- - Wednesday, March 30, 2011

HOUSE

Lawmakers seek IRS probe of AARP

House Republicans want the IRS to investigate whether AARP’s lucrative insurance business violates its status as a tax-exempt organization.

The seniors lobby pushed for President Obama’s health care law, which was solidly opposed by Republicans. On Wednesday, three senior GOP lawmakers released a report estimating that AARP could make an added $1 billion over 10 years on insurance plans with sales that are likely to pick up under the new law.

The report from Reps. Wally Herger of California, Charles W. Boustany Jr. of Louisiana and David G. Reichert of Washington found royalties on insurance sales are AARP’s biggest source of revenue, far above dues paid by its 40 million members.

An AARP spokesman says support for the health care law was “in no way, shape, or form influenced by revenue considerations.”

GAY RIGHTS

Authorities again denying visa applications

After a brief reprieve, immigration authorities are once again denying applications for immigration benefits for same-sex couples following a legal review.

Chris Bentley, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, said Wednesday that after a review by lawyers from the Homeland Security Department, it was concluded that a law prohibiting the government from recognizing same-sex marriages must be followed, despite the Obama administration’s decision to stop defending the constitutionality of the law in court.

The law, the Defense of Marriage Act, defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Earlier this week, USCIS announced that applications from foreigners married to U.S. citizens of the same sex would be held in “abeyance” while the legal review proceeded. Mr. Bentley said Tuesday that the temporary hold on application decisions was not a change in policy.

In February, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced that the government would no longer defend the law, which gay rights activists have said is discriminatory.

Bob Deasy of the American Immigration Lawyers Association said the latest ruling is a “disappointment.”

“The administration has the authority to put these cases on hold” while the fate of the marriage law is decided in court, he said.

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