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Inside Politics: Lawmakers issue subpoena to pharmacy director

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House lawmakers have issued a subpoena to the director of the pharmacy linked to the deadly meningitis outbreak, after he reportedly declined to appear before Congress next week.

An Energy and Commerce Committee spokesperson said that Barry Cadden, co-founder of New England Compounding Center, indicated through his attorney that he would not attend a hearing scheduled for Nov. 14. A message sent to the attorney was not immediately returned.

More than 400 people have been sickened by contaminated steroid shots distributed by the compounding pharmacy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thirty deaths have been reported.

CAMPAIGN

Big bucks in Senate race, with outsider support

The Virginia race for U.S. Senate between former governors George Allen and Tim Kaine topped $52 million in spending by outside groups, including nonprofits that do not disclose their donors, making it by far the most popular congressional race in the country among the newly legalized independent groups.

It is followed by the U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin, at $43 million, and the Senate race in Ohio, at $35 million.

The outside groups may be having even more impact on some House races, where a little money can go a lot further.

Despite being outspent overall, liberal groups have had a surprising impact by focusing on House races where their money goes further.

The average congressional district has 750,000 people, meaning special interests in Ohio's 16th District spent $13 for every man, woman and child to influence that outcome — and that doesn't include the money raised by the candidates themselves.

VICE PRESIDENT

Biden jokes again about bid for top job in 2016

Vice President Joseph R. Biden was joking about his next run for office even before Tuesday's election results were in.

At a surprise campaign stop in Cleveland, Mr. Biden joked that he might run for a local office.

"I'm going to go back home and run for county council or something," Mr. Biden told a customer at the Landmark Restaurant. Home for Mr. Biden is Delaware.

Mr. Biden, who turns 70, in two weeks, recently has been making jokes about his 2016 plans. He told a Florida man last week that he should vote for Mr. Biden when the man's health insurance rates go down because of the health care law known as Obamacare.

Mr. Biden's stop in Cleveland came as Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan made Election Day stops in the city at about the same time.

Ohio became a central battleground in the presidential race.

Mr. Biden voted in Delaware on Tuesday morning and told reporters it might not be the last time he votes for himself in an election.

He said voting is a great honor and urged Americans to "stand in line as long as you have to" in order to vote.

"It's always a kick" to vote, Mr. Biden said.

LABOR

Latest numbers point to only modest hiring

U.S. employers posted fewer job openings in September after advertising more in August than first estimated. The report suggests hiring will likely remain modest in the coming months.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that job openings dropped by 100,000 to 3.56 million, the fewest in five months. August's openings were revised up to 3.66 million.

The number of available jobs has jumped about 63 percent since July 2009, one month after the Great Recession ended. It remains well below the more than 4 million jobs a month advertised before the recession began in December 2007.

The job market remains very competitive. With 12.1 million people unemployed in September, there were 3.4 unemployed people, on average, competing for each open job. In a healthy economy, that ratio is roughly 2 to 1.

Employers filled fewer available positions in September than in August. And the number of people who quit fell to the lowest level in 10 months. That's a bad sign for the job market, because it suggests workers see fewer opportunities to move to a better job. Workers tend to quit when they have other job offers.

One positive sign in the report: Layoffs fell.

Hiring looked a little better in October, according to the Labor Department's employment report released Friday. Employers added 171,000 jobs last month and hiring in August and September was better than first estimated.

The unemployment rate rose to 7.9 percent last month from 7.8 percent in September. But that was because more Americans began searching for work, likely reflecting increasing optimism about their chances.

The employment report measured net hiring and unemployment, while Tuesday's report looked at total hiring, layoffs and resignations.

STATE

Officials critical of dam planned for Asian river

The U.S. is criticizing a decision by the Asian nation of Laos to build the first dam across the mainstream of the Mekong River, which environmentalists say could affect tens of millions of livelihoods and trigger a dam-building spree along Southeast Asia's mightiest waterway.

The U.S. has urged a moratorium on such projects until impact studies are complete.

The State Department said this week that Laos has announced its intention to start construction on the $3.5 billion dam despite lingering concerns downstream. The statement said the extent and severity of the dam's ecological impacts are still unknown.

Laos is one of Asia's poorest nations and hydropower is a key source of revenue. The project will generate electricity for sale to neighboring Thailand. Vietnam, a longtime ally of Laos, opposes the dam.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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