft and military bases. Drawing the greatest attention were provisions cracking down on perpetrators of sexual assault and rape. The military’s handling of high-profile cases united Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate in a concerted effort to change the Uniform Code of Military Justice,
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Obama to nominate Baucus as China ambassador

President Barack Obama is looking to the Senate again to fill a top diplomatic post, with Democratic officials saying he intends to nominate six-term Sen. Max Baucus of Montana to be the next U.S. ambassador to China. Baucus, who announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election, is knowledgeable on trade issues as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee but better known for his work on that panel steering Obama’s health care overhaul into law three years ago. If confirmed by the Senate, Baucus would replace Ambassador Gary Locke, who plans to step down next year. The White
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Muted reaction in White House over budget deal

There were no champagne corks popping at the White House after Congress passed a two-year budget deal, no declarations of a new era of cooperation in President Barack Obama’s second term. Instead, the modest agreement that passed Wednesday served as a stark year-end reminder of how low expectations for Washington sank in 2013, particularly for a president who hoped his resounding re-election would clear the way for progress on immigration, the long-term debt and tax reform. The president’s advisers say they’re still searching for the larger meaning in the bipartisan budget deal, if there is one at all. At best,
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White House panel proposes curbs on NSA spying

A White House-appointed panel on Wednesday proposed curbs on some key National Security Agency surveillance operations, recommending limits on a program to collect records of billions of telephone calls and new tests before Washington spies on foreign leaders. Among the panel’s proposals, made in the wake of revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the most contentious may be its recommendation that the eavesdropping agency halt bulk collection of the phone call records, known as “metadata.” Instead, it said, those records should be held by telecommunications providers or a private third party. In a further limitation, the U.S. government would
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Tech execs to Obama: ‘Stop spying on Americans’

Technology company executives pressed President Barack Obama on Tuesday to rein in the U.S. government’s electronic spying after a court dealt a blow to the administration’s surveillance practices. Top executives from Apple Inc, Google Inc, Yahoo Inc, Netflix Inc, Comcast Corp, AT&T Inc, Microsoft Corp, Twitter Inc, Facebook Inc and other companies met privately for more than two hours with Obama and top White House aides. The session came as Obama and his national security team decide what recommendations to adopt from an outside panel’s review on constraining the activities of the National Security Agency without compromising U.S. national security.
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