- - Monday, November 14, 2011

SENATE

Airline labor issue blamed for FAA funding delay

A key senator says the Federal Aviation Administration could face another shutdown because lawmakers haven’t resolved a labor issue that is holding up passage of a long-term funding bill for the agency.

Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia Democrat and chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, told aviation industry officials at a luncheon Monday that the chief holdup is one airline’s insistence on a provision making it more difficult for airline workers to unionize.

Mr. Rockefeller apparently was referring to Delta Air Lines, although he didn’t mention the airline by name.

He said there “is no movement, no give” in the GOP-controlled House. He said industry must put more pressure on Congress to pass a bill, which is critical to plans to modernize the nation’s air traffic control system.

CONGRESS

Former secretaries of state press to continue foreign aid

Five former secretaries of state - Republicans and a Democrat - are warning Congress against deep cuts in foreign aid.

In a letter circulated Monday by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, the former secretaries said that international spending advances U.S. interests overseas, tackles the causes of conflict and extremism, and shows America’s global leadership.

The Senate this week is considering a $53.3 billion spending bill for the State Department and foreign operations for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Citing the growing U.S. deficit, lawmakers are expected to offer amendments to cut foreign aid.

Signing the letter were Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Colin L. Powell and Condoleezza Rice, who worked for Republican presidents, and Madeleine K. Albright, who served in the Clinton administration.

MISSISSIPPI

GOP wins House for 1st time since Reconstruction

JACKSON — A majority of the Mississippi House of Representatives will be Republican for the first time since Reconstruction.

Republicans will control at least 62 of the 122 seats in the House when the Legislature convenes Jan. 3.

Some counties were still counting ballots Monday. GOP candidates held narrow leads in two other districts, so Republicans could gain an even bigger edge if those leads hold.

The party also controls the state Senate, as well as all but one major statewide elected office. Last week, Republican Phil Bryant was elected to succeed Gov. Haley Barbour. Mr. Barbour could not run again because of term limits.

CAMPAIGN

GOP hopefuls seek limits on federal role in education

When it comes to education, the Republican field of presidential candidates has a unified stance. They all want the federal government out of schools. But how they would do that varies.

Take the Education Department. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, along with Reps. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul, have proposed closing it. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich say they want to shrink the department. Herman Cain says he doesn’t think the department should be offering student loans.

Mr. Perry calls the No Child Left Behind Act a “direct assault on federalism,” while former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. has long expressed animosity toward the education law, which was enacted during the George W. Bush administration.

Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, has said “we need to get the federal government out of education,” but he has been more willing to praise certain department policies.

TELEVISION

Giffords praises husband as ‘brave’ in ABC interview

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, in her first public interview since she was shot in the head in Tucson last winter, doted on her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, and called him “brave, brave, brave” as she kissed his bald head.

Ms. Giffords appeared on ABC’s “20/20” show Monday night. It was her first extended interview since the January rampage that killed six people and wounded 13.

A segment that aired on “Good Morning America” early Monday showed a thin Mrs. Giffords with a broad grin as she talked about Mr. Kelly. Her husband replied that the word “brave” was the same one that came to his mind when he thinks of her - “brave and tough,” he said. Then Ms. Giffords, looking directly at Mr. Kelly, responds almost in a whisper: “Tough, tough, tough.”

At one point, Ms. Giffords broke down sobbing while having difficulty relearning to speak and she and her therapist hugged. In another clip, she sang into a microphone as part of her speech therapy. In another, she walked holding hands with her husband.

FBI

Hate-crime levels remained unchanged

The FBI says the level of hate crime reported by police in the United States remained about the same in 2010 compared with the previous year.

The bureau says 6,628 hate crime incidents were reported to the FBI by law enforcement agencies across the country, compared with 6,604 incidents reported in 2009.

The year-to-year numbers on hate crime were constant. The number of violent crimes reported to the FBI dropped 6 percent in 2010, marking the fourth consecutive year-to-year decline.

One reason the hate crime totals did not show a decline like overall violent crime may be that the 2010 hate crime data came from law enforcement agencies covering a slightly larger percentage of the U.S. population compared with the previous year.

From wire dispatches and staff reports