- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

With little drama, House ready to OK government-wide $1.1T budget as Senate waits its turn

WASHINGTON (AP) - Shunning the turmoil of recent budget clashes, Congress is ready to approve a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill for this year, a compromise financing everything from airports to war costs and brimming with victories and setbacks for both parties.

The huge bill furnishes the fine print - 1,582 pages of it - for the bipartisan pact approved in December that set overall federal spending levels for the next couple of years. With that decision behind them and lawmakers eager to use the election year to show they can run a government, there was little suspense about the spending bill’s fate.

Reinforcing that was their desire to avoid the potential alternative - a replay of last fall’s 16-day federal shutdown, which disgusted voters.


“There’s a desire to show people we can do our job,” said Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho.

The Republican-led House was expected to approve the sweeping measure Wednesday, with the Democratic-run Senate following suit by the end of the week.

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AP sources: Obama expected to back changes to NSA surveillance with Congress handling details

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is expected to endorse changes to the way the government collects millions of Americans’ phone records for possible future surveillance, but he’ll leave many of the specific adjustments for Congress to sort out, according to three U.S. officials familiar with the White House intelligence review.

That move would thrust much of the decision-making on Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act toward a branch of government that is deeply divided over the future of the surveillance apparatus. And members of Congress are in no hurry to settle their differences and quickly enact broad changes.

Obama will speak about the bulk collections and other surveillance programs in a highly anticipated speech Friday at the Justice Department. The speech marks the culmination of a monthslong review sparked by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden, who leaked a trove of classified documents about the secret surveillance programs last year.

In another revelation about NSA activities, The New York Times reported Tuesday that the agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world - but not in the United States - that allows the U.S. to conduct surveillance on those machines.

The NSA calls the effort an “active defense” and has used the technology to monitor units of China’s Army, the Russian military, drug cartels, trade institutions inside the European Union, and sometime U.S. partners against terrorism like Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan, the Times reported.

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Bombings across Iraq striking busy markets, funeral north of Baghdad, kill at least 41 people

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