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House lawmakers again move to freeze their paychecks; salaries would remain at $174K per year

WASHINGTON - With the approval ratings of Congress still in the gutter, House leaders are engineering another freeze in lawmakers' automatic cost-of-living pay hike. The move would freeze congressional salaries at $174,000 a year and is attached to legislation to fund Congress' budget, which was approved by a House Appropriations panel on Thursday. Lawmakers haven't received a pay hike since January 2009.

US senators strike deal to extend jobless insurance

US senators struck a bipartisan deal Thursday that would reinstate emergency benefits for two million of America's long-term unemployed, easing a months-long congressional impasse. A group of 10 senators thrashed out the agreement, which would extend for five more months the benefits that ran out in late 2013 amid congressional bickering over how the insurance would be paid for.

Stymied Obama aims to bypass Congress

President Barack Obama will serve notice in his State of the Union address he intends to bypass Congress whenever necessary to regain initiative after a year of debilitating legislative logjams, aides said Sunday "I think what we saw last year in 2013 was a Washington that did not deliver for the American people," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in an interview with ABC's "This Week."

Americans say US Congress is worst ever

Two thirds of Americans say the current Congress is the worst ever, while three quarters slammed the "do-nothing" legislature, a CNN/ORC International poll found Thursday. The negative attitudes were expressed toward leading lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, with 52 percent saying the policies of Democrats would move the country in the wrong direction, compared to 54 percent for Republican policies. And 54 percent of respondents said the same thing about the policies of President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

Democrat senator urges more openness with Congress on proposed Pacific trade pact

WASHINGTON - An influential Democratic senator says the Obama administration needs to be more open with Congress to win support for a trans-Pacific trade pact under negotiation with 11 countries. Sen. Ben Cardin told a congressional hearing Wednesday there's been inadequate dialogue with lawmakers, and he expressed frustration the administration has not obtained congressional authority to negotiate the deal.

Mexican senators approve electoral, anti-corruption bills

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's Senate gave final congressional approval on Friday to an electoral reform bill that allows for the re-election of lawmakers, and also pushed forward legislation that would create an anti-corruption watchdog. The electoral bill, which opposition conservatives demanded in exchange for supporting President Enrique Pena Nieto's landmark energy overhaul approved this week, will now be sent to state lawmakers. Lawmakers in 16 out of Mexico's 31 states need to ratify the legislation.

Senate delays holding up appointing US ambassadors

The State Department on Thursday hit out at delays and infighting in the Senate that have led to a backlog of hearings to confirm new US ambassadors. Two nomination hearings had been due to be held by the Senate Foreign Relations committee on Thursday for 10 nominees to vacant posts, including the next envoy to key Washington ally Saudi Arabia. But the hearings were postponed at the last minute when a Republican senator objected.

Secondary laws for Mexico telecoms overhaul to be delayed: lawmakers

By Dave Graham MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Legislation to implement a major overhaul of Mexico's telecommunications industry will not be approved until early next year, pushing back a deadline set for December, two senior lawmakers said on Saturday. The secondary laws set out the fine print for a telecoms reform promulgated in June by President Enrique Pena Nieto which gives regulators sweeping powers to rein in billionaire Carlos Slim's telecoms giant America Movil and dominant broadcaster Televisa.

In display of bipartisanship, House poised to pass first water projects bill since 2007

WASHINGTON - Uniting against some of the same conservative groups that encouraged the government shutdown, Republicans and Democrats united Wednesday behind an $8.2 billion House bill mapping dams, harbour, river navigation and other water projects for the coming decade. Members of both parties praised the measure just a week after Congress voted to end a bitterly partisan standoff that shuttered much of the federal government for 16 days and threatened a first-ever default on its debt.

Conservative group urges 'no' vote on deal to end U.S. shutdown

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Club for Growth, a conservative advocacy group that backs lower government spending, urged the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday to vote "no" on a bipartisan deal to raise the debt limit and end the federal shutdown. In a letter to congressional offices from Andy Roth, the group's vice president of government affairs, the Club for Growth said the deal announced by Senate leaders appears to include no changes in expensive entitlement programs and no spending cuts.
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