House Speaker John Boehner has offered to include higher tax rates on the wealthiest Americans as part of a deficit-reduction deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, a source close to the talks confirmed to CNN on Saturday.
The latest twist in the negotiations, first reported by Politico, indicates a possible breakthrough in the protracted efforts to forge a deal to reduce the nation's chronic federal deficits and debt.
According to the source, who spoke on condition of not being identified further, Boehner proposed allowing tax rates on income over $1 million to return to higher rates of the 1990s while extending current reduced rates for all income up to that threshold.
However, Boehner's spokesman said no deal had been reached, though communication continues with the White House.FULL STORY
The USDA has designated 39 additional counties in eight states as primary natural disaster areas due to damage and losses caused by drought and excessive heat, CNN's Brianna Keilar reports.
During the 2012 crop year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated 1,297 counties across 29 states as disaster areas, making all qualified farm operators in the areas eligible for low-interest emergency loans.
The U.S. is facing the largest drought since the 1950s, the National Climatic Data Center reported Monday, saying that about 55% of the country was in at least moderate short-term drought in June for the first time since December 1956, when 58% of the country was in a moderate to extreme drought.
The hot, dry weather in June, which ranked as the third-driest month nationally in at least 118 years, according to the center, made the problem worse.HOW DROUGHT COULD HIT YOUR WALLET
[Updated at 9:36 a.m. ET] U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson, who was involved in traffic accidents this weekend, had a seizure, according to the Director of Public Affairs for the Commerce Department.
"Secretary Bryson was involved in a traffic accident in Los Angeles over the weekend. He suffered a seizure," according to spokeswoman Jennifer Friedman. " He was taken to the hospital for examination and remained overnight for observation. He was released and has returned to Washington. The investigation is ongoing. Secretary Bryson has no public events scheduled for today."
The Secretary was on personal time with no security detail, according to a Commerce official. Bryson was driving his own vehicle, the official said.
The White House was notified about the incident on Sunday night, according to an Obama administration official.
[Posted at 9:00 a.m. ET] U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson is under investigation for possible felony hit-and-run after allegedly causing two car accidents within minutes of one another in southern California, a police spokesman told CNN early Monday.
Bryson was issued a citation at an area hospital after sustaining minor injuries in the accidents, said Lt. Ariel Duran of the San Gabriel Police Department. Authorities must still decide whether to formally file any charges.
"The investigation is in its preliminary stages. At this point in time, there is no indication that alcohol or drugs played a role in the collisions," police said in a statement Sunday.
A preliminary alcohol screening of Bryson was negative, Duran said. Results from a blood alcohol test were pending, he said.
Commerce Department spokeswoman Jennifer Friedman said Bryson was involved in an accident, but was uninjured. He has been released from the hospital, Friedman said in a statement.
The accidents occurred Saturday evening, officials said.
Bryson, who was driving a Lexus, rear-ended a Buick occupied by three men that was stopped at a railroad crossing in San Gabriel, the police statement said Sunday.
"Bryson spoke with the males, then left the scene, hitting the same car again as he left," the statement said.FULL STORY
President Barack Obama will make a statement to reporters Monday about the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating and the loss of U.S. service members, including 22 Navy SEALs, killed in Afghanistan over the weekend, a White House official said.
The comments are scheduled for 1 p.m. ET at the White House.
According to the White House official, Obama will offer a reassuring assessment of the economic situation, citing reasons for confidence in the U.S. economy despite the decision last week by Standard & Poor's to downgrade the U.S. credit rating for the first time in history.
In addition, Obama will call again on the special congressional fiscal committee to be set up under the recent debt ceiling deal to take a "balanced" approach to deficit reduction that he has been advocating, the official said.
Obama has called for a comprehensive agreement that would cut spending, reform entitlement programs and increase tax revenue. Republicans oppose any kind of tax increase, and many reject increased tax revenue even if the tax rates remain the same or are lowered.FULL STORY
A bipartisan group of House members will file a lawsuit Wednesday challenging U.S. participation in the Libya military mission.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is set to defend U.S. military involvement in Libya to Congress, according to the White House.
The administration will provide a report to address a June 3 House resolution that raised questions about the president's goal in Libya, how he hopes to achieve that goal, why he has not sought congressional authorization for involving U.S. troops abroad, and how much the conflict will ultimately cost, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a letter to Obama on Tuesday that the administration could be in violation of the War Powers Resolution if it fails to get congressional authorization by Sunday, which he notes will be the 90th day since the mission began.
The lawsuit, which will be formally announced at a Washington news conference, will cite the War Powers Resolution as well as the role of Congress in protecting taxpayer's money, said Rep. Walter Jones, R-North Carolina, one of the 10 legislators filing it.
A statement by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, an anti-war liberal who is leading the lawsuit effort with Jones, said that the lawsuit will "challenge the executive branch's circumvention of Congress and its use of international organizations such as the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to authorize the use of military force abroad, in violation of the Constitution."
"With regard to the war in Libya, we believe that the law was violated. We have asked the courts to move to protect the American people from the results of these illegal policies," Kucinich said in his statement.FULL STORY