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Inside Politics

- - Tuesday, October 25, 2011

HOUSE

Lawmaker faults agency for lack of protection

A House Republican who chairs a panel that oversees education said the federal government has failed to adequately protect college students' personal information since it began directly issuing student loans.

Rep. Virginia Foxx said the Education Department's direct student-loan program website crashed earlier this month and users were able to see other students' personal and financial information.

HEALTH CARE

Chamber asks high court to review health care law

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been a fierce opponent of President Obama's health care overhaul, is taking a more nuanced approach in urging the Supreme Court to take up review of the law.

The organization said in a legal brief filed Tuesday that it takes no position on the constitutionality of the contested provision at the heart of the law, the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance or pay a penalty starting in 2014.

But the Chamber of Commerce said the court should not do what the federal appeals court in Atlanta did, which was to strike down that requirement and leave the rest of the law standing. The business group said health insurers and insurance buyers would face "dire consequences" if the mandate was invalidated by itself.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama set to offer student-loan relief

The White House said President Obama plans to offer millions of student-loan recipients the ability to lower their payments and consolidate their loans.

Mr. Obama on Wednesday will use his executive authority to accelerate a measure passed by Congress that reduces the repayment cap on student loans from 15 percent of discretionary income to 10 percent. The White House wants it to go into effect in 2012, instead of 2014. About 1.6 million borrowers could be affected.

Also, the 5.8 million borrowers who have loans from both the Family Education Loan Program and a direct loan from the government would be able to consolidate them into one loan. The consolidated loan would be up to a half percentage point less.

SENATE

Democrats seek to kill Defense of Marriage Act

Senate Democrats next week will begin a push to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that defines marriage for federal purposes and, to date, has meant states don't have to recognize gay marriages performed in other states.

The issue is expected to face strong opposition from Republicans, who would likely have the votes to filibuster the legislation should it reach the Senate floor. And it's unlikely to make it to the GOP-controlled House at all.

But the measure comes at a time when gay and lesbian advocates are on a roll, having won repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy in Congress late last year.

Meanwhile, President Obama's Justice Department has refused to defend DOMA in court, saying it can no longer vouch for its constitutionality.

CAMPAIGN

Warren claims credit for Occupy protests

Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is taking some credit for the Occupy Wall Street protests.

The Democrat and longtime consumer advocate says her work over the years against Wall Street abuses created much of the intellectual foundation for the demonstrators. In an interview posted Tuesday on the Daily Beast website, Ms. Warren said she supports what the protesters are doing.

Republicans pounced on Ms. Warren's remarks, saying she was praising them at the same time that the Boston police have arrested at least 141 protesters for allegedly threatening to tie up traffic downtown and refusing to abide by their protest-permit limits.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama campaign awaits a GOP primary survivor

SAN FRANCISCO | President Obama said he is waiting until more Republican presidential hopefuls are "voted off the island" before he starts tuning into the GOP race.

During an appearance on NBC's "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," Mr. Obama said when the field of contenders aiming to replace him is narrowed down to one or two, he'll start paying attention.

The president taped his appearance Tuesday morning in Los Angeles before heading to San Francisco for a fundraiser.

Mr. Obama also addressed the recent killing of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, the end of the war in Iraq and the NBA lockout during his appearance on Mr. Leno's show. The full interview was scheduled to air late Tuesday night.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports