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Stephen Dinan

Stephen Dinan

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Articles by Stephen Dinan

House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., is followed by reporters after holding a news conference on the payroll tax cut on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Congress approves short-term payroll tax, unemployment benefits

Congress closed out its legislative year on Friday the same way it began: with a divided House and Senate agreeing to a short-term extension, in this case renewing the payroll tax holiday for two more months, but leaving the bigger work for later. Published December 23, 2011

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat

Shortened session shows divide over tax cut

House Democrats tried Wednesday to force a vote on the Senate's two-month extension of the payroll-tax cut, but Republicans gaveled the House closed to prevent them from having a chance, as top GOP leaders huddled down the hall to try to figure a way out of the impasse. Published December 21, 2011

House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, walks Dec. 20, 2011, to the House floor in the Capitol in Washington. (Associated Press)

House vote puts tax cut in limbo

The House officially voted Tuesday to start negotiations with the Senate on the payroll-tax fight — but Senate Democrats have said they won't cancel their vacation to conduct the talks, leaving an impasse that could mean an average $1,000 tax increase on 160 million taxpayers in the new year. Published December 20, 2011

House Speaker John A. Boehner (Rod A. Lamkey/The Washington Times)

Deal on payroll-tax cut starts to unravel

All sides insist they want to see a yearlong extension of the payroll-tax cut, but its chances dimmed Monday as House Republicans rejected the Senate's two-month compromise offer and demanded face-to-face negotiations - something Senate Democrats rejected out of hand. Published December 19, 2011

Rep. Michele Bachmann plans to touch all 99 of Iowa's counties over the final three weeks of the campaign leading up to the state's Jan. 3 caucuses. She made 13 campaign stops Saturday. (Associated Press)

Bachmann sprints across Iowa

It's midafternoon on a clear but blustery Saturday and Rep. Michele Bachmann is in the middle of what could be the busiest campaign swing in Iowa caucus history, and she's signing a man's bald head with a black marker. Published December 18, 2011

In this Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011, photo provided by NBC News, Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, appears on NBC's "Meet the Press" in Washington. House Republicans said Sunday they oppose a bipartisan, Senate-approved bill that extends a payroll tax cut and jobless benefits for just two months and said congressional bargainers need to write a new version lasting a longer time. "It's pretty clear I and our members oppose the Senate bill," Boehner said, adding, "I believe two months is just kicking the can down the road." (AP Photo, NBC News, William B. Plowman)

Boehner rejects deal on payroll tax

House Speaker John A. Boehner on Sunday rejected the Senate's bipartisan compromise short-term payroll-tax extension deal, reigniting a nasty legislative fight and once again raising the chances that a $1,000-per-year tax increase on families will take effect in two weeks. Published December 18, 2011

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a town-hall meeting on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011, in Charleston, S.C., while campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

Iowa's Des Moines Register endorses Romney

Iowa's biggest paper endorsed Mitt Romney in its Sunday editions for the Republican presidential nomination, painting him as a reasonable and thoughtful choice to send to Washington. Published December 17, 2011

** FILE ** Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich speaks Dec. 10, 2011, during a GOP presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa. (Associated Press)

Campaign 2012: Gingrich expands call to reel in federal courts

Expanding on his call for a rollback of the federal courts, Newt Gingrich said Saturday the time has come for a national conversation on the courts' overreach and the roles the president and Congress have historically had to reel them in. Published December 17, 2011

** FILE ** A compact fluorescent light bulb (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Congress overturns incandescent light bulb ban

Congressional negotiators struck a deal Thursday that overturns the new rules that were to have banned sales of traditional incandescent light bulbs beginning next year. Published December 16, 2011

Republican presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (center) speaks Dec. 15, 2011, as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (left) and Texas Rep. Ron Paul listen during a Republican presidential debate in Sioux City, Iowa. (Associated Press)

Gingrich takes fire from rivals in debate

Facing off against the rest of the Republican field in the final debate before Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses, Newt Gingrich defended his work for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and didn't back off from a number of his more contentious stances, including abolishing federal courts he finds too activist. Published December 15, 2011

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich greets potential voters Thursday at the Willow Ridge Golf Course in Fort Dodge, Iowa. He vowed to run a positive campaign,, less than three weeks before the GOP caucuses in a state where his once-strong support has slipped recently. (Associated Press)

Gingrich promises a positive approach

With his poll numbers showing some softness after days of mudslinging with rival Republican candidates, Newt Gingrich vowed to Iowa voters Thursday to run a positive campaign in the three-week stretch run to the state's Jan. 3 first-in-the-nation contest — the same strategy that helped former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee win the state in 2008. Published December 15, 2011

The Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

House GOP tries flanking move to avoid looming shutdown

Seeking to outflank Democrats, House Republicans announced early Thursday morning they had introduced a new 1,219-page spending bill to keep the government open past Friday, when current funding is scheduled to run out. Published December 15, 2011

House Speaker John A. Boehner called Wednesday for Democrats to release a year-end spending bill from their blockade. Democrats said they won't allow the bill to go through until lawmakers also pass an extension of this year's payroll-tax cut. (Associated Press)

Congressional stalemate sets up Christmastime government shutdown

Congress flirted Wednesday with yet another partial government shutdown - the third this year - as Democrats said they won't allow a year-end funding bill to go through until lawmakers also pass an extension of this year's payroll tax cut. Published December 14, 2011

CHALLENGE: "The Senate can take up our bill and amend it, or it can pass its own bill. But the Democrats who run the Senate can't continue to shirk their responsibility to govern," says House Speaker John A. Boehner. (Associated Press)

GOP ties payroll tax to oil pipeline

House Republicans voted Tuesday to give President Obama the payroll-tax-cut extension he desperately wants, but only if he accepts major changes to unemployment benefits and speeds up a decision on building the Keystone XL pipeline, which the administration has sought to delay until after the 2012 election. Published December 13, 2011

(Associated Press)

Republicans calling for reform cite $16B in unemployment overpayments

The Unemployment Insurance program's error rate has jumped as the program has grown during the economic downturn, paying out billions of dollars in improper payments in 2011, making it the second-worst program on a special government watch list. Published December 12, 2011


House, Senate strike deal on defense bill

House and Senate negotiators struck a deal Monday that gives the military first crack at holding suspected al Qaeda terrorists caught in the U.S., setting up a final showdown with President Obama who had said he might veto the bill if he thought it constrained his authority. Published December 12, 2011

** FILE ** With law enforcement supporters behind her, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signs immigration bill SB1070 into law on Friday, April 23, 2010, in Phoenix. The sweeping measure, major portions of which a federal court later blocked from implementation, would require local law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are in the country illegally. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

High court to consider Ariz. migrant law

The Supreme Court announced Monday it will take the case of Arizona's tough immigration crackdown law, adding yet another contentious clash between the Obama administration and the states to its docket. Published December 12, 2011

** FILE ** A Customs and Border Protection agent patrols by car along the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Ariz., in April 2010. (Associated Press)

Obama to slash National Guard force on U.S.-Mexico border

Blaming budget cuts, the Obama administration early next year will cut the number of National Guard troops patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border by at least half, according to a congressman who was briefed on the plan. Published December 12, 2011

** FILE ** Rep. Jeff Landry, Louisiana Republican, holds a sign during a speech by President Obama to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House GOP playing hardball at recess

House Republicans have a not-so-secret weapon that could bring the National Labor Relations Board to a halt and block Democrats' Wall Street watchdog agency from getting started — and all it requires is just sitting around. Published December 11, 2011