Obama leads all presidents in first-year travel
With his unsuccessful visit to Denmark to pitch Chicago as the site for the 2016 summer Olympics, President Barack Obama has now visited more countries in his first year in office than any other president. His one-day trek last week to Denmark made it the 16th country Obama has visited since taking office on Jan. 20. That made him the country's top globetrotting leader in his freshman year, passing the previous record holders: George H.W. Bush, who hit 15 countries in 1990, and Gerald Ford, who also jetted off to 15 nations after taking office midway through 1974. Those two were just ahead of Richard Nixon, who in 1969 went to a then-unheard of 14 countries in his first 12 months. Obama will add more before his first year anniversary. He visits China, Japan, Singapore and South Korea next month.
Tax credit for homes may be extended
Democratic congressional leaders are working with the White House to extend an expiring $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers, and aides said Wednesday that they were considering making it available to current homeowners who buy a new residence. Extending and possibly expanding the popular credit, which is due to expire after November, is high among options for further stimulating the economy and creating jobs, congressional aides said, though a White House official said it was only briefly mentioned Wednesday in an Oval Office meeting among President Barack Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader.
Compromise reached on Gitmo detainees
Congressional leaders have decided to allow detainees imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be brought to the United States to face civilian or military trials, legislative aides said Wednesday. The compromise, attached to $42.8 billion spending bill for the Homeland Security Department, would forbid the Obama administration from releasing detainees in the United States and would require advance notification to Congress when any detainee was sent to another country.
GOP effort against Rangel is defeated
House Democrats on Wednesday blocked a Republican effort to force Rep. Charles B. Rangel from the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee and instead referred the demand to the ethics panel already investigating him. As expected, the House voted 246-153 to essentially table the call for the ouster of Rangel, D-N.Y. Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, had sought Rangel's removal in a resolution that said national attention to financial lapses by the chairman of the tax-writing committee has "held the House up to public ridicule." Under rules governing consideration of such resolutions in the House, there was no debate on the proposal.