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News Wrap: President Obama urges Congress to take action on immigration reform

October 24, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
In our news wrap Thursday, President Obama urged Congress to focus on passing immigration reform. Also, two people have tested positive for polio in Syria in the first outbreak of the crippling disease there in 14 years.
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GWEN IFILL: The people who built the government’s health care website pointed the finger today at the government. The contractors told a House hearing they tested their own components, but that the Department of Health and Human Services didn’t do comprehensive testing of the entire system before its Oct. 1 launch. We will have more on that right after the news summary.

The Food and Drug Administration is calling for new curbs on prescribing commonly used narcotic painkillers. Today’s recommendation affects Vicodin and similar drugs that contain hydrocodone. The FDA says it wants limit access to those powerful medications by reducing the number of refills allowed. The new rules could take effect next year.

President Obama urged Congress today to pass immigration reform by the end of this year. With the government shutdown crisis over, he said now is the time to complete work on the immigration issue.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  We have got the time to do it. Republicans in the House, including the speaker, have said we should act. So, let’s not wait. It doesn’t get easier to just put it off. Let’s do it now. Let’s not delay. Let’s get this done. And let’s do it in a bipartisan fashion.

GWEN IFILL: The Senate approved a bipartisan overhaul bill this past summer, but it remains stuck in the Republican-led House. Still, House Speaker John Boehner said this week he believes his chamber could gather the votes to act by year’s end.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called today for restoring trust with the U.S., amid allegations that her cell phone calls were intercepted. But Merkel insisted that spying among friends cannot be. The German Foreign Ministry also summoned the U.S. ambassador for an explanation. We will hear more on the diplomatic fallout from U.S. surveillance later in the program.

Syria has reported its first outbreak of polio in 14 years. The World Health Organization said today two people have tested positive for the crippling disease. At least 20 others are suspected of contracting it. Aid groups are planning vaccination campaigns.

The governors of New York, California and six other states pledged today to put more than three million zero-emission vehicles on the roads by 2025. The states taking part also include Oregon, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maryland. Their compact calls for offering financial incentives, creating more electric car charging stations, and buying clean cars for their government fleets.

In economic news, Ford reported a record profit for the third quarter of the year, after selling one-and-a-half million cars. And Southwest Airlines reported sharply higher earnings as well. That was welcome news on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 95 points to close at 15,509. The Nasdaq rose almost 22 points to close near 3,929.