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A conservative-leaning blog, Colorado Peak Politics, first reported that Mr. Smith worked for state Senate Democrats and had been fired. Some gay activists have used “glitter-bombing” to protest politicians’ opposition to same-sex marriage.

Colorado Senate majority chief of staff John Cevette says Mr. Smith was terminated Thursday. He was interning as part of a course at the University of Colorado at Denver. Mr. Smith has said “glittering” Mr. Romney was worth it, but he worries he could be expelled from school.


Democrats propose 6-week cut in jobless benefits

House-Senate negotiations on extending jobless benefits and a 2 percentage point cut in the payroll tax remained stalled Thursday, despite a proposal in which Democrats urged a modest six-week cut in the maximum time unemployed workers can receive jobless benefits.

Democrats, however, rejected efforts by House conservatives to require beneficiaries to enroll in GED classes or permit states to require drug tests as conditions of getting unemployment.

The Democratic proposal would allow unemployed people to receive a maximum 93 weeks of benefits in states with the highest jobless rates, rather than the 99 weeks permitted now. Republicans want to cut 20 weeks from the maximum benefit, though as a practical matter, falling jobless rates mean the maximum benefit would drop to 59 weeks under their plan.

There’s still no progress on the central issue of finding budget cuts to finance a cut in Social Security payroll taxes. At the hearing earlier this week, Democrats came out against GOP plans to freeze federal workers’ pay and require higher income seniors to pay higher Medicare premiums.

But Democrats have yet to come forward, publicly or privately, with an alternative roster of deficit-cutting proposals to raise $160 billion or so in savings to pay for extending the payroll-tax cut and jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, as well as preventing a 27 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors required under an outdated funding formula.


Bill delays rail safety mandate for years

A long-sought safety feature that Congress required after a deadly 2008 rail crash would be delayed for five years under legislation the House is expected to take up next week.

Shortly after a train collision near Chatsworth, Calif., Congress required rail operators transporting passengers or toxic materials to install equipment by the end of 2015 that would automatically stop a train in danger of an accident.

Federal investigators cited the lack of such a safety system, referred to as positive train control, as a contributing factor in the Chatsworth crash that killed 25 people and injured more than 100.

But a House bill that would dictate the nation’s future transportation agenda pushes back the installment deadline five years. Rail industry officials say more time is needed to deal with the complexity and costs associated with installing and operating the equipment.

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