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News Wrap: GOP Advances Attempt to Repeal Health Reform

January 7, 2011 at 3:33 PM EST
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KWAME HOLMAN: Wall Street drifted lower today, partly over disappointment with the jobs report. And bank stocks were hurt when the top court in Massachusetts voided home foreclosures by Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 22 points to close at 11674. The Nasdaq fell six points to close at 2703. For the week, the Dow gained just under 1 percent; the Nasdaq rose nearly 2 percent.

The new Republican majority in the House has begun moving toward trying to repeal the health care reform law. The rule for next week’s debate was approved today, almost entirely along party lines. Democrats argued repeal would hurt millions of Americans, while Republicans insisted they will come up with something better.

REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D-Mass.): GOP used to stand for Grand Old Party. Now it stands for grandma’s out of prescriptions. The Republicans don’t-care repeal shows they don’t care about sick children with medical bills, pushing families into bankruptcy; they don’t care about grandma and grandpa who need help paying for prescription drugs.

REP. DAVID DREIER (R-Calif.): All the attention is focused on the fact that we are going to be trying to kill good provisions that are out there.

Madam Speaker, we want to start with a clean slate. We are going to repeal President Obama’s job-killing health care bill and replace it with real solutions.

KWAME HOLMAN: A final House vote on the health care repeal is set for Wednesday, but it’s not expected to go anywhere in the Democratic- controlled Senate.

President Obama signed a defense bill today blocks transferring Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. But the president attached a signing statement that says he will work to overturn that provision. He called it a dangerous and unprecedented challenge to executive branch authority.

In Afghanistan, a suicide bomber killed at least 17 people in a bathhouse near the Pakistan border. The attacker blew himself up as Muslim men gathered to bathe before Friday prayers. More than 20 others were wounded. Elsewhere, three NATO soldiers were killed in separate roadside bombings. A total of nine coalition troops have died in Afghanistan in the year’s first week.

The government of Pakistan staved off political crisis today. The party known as MQM, a key part of the ruling coalition, reversed its decision to quit the government and join the opposition. The leader of MQM announced the move in Karachi.

RAZA HAROON, leader, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (through translator): MQM has made sacrifices in the past for the sake of the country and democracy. And, as of today, once again, when the country calls for sacrifice, in view of the prime minister’s friendly gestures, for the promotion of democracy and the national crisis, we announce that we will join the treasury benches.

KWAME HOLMAN: The announcement came a day after Prime Minister Raza Yousuf Gilani backed down on unpopular economic cuts, including a hike in fuel prices.

A post office in Washington, D.C., had a parcel scare today after similar episodes in Maryland. No one was hurt when a small package ignited at a postal facility in the northeast section of Washington. Wire reports said it was addressed to Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security.

The FBI said the parcel resembled two that showed up Thursday a Maryland state office buildings. They contained a note criticizing highway signs that urge people to report suspicious activity.

NPR, the National Public Radio organization, has begun a search to replace its top news editor. Ellen Weiss resigned Thursday. A company review found she mishandled the firing of news analyst Juan Williams last October. He was dismissed over remarks he made on FOX News Channel. The incident has led to Republican bills in Congress to cut funding for public broadcasting.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.