News Wrap: IRS Replaces Official Who Refused to Answer Questions at Hearing
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Another head has rolled at the Internal Revenue Service over targeting conservative groups. The IRS announced today it has replaced Lois Lerner, the official in charge of the agents who did the targeting. The Associated Press reported she has been placed on administrative leave. Lerner has insisted she did nothing wrong. Yesterday, she refused to answer a House committee’s questions, citing her right against self-incrimination.
The U.S. House voted today to peg federal student loan rates to those set by financial markets. Republicans said it will forestall a doubling of the current rates set to take effect on July 1st and divorce the issue from politics. Democrats warned the move to variable-rate loans could lead to higher costs in coming years, if market rates rise.
REP. JOHN KLINE, R-Minn.: We want to help students. We want to give them certainty, and we want them not to rely on the whims of politicians here, and we want also not to put a burden on the American people and the taxpayer, not add, not add to that debt.
REP. DAVID CICILLINE, D-R.I.: This bill will hurt young people and middle-class families who are already struggling with crushing student loan debt. The idea that as a country we make money on the pursuit by young people of their education is plain wrong.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Democrats want to keep the subsidized rates at 3.4 percent for another two years, at a cost of nine billion dollars. The House bill is given little chance in the Senate, where Democrats have the majority.
House Republicans pushed through another bill last night to speed approval of the Keystone oil pipeline, bypassing President Obama. It applies to a stretch of pipeline from Canada to Nebraska. The president has delayed approval of that section, but he did approve work on the southern portion of the pipeline extending to Texas. That bill, too, is expected to fail in the Senate.
The Boy Scouts of America will allow openly gay Scouts to join the organization. The policy change today followed a close vote by the Boy Scouts’ national council in Texas. The decision came after the national executive board deferred in February. The change is effective in January. A ban on gay adult leaders remains in place.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 12 points to close at 15,294. The Nasdaq fell nearly four points to close at 3,459.
Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Judy.