- - Thursday, November 18, 2010

HOUSE

Unemployment extension fails

Millions of jobless Americans could see unemployment benefits run out in coming weeks after an effort to extend them failed in the House on Thursday.

The House could take up the measure again, but Congress has little time to act before the benefits expire on Nov. 30. Lawmakers are expected to leave Washington next week during the Thanksgiving holiday, and the Senate has not scheduled a vote.

The jobless rate has been stuck around 9.6 percent as the nation struggles to emerge from the financial crisis and its worst recession since the 1930s. Economists expect unemployment to remain high for years to come.

Congress has let jobless benefits lapse twice already this year as Republicans insist that the cost - $160 billion in the last fiscal year - be offset by cuts elsewhere to prevent the nation’s $14 trillion debt from growing further.

“We all want to help those in need. But the American people know that someone has to pay when the government spends money, and it shouldn’t be our children and grandchildren,” said Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., Louisiana Republican.

GOVERNORSHIPS

Texas governor named chairman

SAN DIEGO | Texas Gov. Rick Perry is taking over as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

Mr. Perry last held the job in the 2008 cycle. The new vice chairman is Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, who was elected in November 2009.

GOP rising stars round out the new leadership team. It includes Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Gov.-elect Nikki Haley, incoming New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Outgoing RGA Chairman Haley Barbour, Mississippi’s governor, will take on the newly created role of policy chairman.

Republican governors are meeting in San Diego.

CONGRESS

House leaders all in their 60s, 70s

Growing old in Congress isn’t for sissies. It’s sometimes cited as an issue for the top leaders - especially this year after an election in which voters demanded new faces on Capitol Hill.

“There they go again,” said Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, 71, responding to questions Thursday by adding a variation on a line from Ronald Reagan, whose age was sometimes mentioned.

Mr. Hoyer says he feels fine, and that it’s not about age, it’s about experience.

He is the oldest of the four lawmakers atop the leadership in the current Congress and the next.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is 70. The top Democrat in the Senate, Harry Reid of Nevada, turns 71 next month. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is 68. The youngster among them is Ohio Republican John A. Boehner, who turned 61 on Wednesday.

PRESIDENCY

Trump thinking about top job

Real estate mogul Donald Trump says he’s thinking about running for president, saying “everybody’s ripping off the United States.”

Mr. Trump tells ABC’s George Stephanopoulus in an interview he doesn’t actually want to run, but says he’s worried about the country’s future and thinks he could be the person to stand up to America’s rivals. He singled out China for criticism in the interview, accusing Beijing of manipulating its currency to gain unfair advantage of the United States in global trade competition.

He has shown interest in the past in running for president, in both 1988 and 2000. But in the interview, Mr. Trump said, “I am thinking about things.” He said he expects to decide by June, and said he’d likely run as a Republican if he enters the race.

HOUSE

Republican takes oath of office

New York Republican Tom Reed has become the newest member of the House after being hospitalized for shortness of breath.

Mr. Reed took the oath of office Thursday in the well of the House chamber, two days later than scheduled.

He was hospitalized Sunday night and treated for blood clotting in his lungs. He said tests have not indicated any long-term concerns.

The former mayor of Corning, N.Y., takes the upstate seat once held by Democratic Rep. Eric Massa, who resigned in March after being accused of sexually harassing male staff members.

Mr. Reed, who turned 39 Thursday, is among five winners of special House and Senate elections being sworn in during Congress‘ lame-duck session. The rest of the freshmen arrive early next year.

NEVADA

Ensign to seek re-election

LAS VEGAS | Nevada Sen. John Ensign says he is preparing to run for a third term, despite an ongoing federal investigation into an extramarital affair with the wife of a former staffer.

The Republican senator told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he remains a productive advocate for Nevada and has more to offer.

Mr. Ensigns aides did not immediately respond to messages from the Associated Press.

It has been unclear how Mr. Ensign’s 2009 affair with a former campaign aide will affect his political future. Federal investigators are probing whether he broke ethics rules in an attempt to keep the affair secret.

KENTUCKY

Paul volunteer pleads not guilty

LEXINGTON | A Rand Paul campaign volunteer who was caught on videotape stepping on a liberal activist demonstrating outside a U.S. Senate debate in Kentucky has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge.

Tim Profitt appeared in Fayette District Court for his arraignment Thursday on the fourth-degree assault charge.

Mr. Profitt and other supporters of Mr. Paul, who went on to win the Senate race, were taped restraining an activist with the liberal group MoveOn.org outside the debate last month between the Republican Mr. Paul and his Democratic opponent, Jack Conway.

A criminal summons says Mr. Profitt “intentionally placed his foot on the shoulder/head region on the victim.”

Mr. Paul’s campaign dropped Mr. Profitt as a coordinator in Bourbon County after the incident.

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