Senate may face contentious debate on Iran nuclear bill

U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, walks into the Republicans' weekly policy lunch at the U.S. Capitol in WashingtonBy Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate could plunge into a heated debate on legislation giving Congress the power to review a nuclear deal with Iran as soon as Wednesday, as some Republicans sought to change the bill to take a harder line on any agreement. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 19-0 last week for a compromise version of the bill, in a rare display of bipartisan unity in the deeply divided Congress. Lawmakers said on Tuesday the full Senate could begin debate on Wednesday or Thursday, after Senate leaders reached an agreement ending an impasse over a human trafficking bill and President Barack Obama's nominee to be attorney general. Republican members of the Foreign Relations committee had offered dozens of amendments seeking to make the bill tougher, but most agreed to put aside their concerns in order to reach a compromise that could pass the full Senate and overcome Obama's main objections.

Tennessee governor expected to sign bill requiring abortion waiting period
By Tim Ghianni NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) - Tennessee abortion clinics will have to be licensed as surgical centers and women will be required to wait 48 hours after counseling before undergoing an abortion under bills approved by state lawmakers on Tuesday. Republican Governor Bill Haslam is expected to sign both measures into law when they get to him, a spokesman said. Tennessee would join 22 states that require abortion providers to meet ambulatory surgical center standards and 26 states that have waiting periods, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports access to abortion. The measures follow a Tennessee amendment approved by voters in November that allows the state General Assembly to change abortion policies for the first time since the state Supreme Court struck down abortion restrictions in 2000.

Obama, lawmakers mingle to mark rare bipartisan breakthrough

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, kisses House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., right, in the Rose Garden of the White House before President Barack Obama's remarks to members of Congress, Tuesday, April 21, 2015 in Washington. Obama thanked those who supported H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 to improve the affordability and quality of health care for the youngest and oldest in the nation. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner pecked Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on the cheek. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy conferred amiably with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. Republicans and White House officials slapped each other on the back.

Sage-grouse in California, Nevada excluded from federal protection
The U.S. government denied protection on Tuesday to a type of prairie bird found in Nevada and California in a victory for mining and ranching groups who feared sage-grouse protections could restrict their livelihoods. Federal officials said the move to exempt the so-called bi-state population of greater sage grouse from Endangered Species Act protection comes as the federal government considers whether to impose measures to protect a broader species of the bird that lives in nearly a dozen U.S. states. The U.S. Department of the Interior said a key factor in Tuesday's decision was a $45 million conservation plan developed by federal and state officials and others to ensure the health of the animal. It has sound science behind it, that's the only way we can make these decisions" U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said at an event in Reno, Nevada, where she was joined by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican.

Charles Koch may back several Republicans in 2016 presidential race: paper
Conservative billionaire Charles Koch is considering giving money to several candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination before settling on a single recipient, USA Today reported on Tuesday. Koch told the newspaper he was thinking about throwing his weight into the presidential primaries for the first time. Charles said he and his brother David Koch had identified five candidates with the right message and "a good chance of getting elected." They are Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida, he said.

U.S. senators call for humanitarian safe zones in Syria
Republican and Democratic U.S. senators called on President Barack Obama on Tuesday to create and enforce humanitarian safe zones in Syria, amid international concerns about the dire conditions faced by millions of people displaced by the war. "The staggering human displacement, killing and destruction are an affront to the civilized world and must be stopped," Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Democrats Richard Durbin and Tim Kaine wrote to Obama in a letter seen by Reuters. The four-year-long war in Syria has killed more than 220,000 people and displaced millions of others. The lawmakers urged Obama to establish one or more safe zones, with "necessary enforcement mechanisms" including air assets, and securing of the border area by Turkey.

Lawmakers stand by New York Senate leader amid federal probe

Lawmakers stand by New York Senate leader amid federal probeRepublican lawmakers in New York backed Senate Leader Dean Skelos on Tuesday amid a federal investigation into whether he influenced Nassau County's decision to award a $12 million contract to a company ...

Maine governor wants constitutional amendment to abolish state income tax
By Dave Sherwood BRUNSWICK, Maine (Reuters) - Maine Governor Paul LePage on Tuesday proposed amending the state's constitution to eliminate the income tax, telling lawmakers the strategy was the best way to make the tax cut he desires permanent. The proposal, opposed by Democrats who control the state House of Representatives, would insert language in the state's 195-year old Constitution permanently prohibiting the Legislature from imposing "a tax upon the income of any person," beginning in 2020. In a letter last week urging lawmakers to co-sponsor his bill, LePage, a Republican, said the bill would lift a burden from Maine's large population of retirees who live on fixed incomes, as well as benefit higher-income “job creators,” although not without sacrifice, he wrote. "I realize I am asking elected officials to voluntarily give up power they currently wield," wrote LePage, who first announced his intention to eliminate the income tax in January.

U.S. congressman who posed with gun in office could face probe
By Lacey Johnson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Republican member of Congress who posed for a photo with an assault rifle in his office could face investigation for violating the District of Columbia’s gun laws, the city's attorney general’s office said on Tuesday. Representative Ken Buck, of Colorado, on Thursday tweeted a picture of himself and Representative Trey Gowdy, a Republican from South Carolina, holding an AR-15 rifle. Reporters alerted the office of District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine to the photo, and the information was passed on to the city's Metropolitan Police Department to investigate, said spokesman Robert Marus.

GOP leaders back LePage income tax constitutional amendment
Republican leaders in the House and Senate are backing Gov. Paul LePage's effort to amend the constitution to abolish the income tax. In a letter sent to the top lawmakers from both parties Monday, LePage ...

5 Things to know about Bush's experiment in campaign finance

In this April 17, 2015, photo, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush smiles while speaking to reporters after a "Politics and Eggs" event, a breakfast fixture for 2016 presidential prospects at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Bush is preparing to embark on an experiment in presidential politics: delegating many of the nuts-and-bolts tasks of seeking the White House to a separate political organization that can raise unlimited amounts of campaign cash. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican Jeb Bush may reshape the traditional presidential campaign with his plan to turn over some functions to a super PAC.

Struggling to remember the name of Jeb Bush's super PAC? Here's why

Former Florida Governor and probable 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in NashuaBy Emily Flitter NEW YORK (Reuters) - It's hard to remember whether Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush's super PAC is called America Rising or Right to Rise. The Bush super PAC is in fact Right to Rise. America Rising is another political action committee, unconnected to Bush, that plans to raise and spend unlimited sums of money, although it does share one goal in common with Right to Rise: to defeat Hillary Clinton's bid for the Democratic nomination in 2016. They also share some thematic similarity with the group supporting another Republican presidential hopeful, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (Our American Revival), which isn't too different from groups advocating for potential candidates New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (America Leads) and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (Pursuing America's Greatness).

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