Hopes dim for immigration bill this year
Speaker John Boehner on Thursday all but ruled out passage of immigration legislation before fall elections, saying it would be hard 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.
Unemployment bill stalls anew
The Senate remained gridlocked Thursday over an effort to renew emergency unemployment insurance for the long-term jobless, including more than 1.7 million Americans who lost their benefits when the federal program expired in late December. In a largely party-line vote, Democrats were one vote shy of the 60 needed to break a filibuster by Republicans, who said the latest proposal did not have a proper offsetting spending cut to lessen the impact on the federal deficit.
Baucus voted in as China ambassador
The Senate easily confirmed longtime Sen. Max Baucus on Thursday to become ambassador to China, handing the job to a lawmaker well-versed in U.S. trade policy but with little expertise about military and other issues that have raised tensions with Beijing. Senators approved the nomination of the moderate Baucus, D-Mont., by 96-0. Baucus, 72, had already announced he would not seek re-election this fall when Obama tapped him last December for the ambassadorship.
Haiti still needs help, Obama says
Four years after an earthquake devastated Haiti, President Barack Obama on Thursday praised the rebound taking place but said more work must be done. At his first official meeting with Haitian President Michel Martelly, Obama pledged America will remain a partner in that process.