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Stephen Dinan

Stephen Dinan

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**FILE** State Field State Park Director Clay Phillips talks with Jared Blumenfeld, regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, during a tour of the park just north of the border with Mexico Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

EPA's use of secret email addresses was widespread: report

Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee said their findings call into question the work of the EPA's inspector general, who in September issued a report clearing the EPA of wrongdoing in the email scandal. Published February 13, 2014

FILE - In this Dec. 5, 2013 file photo House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Md. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Congress returns to work on Jan. 6, 2014, with election-year politics certain to shape an already limited agenda. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Democrats seek to force votes on minimum wage, immigration

House Democrats said Thursday they’ll soon launch an official petition drive to try to force the Republican majority to vote on Democrats’ immigration bill — after they try to force a vote on a minimum-wage increase, another top party priority. Published February 13, 2014

Rep. Norman "Doc" Hastings, R-Wash. discusses a new report that proposes alterations to the 40-year-old Endangered Species Act, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Hastings led the Endangered Species Act Congressional Working Group, a panel of House Republicans who want the law to be administered by the states to balance wildlife protection with economic development. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Doc Hastings to retire after 10 terms in House

He's the latest senior lawmaker from either party to announce a retirement, as House members elected as far back as the Watergate era have decided they've had enough of Washington. Published February 13, 2014

"This bill is a step forward but it doesn't go as far as it should," said Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent, noting that benefits cuts have been erased for current veterans. He's also written a bill to boost spending for future veterans. (associated press)

Congress reverses military pension cuts

Congress congratulated itself this week after voting to restore full cost-of-living increases for military retirement benefits — but the bipartisan unity showed just how difficult it will be to tackle the major spending challenges that lie ahead. Published February 12, 2014

**FILE** Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, accompanied by GOP leaders, talk to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, prior to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. From left are, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., the Republican Policy Committee chairman; Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.; and and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

GOP leaders help Senate pass large increase in debt limit

Congress approved a massive increase in the federal debt Wednesday, with Republican leaders linking arms and jumping together to help Democrats OK a play that will let President Obama borrow as much money as is needed to cover federal obligations for the next 13 months. Published February 12, 2014

Pressure on police sought for federal background check help

Administration officials said Tuesday that they would welcome steps to force local police departments to cooperate with federal background investigations, saying it could help spot red flags that should prevent some people from getting approved for "secret" or "top secret" access. Published February 11, 2014

** FILE ** In this Feb. 6, 2014, photo, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio gestures while speaking during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Boehner: GOP's reversal on debt is 'disappointing moment'

House Speaker John A. Boehner called it a "disappointing moment" Tuesday after he reversed course again and said he will ask his colleagues to pass a "clean" debt ceiling increase — admitting defeat and turning to Democrats to supply the votes needed to get it done. Published February 11, 2014

Aaron Alexis had a security clearance that gave him access to Building 197 at the Washington Navy Yard, where he killed 12 people last year. (FBI via Associated Press)

Local cops block feds from doing full security clearances, Navy Yard review finds

Many of the country's biggest cities — including Washington, New York and Los Angeles — refuse to cooperate with federal security clearance investigators, often leaving them in the dark about potential red flags, according to a report Tuesday that says the lack of cooperation contributed to last year's Navy Yard shooting. Published February 11, 2014

** FILE ** President Barack Obama speaks at General Electric's gas engine facility in Waukesha, Wis., on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Mike De Sisti, Pool)

Obama changes rules for refugees, further breaches trust in Congress

The same week the White House was assuring Republicans they could trust him to enforce immigration laws, the Obama administration quietly announced that it was reinterpreting the rules for refugees and asylum seekers so applicants could be approved even if they had given "limited" material support for terrorism. Published February 9, 2014

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson "was impressed with Mr. Marrone's integrity and management abilities" while serving together at the Department of Defense, a DHS spokesman said.

New Homeland chief: Agency will be ready for legalization of immigrants

New Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Friday he has tapped his deputy, Alejandro Mayorkas, to prepare the department for an eventual legalization program that would oversee the processing of millions of illegal immigrants into future citizens. Published February 7, 2014

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio pauses during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. Boehner said Thursday it will be difficult to pass immigration legislation this year, dimming prospects for one of President Barack Obama's top domestic priorities.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Boehner says no immigration deal until Obama enforces laws

House Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that until President Obama proves he's serious about enforcing immigration laws, it will be difficult to get a bill through the House this year — dealing a potentially fatal blow to the chances for action in 2014. Published February 6, 2014

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, right, accompanied by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of Calif., left, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., speak to reporters about the Keystone XL Pipeline and other issues, following a Republican Conference meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Boehner, McConnell: Obama turning IRS into 'partisan tool'

House Speaker John A. Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a joint letter Thursday demanding the IRS withdraw its controversial new rules governing political activities of outside interest groups, arguing they are the next step in the administration’s “intimidation and harassment” of tea party groups. Published February 6, 2014

** FILE ** Midland University President and Republican Senate candidate Ben Sasse is pictured on campus in this photo from June 5, 2013, in Fremont, Neb. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Anti-Obamacare proves winning strategy in Nebraska GOP race

Want to know the power of opposing Obamacare? Look at the Nebraska Senate race, where Ben Sasse, a political newcomer, has come from out of nowhere to land in a virtual tie in the polls with former state Treasurer Shane Osborne. Published February 6, 2014