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Stephen Dinan

Stephen Dinan

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Articles by Stephen Dinan

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks Nov. 22, 2011, at a Republican presidential debate in Washington. (Associated Press)

Republican hopefuls diverge on immigration, Iran policies

Surging in Republican presidential primary polls, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich used Tuesday night's national security debate in Washington to argue for a potential strike on Iran, a broader Patriot Act and the granting of legal status to many illegals in the U.S. as a way to regain control of the immigration system. Published November 22, 2011

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, asked for the government report that found that illegal immigrants caused a large percentage of the wildfires that have scarred areas of the Southwest along the border with Mexico. (Associated Press)

Report blames fires on border crashers

Illegal immigrants started nearly 40 percent of human-caused wildfires along the Arizona and Mexico border between 2006 and 2010, according to a new government report that backs up claims state lawmakers made during this year's catastrophic blazes. Published November 22, 2011

**FILE** President Obama signs the $787 billion economic stimulus bill in Denver in February 2009 as Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. looks on. (Associated Press)

CBO: Stimulus hurts economy in the long run

The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday downgraded its estimate of the benefits of President Obama's 2009 stimulus package, saying it may have sustained as few as 700,000 jobs at its peak last year and that over the long run it will actually be a net drag on the economy. Published November 22, 2011

A plane drops slurry near houses after a fire sparked on Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Ariz., on June 17, 2011. (Associated Press/Arizona Daily Star)

GAO: Illegal immigrants caused nearly half of border fires

Illegal immigrants started nearly 40 percent of human-ignited wildfires along the U.S.-Mexico border between 2006 and 2010, according to a new government report that gives new credence to claims Arizona lawmakers made earlier this year during catastrophic blazes in the Southwest. Published November 22, 2011

A statue of Benjamin Franklin overlooks the empty hallways of Congress at the Capitol in Washington as the deadline of the deficit supercommittee approaches with no expectations for success on the morning of Nov. 20, 2011. (Associated Press)

Seismic shift on Hill sank amendment bid for balanced budget

The defeat last week of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution showed a remarkable shift in congressional opinion in just 15 years on what had, at one point, appeared destined to become the 28th addition to the founding document. Published November 20, 2011

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, while testifying as a nominee in June 2010, reportedly told a Senate panel she had never been asked about her opinion or had offered any comments about proposed health care legislation while solicitor general. (Associated Press)

Leading senators: Kagan may have to recuse herself from health case

Top Republican senators said late Friday the Justice Department has been stonewalling their request for more information on Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, and said her previous work as solicitor general "may satisfy both requirements for recusal" from the upcoming health-care case. Published November 18, 2011

** FILE ** Members of the House Republican freshman class, led by class President Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., center, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011, to discuss a Balanced Budget Amendment. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

House defeats balanced budget amendment

The House on Friday rejected a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, falling well short of the two-thirds vote required and signaling a striking slide since the amendment's high point in the 1990s. Published November 18, 2011

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn

Congress OKs $128B spending bill

Breaking a legislative drought that had extended for two years, Congress on Thursday passed three of its annual spending bills and a stopgap measure to keep the rest of the government open through the middle of December, though not without deep partisan divides. Published November 17, 2011

Rep. Dave Camp, Michigan Republican

Congress gives OK to small portion of Obama's jobs bill

It took two months, but a sliver of President Obama's jobs-stimulus plan is finally on its way to his desk after the House gave a final sign-off Wednesday to new tax credits to promote hiring of veterans and a repeal of the so-called "withholding tax" that was set to bite government contractors in 2013. Published November 16, 2011

Hopes dim for amendment to balance budget

Fifteen years ago, the budget deficit stood at $107 billion, government debt totaled about $5 trillion and a balanced-budget constitutional amendment came within one senator's vote of passing Congress, buoyed by the likes of then-Sen. Joseph R. Biden, who made an impassioned plea on the floor for its adoption. Published November 16, 2011

** FILE ** Rep. Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican and House Budget Committee chairman. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Federal debt tops $15 trillion

The Treasury Department said Wednesday that federal debt now tops $15 trillion — a staggering figure that has risen precipitously over the last decade. Published November 16, 2011

**FILE** Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican (Associated Press)

Coburn: Congress shirking oversight duties

Congress has punted on doing the kind of scrutiny of federal agencies that's required to prevent waste and keep the government running smoothly, according to a new report by Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who serves as the institution's unofficial watchdog. Published November 16, 2011

**FILE** Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan (Associated Press)

Health case raises recusal questions for Kagan, Thomas

The Supreme Court's announcement Monday that it will hear challenges to President Obama's health care law have put the spotlight on Justice Elena Kagan, who worked in the administration while the law was being written and, conservatives argue, helped craft its legal defense. Published November 14, 2011

Illustration: Constitution

Little will on Capitol Hill to alter Constitution

With no fanfare, the country in August quietly passed a peculiar milestone: The 14,746th day since Congress last proposed a successful amendment to the Constitution, officially becoming the second-longest such dry spell in history and raising questions about when, if ever, the next amendment will pass. Published November 13, 2011

An Opportunity Expo held Thursday in Miami by RecruitMilitary attracts lines of veterans seeking jobs and educational and business-ownership opportunities. The Senate on Thursday passed a bill promoting hiring veterans. (Associated Press)

Small part of jobs stimulus clears Senate, may be the last

Two months after President Obama proposed a $447 billion jobs-stimulus bill, the Senate has finally found a part it can agree on: a $30 billion package that promotes hiring of veterans and ends an unpopular withholding requirement for government contractors. Published November 10, 2011

Sen. John McCain greets the crowd after a "Road to Victory" campaign rally in Woodbridge. Va. during the 2008 campaign. (Allison Shelley/The Washington Times File)

Cain's hopes hang on McCain's miracle

Herman Cain faces many head winds in his quest to win the Republican presidential nomination next year, but the biggest one is still likely to be money - as of last month, his available campaign funds accounted for a little more than 2 percent of the entire GOP field. Published November 9, 2011

**FILE** Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican (Associated Press)

Government fines jailed Border Patrol agent's family

After successfully winning a two-year prison sentence against U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jesus E. Diaz Jr., the Justice Department is now trying to collect a $6,870 fine from his wife, saying it should be paid "immediately" — even though the judge signaled she would have a grace period. Published November 8, 2011

President Obama met with veterans Monday at the White House and spoke about how tax credits for businesses that hire veterans would encourage them to hire some of the 850,000 out of work. "If you can oversee a convoy or millions of dollars of assets in Iraq, you can help a business back home manage their supply chain or balance their books," he said. (Associated Press)

Senators agree on provision of jobs bill

The partisan fog stifling the Senate for most of this year lifted slightly Monday evening as senators signaled that they may finally have found a slim part of President Obama's jobs-stimulus plan they can agree to pass. Published November 7, 2011