News Items

It appears the Department of Homeland Security will stay up and running at least for another three weeks.

Congress is poised to approve a temporary DHS funding bill Friday, even though it contains President Barack Obama's immigration policies that Republicans have vowed to repeal.

Republicans are set to pass the measure despite their objections because not passing it would cause the agency to shut down at midnight Friday.

At a time when terror threats are high, Republicans don't want to risk angering...

With the House expected to vote on a bill to replace No Child Left Behind this week, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., criticized Democrats on Wednesday for trying to support local control of education while opposing legislation that would reduce federal power.

“You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say you want more local control and then support giving more of those powers to the superintendent in Washington to take that control away from parents,” Scalise told the Washington Examiner. “At the end of the day, the more power the Secretary of Education in Washington has, the less...

Top potential Republican presidential candidates descended on a convention center just outside Washington on Thursday, hoping to woo some of the county's most influential conservatives at their premier annual gathering. 

Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who has emerged as a widely popular conservative voice, kicked off the Conservative Political Action Conference with a call to "change course." 

"We need to move in a very different direction," said Carson, considered a likely 2016 candidate. 

Among the other potential candidates scheduled to speak at the three-day event are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. 

The conference ends on...

The U.S. Senate heard a message from George Washington Monday about the need to keep faith front and center in American life.

It came through the annual reading of Washington's farewell address, a tradition that takes place each year on or near the first president's birthday.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., read the first president's warning against the loss of religion in public life.

As Washington prepared to leave office, he told the country that "religion and morality are indispensable supports...

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday turned down an invitation to meet privately with Senate Democrats next week during his visit to Washington, saying the session "could compound the misperception of partisanship" surrounding his trip.

Angering the White House and Democrats, Netanyahu accepted an invitation from Republican leaders to address a joint meeting of Congress on March 3 and speak about Iran. The GOP leaders did not consult with the Obama administration, which the White House called a breach of protocol.

Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on Monday invited Netanyahu to meet in a closed-door session with Democrats during his visit. He declined the invitation on...

Kansas could be the first state to outlaw a certain type of abortion commonly used during the second trimester of pregnancy.

A bill banning what's known as the "Dilation and Evacuation" procedure, commonly known as partial birth abortion, passed Friday in the Kansas Senate.

The abortion method, which includes extracting the fetus in pieces, was described by lawmakers supporting the bill as "gruesome" and "barbaric."

Another state senator said it's "unimaginable that such a procedure could be used by a medical practicioner."

The measure is expected to pass in the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives then gain the signature of...

The Obama administration revealed Friday that it sent about 800,000 HealthCare.gov customers a tax form containing the wrong information, and asked them to hold off on filing their 2014 taxes. 

The self-inflicted bungle follows weeks of administration officials touting a successful enrollment season -- one that saw far fewer technical glitches than the rocky launch in late 2013. 

About 11.4 million people signed up this season. But the errors in tax information mean that nearly 1 million people may have to wait longer to get their tax refunds this year.   

California, which is running its own insurance market, just announced a similar problem affecting about 100,000 people in that state. 

For those using HealthCare.gov, the...

A West Virginia middle school took down the crosses from a memorial to a beloved teacher, but is standing firm on the angels etched into the stone, despite an atheist group's threat to sue on constitutional grounds.

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Joann Christy's 26-year career educating children at Ravenswood Middle School came to a tragic end in 2004, when she died in a car accident. But her loved ones and the community she had served sought to remember her with an engraved, stone memorial near the school's entrance.

"There...

A Washington state florist who refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding has been found guilty of breaking the law.

Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom ruled Wednesday that Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene's Flowers, violated the state's consumer protection and anti-discrimination law.

Stutzman argues her actions were protected by her right to religious freedom. But the judge ruled that while religious beliefs are protected by the First Amendment, actions based on those beliefs aren't necessarily.

He also ruled Stutzman must provide full wedding support for same-sex ceremonies.

Meanwhile, a recent Associated Press...

What the West really needs to take on the Islamic State is ... a jobs program. 

That's what a top State Department spokeswoman suggested when asked in a TV interview Monday night about what the U.S.-led coalition is doing to stop the slaughter of civilians by Islamic State militants across the region. 

"We're killing a lot of them, and we're going to keep killing more of them. ... But we cannot win this war by killing them," department spokeswoman Marie Harf said on MSNBC's "Hardball." "We need ... to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it's lack of opportunity for jobs, whether --" 

At that point, Harf was interrupted by host Chris Matthews, who pointed out, "There's always going to be poor people. There'...

JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says it's his 'sacred duty' to go to Washington, D.C., and speak in Congress to "make the best case for Israel that I can."
 
Speaking  Monday evening to American Jewish leaders at the annual gathering in Jerusalem of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish organizations, Netanyahu told participants in less than eight minutes why he felt it was important for him to go to the United States and talk about Iran.

Netanyahu has been at loggerheads with the...

The official sign-up season for President Obama's health care law may be over, but leading congressional Democrats say millions of Americans facing new tax penalties deserve a second chance. 

Three senior House members told The Associated Press that they plan to strongly urge the administration to grant a special sign-up opportunity for uninsured taxpayers who will be facing fines under the law for the first time this year. 

The three are Michigan's Sander Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, and Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, and Lloyd Doggett of Texas. All worked to help steer Obama's law through rancorous congressional debates from 2009-2010. 

The lawmakers say they are concerned that many of their...

Elie Wiesel, an American Nobel Peace Prize winner and survivor of the Holocaust, is featured in a new full-page ad in The New York Times and the Washington Post, supporting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech on Iran to Congress scheduled for March 3.

The ad describes the 86-year-old Wiesel's intention to attend the speech "on the catastrophic danger of a nuclear Iran." He decries the decision of at least 22 U.S. lawmakers to boycott the speech.

He asks the president, "Will you join me in hearing the case for keeping weapons from those who preach death to Israel and America?"

Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 and is a survivor...

A longtime adviser says President Barack Obama deceived American voters for years by claiming he opposed same-sex marriage.

Former Obama strategist David Axelrod says in a new book that Obama actually supported gay marriage all along.

He says Obama pretended to oppose it because of fears that black Christian leaders would oppose him if his true beliefs became public.

Meanwhile, the president is pushing back, telling BuzzFeed News that Axelrod has it wrong.

"I think David is mixing up my personal feelings with my position on the issue," the president said.

But Axelrod's disclosure affirmed what was widely suspected for years...

President Obama on Wednesday opened the door to "limited" ground combat operations against the Islamic State, as he asked Congress to formally authorize military force against the terrorist network. 

The president, in a proposed resolution and a letter to Congress, underscored the "grave threat" posed by ISIS. 

"If left unchecked, ISIL will pose a threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States homeland," Obama said. 

The proposal includes limitations that would bar "enduring offensive ground combat operations" and let the authorization lapse after three years. The letter from Obama says the authorization would not allow "long-term, large-scale ground combat operations like those" conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

...

A New Jersey high school senior has won her case to keep the phrase, "under God," in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Samantha Jones said she was outraged when an athiest group, the American Humanist Association, demanded the phrase be removed when the Pledge of Allegiance was recited at Highland Regional High School.

She took the case to state court, where the judge dismissed it. Jones was represented by Eric Rassbach with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

"The Pledge of Allegiance isn't a prayer, and...

The Senate has passed a bill approving the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Nine Democrats joined with 53 Republicans in green-lighting the measure, but Thursday’s 62-36 vote still falls short of the threshold needed to override a presidential veto.

The measure authorizes construction of the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline to carry oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

Critics say the project would contribute to global warming and also point to the recent Yellow Stone spill in Montana as an example of an overall increase in spills.

Supporters say the bill would create more jobs and boost energy security.

The...

President Obama called for an end to "mindless austerity" on Thursday as he announced his desire to end "sequester" spending cuts in his budget for 2015.

The across-the-board cuts, agreed to by both parties, have been in effect since 2013, after lawmakers were unable to produce a more strategic deficit-cutting plan. Members of both parties have problems with the cuts, which indiscriminately affect both domestic and defense programs.

Obama's proposed $74 billion in added spending — about 7 percent — would be split about evenly between defense programs and the domestic side of the budget. Although he's sought before to reverse the sequester spending cuts, Obama's pitch in this year's budget comes with the added oomph of an improving economy and big recent declines...

JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran for Wednesday's ambush of an IDF patrol. The attack left two Israeli soldiers dead, seven wounded and northern Israel on edge.

"Whoever is behind this attack will pay the full price," Netanyahu said. "For some time, Iran, via Hezbollah, has been trying to establish an additional terrorist front against us from the Golan Heights. We are taking strong and responsible action against this attempt."

It's the deadliest attack by Hezbollah since the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, more than 8 years ago.

After the attack, the IDF declared the area a closed military zone, put its forces on high alert, and responded...

The federal budget deficit will fall to a six-year “low” of $468 billion in 2015, before resuming an upward climb that will take the federal debt to record heights.

The numbers are the latest from the Congressional Budget Office, which had predicted a somewhat larger 2015 deficit of $483 billion. The 2008 financial crisis led to the highest deficit as a percentage of the economy on record since World War II — in 2009 it was $1.4 trillion.

It is now closer to 2 percent of GDP, and is expected to remain relatively low through 2018. But rising health care costs, the implementation of Obamacare and an aging population are expected to drive a massive surge in spending over the next 25 years that will cause the deficit and debt to rise.

The growing...