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REPUBLICAN HOUSE LEADERS ENDORSE MCCAIN

WASHINGTON

A day after winning the Potomac Primary, Arizona Sen. John McCain was handed another victory Wednesday when he was unexpectedly endorsed by the entire House GOP leadership. Republican leaders had said Tuesday they intended to remain neutral, but after an hourlong, closed-door session with the senator, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and House Republican Conference chairman Adam Putnam, R-Fla., all fell in line.

JANESVILLE, Wis.

Obama offers economic plan

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday that as president he would spend $210-billion over 10 years to create jobs in construction and environmental industries as part of two programs. The larger is $150-billion to create 5-million so-called "green collar" jobs to develop more environmentally friendly energy sources. Sixty-billion dollars would go to a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank to rebuild highways, bridges, airports and other public projects, generating nearly 2-million jobs. Obama said the money for his proposals will come from ending the Iraq war, cutting tax breaks for corporations, taxing carbon pollution and raising taxes on high-income earners. Neera Tanden, policy director for rival Hillary Rodham Clinton, said Obama was offering ideas that Clinton proposed months ago.

Endorsement: David Wilhelm, who served as national manager of former President Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign, endorsed Obama on Wednesday.

ALBANY, N.Y.

Health insurers under investigation

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said he will sue Ingenix, its parent UnitedHealth Group and three subsidiaries, saying the insurers are defrauding consumers by manipulating how much doctors and hospitals are reimbursed. Cuomo also sent 16 subpoenas to insurance companies including Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp. and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. The case contends that insurance companies are underpaying consumers who use out-of-plan physicians. No company or individual has been charged with wrongdoing. Cuomo said he wants to end what he calls a fraudulent practice and also to seek restitution for customers. In a statement, UnitedHealth defended its data for setting reimbursement rates.

CAPE CANAVERAL

Astronauts install fresh gas tank

Two spacewalking astronauts, one of them a German who was too sick from an undisclosed illness to venture outside a few days earlier, supplied the international space station with a fresh tank of nitrogen gas Wednesday. Atlantis will remain at the space station until Monday. Mission managers on Wednesday decided to keep the shuttle there an extra day so its seven astronauts can help set up Europe's space station lab. Atlantis' thermal shielding has been completely cleared for re-entry, with touchdown now set for Feb. 20.

ASHEVILLE, N.C.

Billy Graham alert after brain surgery

A doctor said Southern Baptist evangelist Billy Graham, 89, was "bright and alert" after successful surgery Wednesday to update a shunt that controls excess fluid in his brain.

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