Nation roundup for February 7
Unemployment bill stalled anew
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans narrowly blocked the advance of legislation to restore benefits for the long-term unemployed on Thursday for the second time in less than a month, and Democrats said they intended to call yet another vote on the issue.
“We’re one Republican vote away from restoring unemployment benefits for 1.7 million Americans,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said.
The White House called the outcome disappointing.
The measure called for a three-month renewal of an expired program that provided up to 47 weeks of federal benefits when state-paid aid runs out, generally after 26 weeks. The cost was estimated at slightly more than $6 billion over a decade. It would have been offset by lowering pension obligations for some companies, a step that would have increased their taxable income.
The vote was 58-40, two shy of the 60 that backers of the measure needed to prevail.
Hopes dim for immigration fixes
WASHINGTON (AP) — Speaker John Boehner on Thursday all but ruled out passage of immigration legislation before this fall’s elections, saying it would be difficult for the Republican-led House to act on the issue that President Barack Obama has made a top domestic priority.
In his most pessimistic comments, Boehner blamed the stalemate on widespread skepticism that Obama would properly enforce any immigration reforms that Congress approved.
The GOP leader didn’t mention that his own members have balked at acting on the contentious issue, which could enrage core conservative voters in the midterm election year.
“The American people, including many of our members, don’t trust that the reform we’re talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be,” Boehner told reporters.
Rules proposed for infant formula
WASHINGTON (AP) — After nearly two decades of study, the Food and Drug Administration proposed rules Thursday designed to make sure that infant formula is safe and nutritious.
Most formula makers already abide by the practices, but the FDA now will have rules on the books that ensure formula manufacturers test their products for salmonella and other pathogens before distribution. The rules also require formula firms to prove to the FDA they are including specific nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins in products.
It is already law that formula must include those nutrients, which help babies stay healthy. But the new rules will help the FDA keep tabs on companies to make sure they are following the law. The rule would require firms to provide data to the FDA proving their formulas support normal growth and that ingredients are of sufficient quality.
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