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Articles written by Alan Fram


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  • Senate blocks expanded gun sale background checks

    ALAN FRAM, DAVID ESPO, Associated Press

    (Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., voted against background checks legislation. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., voted yes.) WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans, backed by a small band of rural-state Democrats, turned away legislation Wednesday to tighten restrictions on the sale of firearms, rejecting repeated appeals from President Barack Obama and personal pleas by families of the victims of last winter's mass elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Attempts to ban assault-style rifles and high capacity ammunition magazines also f...

  • Gun control bill clears first hurdle in Senate

    ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — With teary-eyed relatives of the Newtown school massacre watching, gun control supporters in the Senate won the first showdown over how to respond to the December shootings in Connecticut, defeating an effort by conservatives to derail firearms restrictions before debate could even start. The 68-31 roll call gave an early burst of momentum to efforts by President Barack Obama and lawmakers to push fresh gun curbs through Congress. The National Rifle Association, along with many Republicans and some m...

  • Congress OKs cliff deal, signaling future fights

    ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — Congress' excruciating, extraordinary New Year's Day approval of a compromise averting a prolonged tumble off the fiscal cliff hands President Barack Obama most of the tax boosts on the rich that he campaigned on. It also prevents House Republicans from facing blame for blocking tax cuts for most American households, though most GOP lawmakers parted ways with Speaker John Boehner and opposed the measure. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, passes waiting reporters as he l...

  • Congress OKs cliff deal, signaling future fights

    ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — Congress' excruciating, extraordinary New Year's Day approval of a compromise averting a prolonged tumble off the fiscal cliff hands President Barack Obama most of the tax boosts on the rich that he campaigned on. It also prevents House Republicans from facing blame for blocking tax cuts for most American households, though most GOP lawmakers parted ways with Speaker John Boehner and opposed the measure. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, passes waiting reporters as he l... Full story

  • Senate leaders offer dour take on 'cliff' talks

    ALAN FRAM, ANDREW TAYLOR Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — The top Senate negotiators on the effort to prevent the government from going over the "fiscal cliff" offered a pessimistic assessment Sunday barely 24 hours before a deadline to avert tax hikes on virtually every worker. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he's yet to receive a response to an offer he made on Saturday evening to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the top Democratic negotiator. The Kentucky Republican said he's reached out to Vice President Joe Biden in hopes of breaking the impasse a... Full story

  • GOP ignores veto threat, passes student loan bill

    ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — Republicans have ignored a White House veto threat and passed a bill to keep interest rates on millions of federal student loans from doubling this summer. The House approved the bill Friday on a 215-195 vote, despite pressure from conservative groups. The election-year bill has evolved from a dispute over helping students into a battle between the two parties over how to help families cope with the weak job market and ailing economy. The White House and most Democrats opposed the $5.9 billion bill because of h... Full story

  • Senate heads toward showdown vote on student loans

    ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — The Senate is steaming toward a showdown on a Democratic proposal to keep student loan interest rates from doubling for 7.4 million students. In a measure of how the upcoming election is driving work in Congress these days, it's a vote Democrats won't terribly mind losing — which is probably what will happen. The Senate planned a Tuesday roll call on the plan, which would extend today's 3.4 percent interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans for another year. Without congressional action, those rates will dou...

  • Boehner, Reid preparing to move on debt limit

    ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

    AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi Money traders work under a screen flashing the U.S. dollar against the Japanese yen at a foreign exchange market in Tokyo. Markets around the world were watching nervously as congressional Democrats and Republicans struggled through another day of difficult talks but failed to agree on cutting U.S. spending and raising the debt limit, a necessary measure to prevent an unprecedented Aug. 2 default. WASHINGTON — Democratic and Republican congressional leaders shopped competing debt-crisis solutions a...

  • Bargainers prepare 2-month payroll tax cut

    ALAN FRAM, DAVID ESPO - The Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says congressional bargainers are preparing a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut and expiring jobless benefits as a fallback plan in case negotiations on a yearlong package don't succeed. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., left, accompanied by Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois show the front page story of the Washington Post during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday to discuss the payroll tax c...

  • Pelosi names final members to debt supercommittee

    ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has appointed three Democrats to Congress' new debt-reduction supercommittee, completing the 12-member panel's roster. The California Democrat appointed Reps. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina and Xavier Becerra of California, who are both members of the party's House leadership teams. She also named Maryland's Chris Van Hollen, top Democrat on the Budget Committee. Pelosi's appointments bring racial diversity to the supercommittee because Clyburn is black and Becerra is H...

  • Merchants beat bankers in Senate debit card vote

    ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — Merchants triumphed over bankers in a battle for billions Wednesday as the Senate voted to let the Federal Reserve curb the fees that stores pay financial institutions when a customer swipes a debit card. It was murkier, however, whether the nation's consumers were winners or losers. As a result of the roll call, the Fed will be allowed to issue final rules on July 21 trimming the average 44 cents that banks charge for each debit card transaction. That fee, typically 1 to 2 percent of each purchase, produces $... Full story

  • Senate's fix to health law slowed by snag

    ALAN FRAM Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON

    Brushing off a snag in the Senate, House Democratic leaders said they are prepared to finish work by late today on a package of fixes to the big health care law signed by President Barack Obama. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a statement this morning that if the Senate finishes its work by the afternoon, as expected, the House will immediately take up the bill. Democrats are saying they do not expect any major problems — but they're also keeping their fingers crossed. "The Senate is expected to complete work t... Full story

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