A huge increase in workload, rather than deliberate targeting, led to "foolish mistakes" and the political discrimination in the Internal Revenue Service cited by an inspector general's report, the agency's outgoing commissioner said Friday.
The testimony by Steven Miller, who was forced to announce his resignation this week as acting IRS commissioner, came at the first congressional hearing on the matter that has put President Barack Obama's administration on the defensive.
Rep. Dave Camp, chairman of the Republican-led panel, and other GOP members sought to depict the controversy as indicative of government gone wild, with the IRS abusing conservative groups and other political foes of the administration.
"This kind of reconfirms that, you know what, they can do anything they want to anybody they want any time they want," GOP Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania said about the IRS.FULL STORY
In a major defeat for supporters of tougher gun laws, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday defeated a compromise proposal to expand background checks on firearms sales.
The bipartisan plan was brokered by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania. It was also backed by President Barack Obama in his push for a package of gun laws in the aftermath of the Newtown school massacre.FULL STORY
U.S. President Barack Obama visited the West Bank on Thursday, stressing the need for direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians for a two-state solution.
"The Palestinian people deserve an end to occupation and the daily indignities that come with it," Obama said at a news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"Palestinians deserve a future of hope," he said. "Palestinians deserve a state of their own."
The president signed an order Friday required by law that set in motion $85 billion in automatic, government-wide cuts - cuts that both Democrats and Republicans said they didn't want, though they couldn't agree on how to prevent them.
The cuts amount to roughly 9% for a broad range of non-defense programs and 13% for the Pentagon over the rest of the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30.
They were included in a 2011 deal to raise the federal borrowing limit as an unacceptable outcome if Congress failed to agree on a comprehensive deficit reduction plan. That plan did not happen.FULL STORY
Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is owning up to allegations that he used campaign funds for personal expenses – and now he might get prison time.
Jackson, dabbing at this eyes with a handkerchief, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and false statements.
Sentencing is set for June 28. That charge carries a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but though the judge noted that prosecutors and defense attorneys appeared to recommend a lighter sentence.
Furloughed workers, reduced combat readiness, shrunken naval operations and cuts to Air Force flying hours and weapons maintenance.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta listed those consequences as he provided a stark warning Wednesday about the effects of impending budget cuts on the military. The result, he said, would be "the most serious readiness crisis" faced by the military in over a decade.FULL STORY
[Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama says that if Congress can't come up with a long-term deficit reduction package by March 1, Congress should pass a smaller, short-term package to avoid the deep automatic spending cuts that otherwise would take effect that day.
The imminent spending cuts – known as sequestration – were part of a 2011 debt ceiling deal.
In his comments moments ago at the White House, Obama said his past proposal – a mix of spending cuts, entitlement reforms and increased revenue – remain on table. He says this mix, rather than spending cuts alone, is the most sensible option.
Choosing only to cut spending, Obama said, would "cost us jobs and slow down our recovery."
[Initial post, 12:03 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama today will call for a short-term agreement to put off deep cuts to government spending set to take effect next month, a senior administration official has confirmed to CNN.
The president will make a statement to reporters at 1:15 p.m. ET that urges Congress to pass a measure that would put off the imminent spending cuts – known as sequestration – that were part of a 2011 debt ceiling deal, the official said.
A White House official, also on condition of not being identified, issued a statement that said Obama will call for a balanced approach – which is code for including additional revenue with spending cuts – to "avoid the deep, indiscriminate cuts to domestic and defense programs slated to take effect in just over three weeks."FULL STORY
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is offering details on her proposal to federally ban some assault weapons, as well as ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
You can watch the announcement in Washington live on CNN.com.
Her measure is designed “to help end the mass shootings that have devastated families” and communities, she said. The proposal comes about a month after a shooting that killed 20 children and six women at a Connecticut elementary school.
Feinstein, while making the announcement, also is displaying examples of weapons that would be banned. Her measure would stop the sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of more than 100 specialty firearms and certain semi-automatic rifles, as well as limiting magazines to 10 rounds or less. Not all of the weapons in the bill meet the technical definition of assault weapons.
The measure would not cover weapons already owned before it passed, as well as other hunting, sporting, antique, manually operated and disabled weapons.
It didn't take long for U.S. President Barack Obama to decide how he wants to try to reduce gun violence.
Obama (pictured) and Vice President Joe Biden will announce Obama's plan for reducing gun violence on Wednesday, the White House said Tuesday afternoon. Biden had given recommendations to Obama after leading a task force on the issue last week.
Obama's proposal will be comprehensive, and will include legislative options for banning assault weapons as well as steps to address high-capacity magazines and federal background checks, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Obama and Biden will be joined by children from around the country who wrote letters to the president, Carney said.
Let the endgames begin.
After a Christmas holiday, President Barack Obama returned to Washington from Hawaii and the U.S. Senate reconvened Thursday as the deadline approached for going over the fiscal cliff of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts.
However, the House remained on Christmas break, with members warned they could be called back on 48 hours' notice if needed.
Hopes for a so-called grand bargain that would address the nation's chronic federal deficits and debt appeared dashed for now, with four days remaining to reach agreement on a smaller plan that would avoid the harshest effects of the fiscal cliff's tax increases and slashed spending.
With House Republicans unable to resolve the impasse, the focus shifted to the Democratic majority in the Senate to come up with a way forward that could pass the House and get signed into law by Obama.FULL STORY
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
It's crunch time for avoiding the fiscal cliff as President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner and their aides hold private talks on issues that will impact every American.
Three weeks remain to cut a deal before the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts of the fiscal cliff go into effect on January 1.
Obama and Boehner met face-to-face on Sunday for the first time since November 16. It also was their first one-on-one meeting in more than a year, when talks broke down on a comprehensive agreement to reduce the nation's chronic federal deficits and debt.
In a rare display of bipartisan concurrence, both sides issued identical statements after the meeting that said no details would be forthcoming. Staff on both sides also have been talking, but few details were available.FULL STORY
If insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result, then continuing negotiations on a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff might amount to little more than crazy talk.
The same players are arguing about the same issue - taxes - in a repeat of budget showdowns of the past two years that failed to reach a comprehensive agreement.
President Barack Obama's re-election in November, coupled with a perceived desire by congressional leaders to shed their reputation of dysfunction, raised expectations for a possible deal.
However, with four weeks to go until the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts of the fiscal cliff get triggered, the two sides remain unable to resolve a central issue - whether wealthy Americans should pay more taxes than they do now.
Negotiations on a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff got a jump-start on Monday with House Republicans offering a counter-proposal to President Barack Obama, but continuing to reject his call for higher tax rates on the wealthy.
The GOP proposal would result in $2.2 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade, including $800 billion from tax reform, $600 billion from Medicare reforms and other health savings, and $600 billion in other spending cuts, House GOP leadership aides told reporters.
House Speaker John Boehner called it a "credible plan that deserves serious consideration by the White House."
The move followed a weekend of accusations by both sides that the other was not serious about reaching a deal to avoid the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to take effect January 1 - what is known as the fiscal cliff that economists say will damage U.S. growth.
There was no immediate response to the Republican plan, which congressional aides said would be sent in a letter to the White House.FULL STORY
Ahmed al-Ja'abari, head of Hamas' military wing, was killed Wednesday in Gaza by an Israeli "surgical" strike, the Israeli military announced.
A spokesman for the Hamas-run government in Gaza confirmed that al-Ja'abari was killed in an Israeli strike. "Israel is announcing the war in Gaza and Israel will carry the responsibility for killing Ahmed Jabri," Tahar Eanono said in a written message.
Militants in Gaza have been firing dozens of rockets into southern Israel, and Israel has struck back.
The Israeli military tweeted earlier today:
IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) November 14, 2012
Facing a close election and Republican attacks that they have made things worse while in power, President Barack Obama and Democrats seek to emphasize what has been achieved and additional steps to bolster the middle class at their three-day national convention that begins Tuesday.
The political conclave that will formally nominate Obama for a second term serves as a response to last week's Republican convention that nominated Mitt Romney as the GOP challenger in November.
Democrats offered a glimpse of issues expected to play a prominent role in this week's events, releasing their party platform late Monday. It focuses on improving the economic situation for middle-class Americans, a central theme of Obama's campaign and an issue the party hopes will win votes come November. It also contains language endorsing same-sex marriage for the first time, a move that brings the party's official stance in line with that of the president, who said for the first time in May that he supports marriage rights for gays and lesbians.
"Over the course of the week, you'll hear a very different tone than the one that you heard last week in Tampa, which was really essentially one nonstop series of attacks on President Obama," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, told CNN on Tuesday.
"We're going to lay out the case for moving the economy forward. President Obama and speakers throughout the week will talk about and have an honest conversation about where we were when he first took office and where we are now after four years of his policies and 29 straight months of job growth in the private sector. And that we need to continue to move forward and we've got a ways to go."
First lady Michelle Obama will address the convention Tuesday night, and former President Bill Clinton headlines the second night before Obama concludes it with his nationally televised address Thursday night.FULL STORY
[Updated at 4:23 p.m. ET] Voting on strictly partisan lines, a House committee recommended 23-17 Wednesday that Attorney General Eric Holder be cited for contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents relating to the botched Fast and Furious weapons sting operation.
The measure now goes to the full House for consideration, expected next week, of what would be an unprecedented event – Congress holding a sitting attorney general in contempt.
Republicans on the committee voted for the recommendation; Democrats voted against it. Like they do on the panel, Republicans hold a majority in the full House.
Earlier Wednesday, President Barack Obama asserted executive privilege over the documents that the panel is seeking.
[Initial post, 10:11 a.m. ET] President Barack Obama has asserted executive privilege over documents sought by a House committee investigating the botched Fast and Furious gun-running sting, said a letter to the panel Wednesday from Deputy Attorney Gen. James Cole.
The move means the Department of Justice can withhold the documents from the panel.
The letter came just as the House Oversight Committee was set to vote on a contempt measure against Attorney General Eric Holder for not providing some documents on the botched federal firearms sting operation.
A showdown meeting Tuesday between Holder and panel chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, failed to resolve their dispute over the committee's demand for the Department of Justice to turn over more documents about the program.
"Prepping for #contempt proceedings against #Holder for #FastAndFurious stonewalling. Didn't have to be this way, but we'll do our duty," said a Twitter post by Issa before the committee convened Wednesday.
If the panel approves the contempt measure, it would go to the full House for possible consideration.
After Tuesday's meeting with Issa, Holder said he offered to provide the documents on the condition that Issa gave his assurance that doing so would satisfy two committee subpoenas and resolve the dispute.FULL STORY
The Obama administration announced Friday it will stop deporting young people who came to the United States as children of illegal immigrants if they meet certain requirements.
The Department of Homeland Security said the policy change will cover people younger than 30 who:
– Came to the United States before the age of 16;
– Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years as of June 15, 2012;
– Are in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
– Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.FULL STORY
A fourth congressional committee will look into the Secret Service prostitution scandal in Colombia, joining the acting inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security as well as internal reviews by the agency, the military and the White House.
The top legislators on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said Tuesday they sent a letter to Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan asking for information on the incident last month in Cartagena, Colombia, that has resulted in nine agents resigning or in the process of being forced out.
=Three other Secret Service agents were cleared of serious misconduct, and the military is investigating the alleged involvement of 12 service members.FULL STORY
Mitt Romney's showing in six states was not a super one for the Republican presidential hopeful, who failed to produce the convincing wins needed to demonstrate his ability to generate support among diehard conservatives.
It was best illustrated by Romney's big Super Tuesday win in the bellwether state of Ohio, where he eked out a win over Rick Santorum, after failing to attract strong support from tea party conservatives and evangelical conservatives.
The issue dogs Romney as he heads into the Kansas caucuses on Saturday, and primaries in Mississippi and Alabama on March 13. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Santorum are focusing on races in those conservative states in their battle to become the lone right-wing challenger to the more moderate Romney.
"He still has a problem with the base," said Ari Fleischer, a CNN contributor who was press secretary for President George W. Bush. "That base problem may make him attractive to independents if he gets to a general" election, but can work against Romney in the primary season.
Romney won his home state of Massachusetts as well as Ohio, Idaho, Vermont, Virginia and Alaska, while Santorum took North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee, according to unofficial tallies.
Gingrich grabbed a vital triumph in his home state of Georgia, while Texas Rep. Ron Paul failed to win in any of the states up for grabs.
The Super Tuesday contests in 10 states put 419 delegates up for grabs.FULL STORY