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Friday, January 4, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

155,000 Jobs Added, Unemployment Stays at 7.8% - Employers added workers in December at about the same pace as the prior month, and the unemployment rate matched a four-year low, showing sustained gains in the U.S. labor market even as lawmakers were struggling to reach a budget deal. has more here.


Diversity in 113th Congress - A record number of women and racial minorities were elected to the 113th Congress, which was sworn in Thursday. Among them was the first Buddhist to join the Senate, as well as the first Hindu and the first openly bisexual woman in the House.

House Democrats became the first caucus in the history of either chamber not to have a majority of white men.  The Washington Post has more here.


House To Vote on First Sandy Relief Bill Today - A $9.7 billion measure to pay flood insurance claims, which amounts to just a down payment on a multibillion-dollar aid commitment, is expected to be approved by the House on Friday, boosting prospects for relief for the many home and business owners devastated by the storm. If the House acts as expected, the Senate plans to follow with a likely uncontested vote later in the day.

The flood insurance measure is the first phase of a proposed Sandy aid package. Under Boehner's new schedule, the House will vote Jan. 15 on an additional $51 billion in recovery money. Senate action on that measure is expected the following week. Financially strapped local governments are awaiting that money.  You can read more here.


New Gun Control Bill Introduced By House Democrats - The High Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act, which is being introduced by Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., and is co-sponsored by Diana DeGette, D-Colo., would ban the sale or transfer of ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds. That standard was the federal mandate between 1994 and 2004 under the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.  CBS News has more here.


Giffords To Visit Newtown - Former Rep. Gabby Giffords will visit Newtown, Conn., Friday — just weeks after the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Giffords will meet at a Newtown home and it will not be open to the public, NBC News reported Thursday.

Earlier this week, Giffords and her husband astronaut Mark Kelly met with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to discuss gun control, The Associated Press reported.

Nearly two years ago, Jared Loughner shot Giffords — then an Arizona Democratic congresswoman — at a campaign event in Tucscon , killing six and injuring others. has more here.


Obama Eases Visa Requirements of Undocumented Immigrants - The Obama administration’s decision this week to ease visa requirements for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants represents its latest move to reshape immigration through executive action, even as the White House gears up for an uncertain political fight over a far-more-sweeping legislative package in the months ahead.

The latest policy change is focused on illegal immigrants who have a spouse, parent or child with U.S. citizenship. Currently, in order to become legal they must leave the United States and apply for a waiver forgiving their unlawful presence in the country. Only then can they apply for an immigrant visa. And if they don’t get a waiver, they are barred from returning to the United States for up to 10 years, depending on the case.

The specter of being barred deterred many from applying. But under the rule change finalized Wednesday, those who qualify will be able to apply for waivers from within the United States starting March 4. Applicants must return to their native country for a brief period for the consular immigrant visa process. The Washington Post has more here.


Treasury Secretary To Step Down By End of Month - Timothy Geithner's exit will most likely take place prior to an agreement on the debt ceiling and the negotiations on the sequester budget cuts.  White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew remains the leading contender for the Treasury job. has more here.


Barney Frank Wants To Be Placeholder for Kerry Seat - the former Democratic Massachusetts Representative, who did not run for relection, wants to be appointed by Governor Deval Patrick (D) should Senator John Kerry be confirmed as Secretary of State.

"I'm not going to be coy. It's not anything I've ever been good at," Frank said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "I've told the governor that I would now like, frankly, to do that because I would like to be a part of that. It's only a three-month period. I wouldn't want to do anything more. I don't want to run again." has more here.


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