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Friday: Iraq to Release Election Results; House Approves Senate Fixes

upporters of Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri

Supporters of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad demand a vote recount ahead of the final results for the country’s general election. Photo by Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images.

Iraq on Friday will announce results from nationwide parliamentary elections held on March 7. The unexpectedly close race between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the nation’s former prime minister, Ayad Allawi, has been plagued by allegations of fraud. However, the head of Iraq’s election commission has rejected calls for a recount.

We’ll have more on the results here later and on Friday’s NewsHour.

House Approves Senate Fixes to Health Bill

Congress concluded the long legislative battle over health care reform on Thursday, as both the House and the Senate passed a package of fixes to the overhaul signed into law by President Barack Obama earlier this week.

Among the changes is a revamp of the Pell Grant program for low-income college students, and increased subsidies for low- and middle-income Americans to purchase insurance.

Congress now heads home for a two-week recess beginning March 29. As the recess nears, though, several lawmakers are facing threats over their votes for health care reform.

On Thursday’s NewsHour, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel rejected the notion that Republican lawmakers were fanning the flames. But he told Jim Lehrer, “Every elected official, regardless of where they are on the political spectrum or where they are — were on the issue of health care, has a responsibility to help calm the waters.”

Economy Grew More Than Expected

Revised figures from the Commerce Department show the U.S. economy grew at a rate of 5.6 percent at the end of 2009, less than previously thought but still the best performance in six years.

Obama to Announce Plan to Aid Homeowners

The Obama administration is set to announce a broad expansion of its efforts to stem home foreclosures, including a new drive to slash monthly mortgage payments for some borrowers.

The changes are largely designed to direct aid to borrowers who are unemployed, as well as the more than 11 million homeowners — nearly a quarter of all Americans with a mortgage — who owe more than their houses are worth.

We have more on the plan here.

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