News Wrap: House Republicans Attempt to Delay Health Reform Mandates
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KWAME HOLMAN: House Republicans moved today to delay key provisions in President Obama’s health care overhaul. It was the 38th time they have voted to repeal or scale back the law.
The latest bills would postpone the law’s mandates for individual and employer-based coverage. The Obama administration already has delayed the mandate for larger businesses.
The Federal Reserve’s timetable for dialing down its economic stimulus efforts remains flexible. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke underscored that today. He said he still thinks the Central Bank could start reducing its buying of government bonds this year. Bernanke told a House committee it depends on job creation, and is not preset.
BEN BERNANKE, Federal Reserve chairman: If the data are stronger than we expect, we will move more quickly, at the same time maintaining the accommodation through rate policy. If the data are less strong, if they don’t meet the kinds of expectations we have about where the economy is going, then we would delay that process or even potentially increase purchases for a time.
KWAME HOLMAN: On Wall Street, stocks took Bernanke’s testimony mostly in stride. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 18 points to close at 15,470. The Nasdaq rose 11 points to close at 3,610.
The Cleveland man accused of holding three women captive for more than a decade pleaded not guilty today to hundreds of charges. Ariel Castro faces 977 counts, ranging from aggravated murder, involving a terminated pregnancy and rape, to kidnapping and assault. Castro is in jail on an $8 million bond. His trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 5.
Al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen has announced the death of its second-in-command, Saeed al-Shihri. The group said today that al-Shihri, seen here in 2011, died of injuries from a U.S. drone strike in November. He was hit while speaking on his cell phone. Al-Shihri spent six years at a U.S. prison as a U.S. prisoner in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was returned to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and fled to Yemen.
A prominent commander of the Pakistani Taliban voiced regret today for the shooting of Malala Yousafzai. The teenage advocate of educating girls was wounded in October. She has since recovered. Now, in a letter to the 16-year-old, Adnan Rashid calls the attack shocking and says he wished it had not happened. But he stopped short of apologizing.
Officials in Eastern India now say at least 22 children died Tuesday after eating a free school lunch contaminated with insecticide. Parents rushed to a nearby hospital with children who’d consumed the meal of rice, lentils, soybeans, and potatoes. Later, villagers vented their anger, toppling kiosks and smashing police buses. A state official said the grain may not have been properly washed.
Queen Elizabeth formally approved gay marriage in Britain today. That made it official a day after parliament voted to legalize same-sex unions. The new law allows gay couples to be married in both civil and religious ceremonies. The Church of England will not take part.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.