Agencies consider rules after plunge
The Securities and Exchange Commission will propose new rules covering cancellation of trades in the wake of the May 6 stock market plunge, the agency’s chairman told a Senate panel Thursday.
Nearly 21,000 trades were canceled because exchanges deemed them erroneous after the “flash crash,” which sent the Dow Jones industrial average down nearly 1,000 points in less than 30 minutes. Many retail investors were affected, and senators pressed at the hearing for remedies.
“The rules have got to have clarity,” SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said. “You’ve got to provide certainty up front.”
She said the agency is examining whether decisions to cancel trades were made fairly and if market professionals fully met their legal obligations to investors.
Bidens to represent nation at World Cup
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill, are traveling to Egypt, Kenya and South Africa early next month to meet with those country’s leaders and represent the United States at soccer’s World Cup.
The White House announced the trip Thursday.
Mr. Biden will meet in Egypt with President Hosni Mubarak, and in Kenya with President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Discussions in Kenya will address issues of regional stability including Sudan and Somalia.
In South Africa, Mr. Biden will meet with that country’s leaders and attend the opening ceremony of the World Cup as well as the U.S. men’s team’s first game.
The trip is set for the week of June 7.
Critz sworn in for Pennsylvania seat
Democrats are welcoming Mark Critz to their ranks after he dashed Republican hopes of capturing a Pennsylvania House seat seen as a possible bellwether for the midterms.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, swore in Mr. Critz on Thursday after he won a special election to fill the final months of the late Rep. John P. Murtha’s term. The longtime Murtha aide beat Republican Tim Burns on Tuesday. Both candidates will meet again this fall.
Murtha had held the seat for 36 years, but Republicans were counting on opposition to congressional Democrats and “tea party”-driven discontent to carry them to victory.
Mr. Critz stressed his ties to his old boss, who as chairman of a House Appropriations panel steered millions of federal dollars to his district.
Murtha died in February.
Gibbs: Obama’s effect on races no concern
The White House says it’s not worried about four consecutive losses by Democratic candidates President Obama had supported.
The latest defeat came Tuesday when Sen. Arlen Specter lost to Rep. Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs gave a simple, one-word answer when asked Thursday if Mr. Obama or his political team are concerned about the 0-4 losing streak. “No,” Mr. Gibbs said.
The other three losing Democratic candidates were gubernatorial hopefuls Creigh Deeds of Virginia and Jon Corzine of New Jersey, and Senate candidate Martha Coakley of Massachusetts. Mrs. Coakley had hoped to succeed the late Edward M. Kennedy.
Obama pushes higher fuel-efficiency standards
President Obama is set to announce new standards for fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions for cars and trucks beginning in 2017. He also wants more vehicles to run on electricity.
An Obama administration official says the president’s announcement is set for Friday.
The official says Mr. Obama will have the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department develop new vehicle standards to kick in after 2016.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan ahead of its public release.
Obama seeks more energy loan guarantees
A Democratic aide says President Obama is poised to ask Congress to agree to $9 billion more in loan guarantees for the nuclear energy industry - on top of $18 billion announced earlier this year. The president is pushing for a new round of construction of nuclear plants.
At the insistence of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, the request for more spending on nuclear energy would be coupled with $9 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy such as wind and solar. The aide spoke on the condition of anonymity before a formal announcement from the White House.
The money would be tacked onto a spending bill for Haiti, Afghanistan and domestic priorities that Congress is expected to tackle after Memorial Day.
Jobless benefits extended after pact
Lawmakers have agreed on legislation to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed through the end of the year. Laid off workers would also continue to get subsidies to buy health insurance through the COBRA program.
House and Senate leaders announced the deal Thursday morning on a bill that would also extend, for a year, about 50 popular tax cuts that expired at the end of last year.
Lawmakers had been negotiating a provision that would spare doctors from a scheduled 21 percent cut in Medicare payments. They agreed to delay the cuts an additional three years.
House leaders plan to vote on the bill Friday, with the Senate voting next week.
Snowe praises Kagan’s qualifications
Republican Sen. Olympia J. Snowe says Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan appears for now to have the qualifications and balanced approach to be a justice.
The moderate from Maine hasn’t thrown her support behind Miss Kagan yet. She says she wants to wait and see what happens during Miss Kagan’s confirmation hearings before deciding whether to vote for her.
But Mrs. Snowe, who voted last year to confirm Miss Kagan as solicitor general, says the 50-year-old former Harvard Law School dean came across during a closed-door meeting Thursday as straightforward, pragmatic and thoughtful.
Mrs. Snowe says Miss Kagan emphasized the importance of judicial restraint and deference to Congress by the court. And she also told Mrs. Snowe abortion rights are “settled law.”