JUDY WOODRUFF: The House of Representatives today approved a bill to fund the government through Saturday, and sent it to the Senate. It buys three more days to pass a $1.1 trillion spending bill for the rest of the fiscal year. The omnibus measure fleshes out the budget deal that Democrats and Republicans reached at the end of last year.
There’s no agreement yet on legislation to restore extended unemployment benefits. Democrats and Republicans clashed again today on the issue. It’s now unclear whether any action is possible before the Senate leaves next week for the Martin Luther King day recess. We will hear more about all of today’s action and inaction in Congress right after the news summary.
President Obama warned Congress today that he means to move his economic agenda one way or the other. At a Cabinet meeting, the president said, “We need all hands on deck to build on the recovery,” and added that means using all the tools available, including executive orders.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help that they need. I have got a pen and I have got a phone. And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The president has already used executive orders to advance some of his ideas on gun control and immigration. Others, including a higher minimum wage and universal preschool, cannot happen without congressional approval.
Internet providers won a big legal victory today on so-called net neutrality. A federal appeals court set aside rules that ensure content providers get equal access to broadband networks, such as Verizon and AT&T. The decision means that the networks are free to decide what gets transmitted to consumers and at what price. The Federal Communications Commission is considering an appeal.
More of the Charleston, W.Va., area was cleared to use tap water today, six days after a chemical spill. A near-total ban has now been lifted for 35 percent of some 300,000 customers. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said today he thinks the entire system should be back up and running by tomorrow.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has apologized again for a scandal involving allegations of political retribution by his staff. Christie had already denied any role in closing part of a busy bridge to punish a Democratic mayor.
Today, the potential Republican presidential contender addressed the issue at the outset of his state of the state address in Trenton.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J.: Mistakes were clearly made. And, as a result, we let down the people we’re entrusted to serve.
I know our citizens deserve better, much better. Now, I’m the governor. And I’m ultimately responsible for all that happens on my watch, both good and bad.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Christie said he will cooperate with state and federal investigations, but he insisted his administration and lawmakers will not let the issue sidetrack the state’s priorities.
French President Francois Hollande had his own high-profile public appearance today, and his personal life was front and center. Hollande held his annual New Year’s news conference days after a tabloid reported that he’s having an affair.
We have a report from James Mates of Independent Television News.
JAMES MATES: The setting in the ornate splendor of the Elysee Palace befits the head of state of a great European power, which is why Francois Hollande’s first appearance since being rumbled making furtive overnight visits to an actress has assumed such importance.
In the French way, a leading journalist was designated to broach the embarrassing subject, nothing too searching.
“Is your partner, Valerie Trierweiler, still the first lady of France,” he asked?
“Private matters are dealt with privately,” was the sum of his answer, though he did say that his partner’s status would be sorted out before he makes an official visit to President Obama in Washington next month.
On the newsstands, the press have been less respectful, and, as for claims the French don’t care about the private lives of their leaders, Closer magazine, which published the photos, has had to rush out an emergency reprint to satisfy demand. The only good news, it doesn’t seem to have cost him any popularity.
FRANCOIS-XAVIER BOURMAUD, journalist: There is not a lot of damage on his popularity because he was already very low in popularity. I guess he was at 20 percent, and it was lowest level ever known to a president in France.
JAMES MATES: Valerie Trierweiler, the woman who may or may not still be France’s first lady, remains in hospital undergoing what the French call a cure de sommeil, a sleep cure, in which she is kept sedated until she feels better. She may be there for the rest of the week, but when she comes out, that’s when the real trouble for the president, personal and political, may begin.
JUDY WOODRUFF: In Iran today, President Hassan Rouhani claimed his government won a victory with a landmark nuclear agreement. Under the deal, Iran is to scale back its nuclear enrichment in exchange for economic sanctions relief over the next six months. Rouhani told supporters in the city of Ahwaz that the U.S. and others caved to Iran’s demands.
PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI, Iran (through interpreter): The Geneva agreement will be put into action within the next few days. Do you know what the Geneva means? It means the surrender of great international powers before the great nation of Iran. The Geneva agreement means the breaking of the barrier of sanctions that had been imposed wrongfully on this dear and peace-loving nation of Iran.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Iranian hard-liners have criticized the deal, arguing it infringes on Tehran’s right to nuclear enrichment.
A little later in the program, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates also weighs in on the Iran agreement.
The National Football League’s concussion settlement with former players ran into a body block today. A federal judge in Philadelphia denied preliminary approval of the deal worth $765 million. She voiced doubts that it’s big enough to cover the health costs for some 20,000 retired players. The judge asked for more financial information.
Wall Street bounced back from Monday’s plunge, thanks to an upbeat report on retail sales. The Dow Jones industrial average gained almost 116 points to close near 16,374. The Nasdaq rose nearly 70 points to close at 4,183.