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HOUSE

Bachmann drops leadership bid

A "tea party" favorite is dropping her bid for a leadership position in the upcoming Republican-controlled House.

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said in a statement Wednesday night that she is no longer running for the chairmanship of the Republican House Conference, the party's No. 4 position when it's in the majority.

Mrs. Bachmann says she supports Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas. Mr. Hensarling has received the support of the current Republican whip, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, as well as other top House Republicans.

Mrs. Bachmann hasn't been able to match the endorsements Mr. Hensarling has received for the post.

The House Republican leadership hierarchy now faces the prospect of being a nearly all-male club. The lone woman in the caucuss inner circle says she "would love to see another woman around the leadership table."

"I think it is important that the leadership table, that our committee chairmen, that our conference in general reflects America," Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, said on MSNBC on Wednesday.

"We want to put the best person possible in every position, but I think it's also helpful to have that diverse perspective around the table. And that's all taken into consideration as the members make these decisions."

JUSTICE

Court asked to leave military gay ban alone

The Obama administration urged the Supreme Court Wednesday to keep the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military in place while a federal appeals court considers the issue.

The administration filed court papers in defense of an appeals court order that allowed "don't ask, don't tell" to go back into effect after a federal judge declared it unconstitutional and barred its enforcement. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is reviewing the administration's appeal.

Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group, has asked the Supreme Court to step into the case to reverse the appeals court decision that has allowed "don't ask, don't tell" to remain in effect despite the order by U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips.

Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal said the high court only rarely intervenes in a dispute at this stage and "this case does not present the sort of exceptional circumstances that would warrant interference with an interim order of the court of appeals."

The policy was lifted for eight days last month after Judge Phillips ruled that it violates the civil rights of gay Americans and issued an injunction barring the Pentagon from applying it. The Obama administration asked the appeals court to reinstate the ban until it could hear arguments on the broader constitutional issues next year.

CENSUS

Living single on the rise

More than one in four American households has only one person in it, reflecting a slow but steady expansion of single living, the Census Bureau reports.

Factors that lead to people living by themselves include delaying marriage in one's youth; permanently separating or getting a divorce; living longer as a widow or widower; and never marrying, researchers say.

Single living once was fairly uncommon - just 13 percent of U.S. homes had single householders in 1960, the bureau noted in its new report, "America's Families and Living Arrangements: 2010."

Over the decades, the number of one-person homes more than doubled, and now 27 percent of U.S. households are "just me" homes.

The census report, which captures socioeconomic characteristics of the nation's families and households, also found:

- Fewer households made of a married couple with minor children (21 percent, down from 24 percent in 2000).

- Fewer minor children living with two married parents (66 percent, down from 69 percent in 2000).

- More stay-at-home mothers in these married-couple-with-children homes (23 percent, up from 21 percent in 2000).

- More children living with a grandparent in the home (10 percent, up from 8 percent in 2001).

FCC

Google's data collection probed

The Federal Communications Commission is looking into Google Inc.'s Street View maps service to see if the company violated federal laws.

Google said last month that it was "mortified" to learn that its Street View cars mistakenly collected e-mail addresses, passwords and other personal information.

"In light of their public disclosure, we can now confirm that the Enforcement Bureau is looking into whether these actions violate the Communications Act," said Michele Ellison, chief of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau, on Wednesday.

The revelation of the FCC probe comes after the Federal Trade Commission ended its investigation of Google's Street View service. The company pledged to improve its privacy and security practices.

A Google spokesman said in a statement Wednesday that the company is sorry for mistakenly collecting payload data from unencrypted networks and is cooperating with regulators.

"We want to delete the data as soon as possible and will continue to work with the authorities to determine the best way forward, as well as to answer their further questions and concerns," the spokesman said.

CONGRESS

Nutrition bill could be back

First lady Michelle Obama's campaign for healthier school lunches could be revived in Congress after two key Democrats said they will drop opposition to using funding from food stamps to pay for it.

Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Jim McGovern of Massachusetts have said they will support House passage of a $4.5 billion child nutrition bill that passed the Senate earlier this year. Backed by some anti-hunger groups, the two lawmakers led opposition to passage of that version before the election because it is partially paid for with $2.2 billion taken from future funding for food stamp programs.

Since then, a push from the White House, which promised to find other legislation to trim costs, and political reality after the midterm elections indicated the bill probably would not fare as well when Republicans take over the House in January appear to have softened opposition.

Mrs. DeLauro said Tuesday that she is willing to support the legislation, which would improve lunches in schools and expand feeding programs for low-income students, with the food-stamp cuts because Democrats will have a better opportunity when Congress returns to use another piece of legislation to try to restore the money and increase access to feeding programs for hungry children.

"The view was that before the election, we couldn't get [those] two pieces we wanted to get," she said.

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