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Inside Politics

- - Monday, August 29, 2011

WHITE HOUSE

Obama: On anniversary, more need for vigilance

President Obama said the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina illustrates the need for the federal government to respond as best it possibly can to natural disasters.

He said his administration's improved emergency readiness was evident over the weekend in reaction to Hurricane Irene.

Katrina struck six years ago Monday and became a symbol for government failure. Mr. Obama, in a statement, said his administration has improved emergency response to be "more resilient after disaster strikes."

He said Americans should continue efforts to make sure that New Orleans and the Gulf Coast recover.

Mr. Obama maintained a high profile in advance of Hurricane Irene, warning residents along the Eastern Seaboard to be vigilant.

He said emergency responders will address the needs of communities hit by Irene "as quickly and effectively" as possible.

HOUSE

Lawmaker: Obama uncle will have "advantage"

One congressman wants to know whether President Obama's half-uncle will be granted "amnesty" under new rules the administration announced earlier this month designed to let lower-priority illegal immigrants remain in the country.

Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican who has fought for an immigration crackdown, said Onyango Obama, a relative of the president's, "will have an advantage ... when it comes time to determine who is granted amnesty."

"This raises a troubling list of questions about the potential for preferential treatment," Mr. King said. He and several other members of Congress have called for hearings to investigate the new rules, announced by Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano two weeks ago. Under those rules, immigrants who are in deportation proceedings will be evaluated and, if they are not deemed high-priority targets, officials are allowed to use discretion to end proceedings.

Those under final orders for deportation are not subject to the new rules yet, though Ms. Napolitano has asked a working group to see whether it can provide discretion in those cases, too. According to news reports, Onyango Obama is currently violating a deportation order.

NEVADA

Reid: Energy revolution happening, but too slowly

LAS VEGAS — A clean energy revolution is under way in the United States but isn't happening quickly enough, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday.

Mr. Reid told reporters in advance of a clean energy summit in Las Vegas that the country is still too dependent on foreign oil and needs to change that to help national defense and the economy.

"Our dependence on foreign oil is making our nation less secure, and is certainly damaging the health of our citizens," he said.

He expects clean energy projects to be part of jobs bills that the Senate will consider when it returns to session next week.

The Tuesday summit at the Aria Resort & Casino is expected to include Vice President Joseph R. Biden, several governors and other influential policy experts, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu and U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.

In addition to lawmakers trading ideas, previous summits have included announcements and discussions about investments in renewable energy.

John Podesta, chief executive of the Center for American Progress, said discussions at the summit have led to tax incentives for renewable energy and funding for transmission-line projects in Nevada and elsewhere.

"I know that many of the ideas that will be developed over the next day or so will likewise be considered by Congress this year," said Mr. Podesta, a former White House chief of staff for Bill Clinton.

HOUSE

GOP to spike rules as part of jobs agenda

The House Republican agenda this fall will focus on repealing environmental and labor regulations they say are driving up the costs of doing business and discouraging employers from hiring new workers.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says in a memo to his fellow Republicans that as soon as Congress returns to Washington next week he will start bringing up bills to repeal or restrict federal regulations. The Virginia lawmaker also said the House would act on a small-business tax deduction.

The memo was released Monday.

The GOP approach to job creation comes as President Obama prepares to announce after Labor Day a broad jobs package expected to include tax cuts, infrastructure projects and help for the unemployed.

STATE

U.S. wants Libyan review of Lockerbie bomber case

The Obama administration has asked Libya's opposition to review the case of the ailing former Libyan intelligence agent convicted of the Lockerbie bombing who has been living in Tripoli since his controversial release from a Scottish prison two years ago, the State Department said Monday.

The department said it wants the opposition to look into the handling of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi's return to Libya, with an eye toward potentially expelling him if he does not die in the meantime. Al-Megrahi was released for compassionate reasons in 2009 and he returned home to a hero's welcome from supporters of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. He is now near death and slipping in and out of consciousness, according to his brother. His release by Scottish authorities was loudly protested by the U.S., as were the circumstances of his return to Libya.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said U.S. officials have spoken to senior members of Libya's Transitional National Council about the case. She said the TNC had agreed to look into it once it consolidates control over the country and establishes a fully functioning government.

"We asked the TNC to, as soon as it can, take a hard look at what it thinks ought to happen with al-Megrahi, and it is committed to do that," she told reporters.

"This is a new day in Libya," Ms. Nuland said. "This is a guy with blood on his hands, the lives of innocents. Libya itself under Gadhafi made a hero of this guy. Presumably, a new, free, democratic Libya would have a different attitude towards a convicted terrorist."

From wire dispatches and staff reports