- - Sunday, November 7, 2010

VICE PRESIDENT

Biden pledges support for Israel

NEW ORLEANS | After meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. told Jewish groups on Sunday that the U.S. under the Obama administration remains a steadfast and unwavering ally to Israel.

Mr. Biden met for about an hour with Mr. Netanyahu to discuss the Middle East peace negotiations, a move seen as a possible sign of movement for the troubled diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians. The peace talks broke down over Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank.

Mr. Netanyahu was in New Orleans to speak Monday to the general assembly of the Jewish Federation of North America, which is meeting for three days.

In a speech that drew enthusiastic applause from the assembly, Mr. Biden repeatedly stressed that the Obama administration backs Israel. He said the Obama White House “represents an unbroken chain in American leaders who have understood this critical strategic relationship” between the two countries.

Mr. Biden did not detail what he and Mr. Netanyahu talked about. But he did say the Israeli leader agreed that there was “no substitute for direct face-to-face negotiations leading eventually to states where two peoples are secure: A Jewish state and a viable, independent state of Palestine.”

HOUSE

McConnell: Banning earmarks not easy

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says banning pork-barrel projects known as “earmarks” from congressional legislation is more complicated than it appears but that he is willing to consider such a ban.

Mr. McConnell says that ending the common practice of slipping funding requests for home-state projects into legislation won’t cut spending. A ban on earmarks will only limit the discretion of where to spend the vast federal budget and not curb spending.

Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina has said he wants to ban all lawmakers’ requests for specific spending. President Obama has backed that idea.

ILLINOIS

Winner to miss part of session

SPRINGFIELD | Illinois Republican Mark Steven Kirk won’t join the U.S. Senate in time for the start of the lame-duck session, which complicates his pledge to fight any last-minute tax and spending bills.

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