Obama delaying debt-limit request
HONOLULU - President Obama is delaying his request for an additional $1.2 trillion increase in the nation's debt limit at the request of congressional leaders.
It is basically because of a technicality. The White House had been ready to ask for the increase Friday because the government is within $100 billion of exhausting its borrowing authority. Congress would then have 15 days to reject the request, though Obama would veto any objections to ensure that the government does not default on its obligations.
But with Congress not due to reconvene until mid-January, a bipartisan group of lawmakers asked Obama to delay his request so they would be in session during the 15-day period allowed for objections. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the administration and congressional leaders were discussing the best timing for the request and any subsequent votes. A senior White House official said Obama would make his request, which would boost the debt limit to a record $16.4 trillion, within days. - AP
Court puts new EPA rule on hold
WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court in Washington on Friday put on hold a controversial Obama administration regulation aimed at reducing power-plant pollution in 27 states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, that contributes to unhealthy air downwind.
More than a dozen electric-power companies, municipal power-plant operators, and states sought to delay the rules until litigation plays out. The court approved their request.
Republicans in Congress have tried to block the rule, saying it would shutter some older, coal-fired power plants and kill jobs. Those efforts succeeded in the GOP-controlled House but were rejected in the Senate. The EPA estimates that in the first two years, the regulation and some other steps would have slashed sulfur dioxide emissions 73 percent from 2005 levels and cut nitrogen oxides by more than half. The EPA said it was confident the rule would ultimately be upheld on its merits. - AP
U.S. to mandate safer train exits
WASHINGTON - Passengers on Amtrak and commuter railroads could escape trains more easily after accidents under a rule proposed by regulators 14 years after the National Transportation Safety Board recommended it.
Passenger trains, like planes, would be required to have doors that can be opened in emergencies and lighting to guide riders to exits if it is dark or if a railcar fills with smoke, the Federal Railroad Administration said in the proposed rule, posted Friday in the Federal Register. The rule's cost would range from $21.8 million to $40.8 million over 20 years, the agency said. - Bloomberg News
U.S. regulators tracking the origins of illnesses in two infants said Friday that the cases that triggered a store withdrawal of Mead Johnson Nutrition Co.'s baby formula are not connected, according to genetic tests of the bacteria that infected them. There is not a need for a recall of infant formula, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.