New Congress will take fresh crack at old problems

A statue of the United States first President, George Washington, is seen under the Capitol dome in Washington.

The new 113th U.S. Congress, which convenes on Thursday, is set to take a fresh crack at a number of old, and highly contentious, issues, such as gun control, immigration, the record debt, tax reform and the farm bill.

Here’s a look:



GUN CONTROL

President Barack Obama vows to crack down on gun violence in the wake of the school massacre last month in Newtown, Connecticut, the latest in a series of shooting rampages over the past decade.

According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll, 58 percent of Americans now back tougher gun laws, but 51 percent oppose Obama’s call to outlaw so-called assault weapons.

A sharply divided Congress is awaiting a broad review of gun violence headed by Vice President Joe Biden.

IMMIGRATION

Hispanic voters last year helped Obama win a second term and Democrats to increase their clout in Congress.

Republicans took notice and want to win Hispanic support in the 2014 elections. One step toward that goal would be for Republicans to become more open to immigration reform.

The big question is how far Republicans would go to provide a path toward citizenship for illegal immigrants, estimated to number up to 12 million in the United States.

SEQUESTRATION

The White House and Congress managed to cut a deal on the “fiscal cliff” by agreeing to a two-month delay to sequestration – automatic spending cuts that were set to take effect on January 1.

Obama and lawmakers now have until March 1 to reach agreement on about $85 billion in spending reductions. If they do not, they will see across-the-board ones kick in, about evenly split between military and domestic programs.

DEBT LIMIT

Obama and Congress likely have until the end of February to raise the U.S. debt limit, now at $16.4 trillion.

Failure to do so would result in an unprecedented U.S. default, a move likely to rattle financial markets worldwide.

Obama says he will refuse to allow the debt limit to become a political bargaining tool again.

But Republicans do not seem be willing to raise it without extracting major spending cuts, mostly from government programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

FARM BILL

Congress gave itself a new deadline, September 30, to complete an overdue five-year, $500 billion farm bill that withered in election-year acrimony in 2012.

The House version proposed the deepest cuts in a generation for food stamps for the poor. But fiscal conservatives want more cuts in food stamps as well as farm subsidies.

The bills produced last year by the House and Senate agriculture committees would have cut between $23 billion and $35 billion. They will dig deeper in the months ahead.

It will be the first time Congress began work on a farm bill in one session and had to refile it in the new session.

HURRICANE SANDY RELIEF

Under pressure from fellow Republicans inside and outside of Congress, including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the Republican-led House is expected to move quickly in coming weeks to approve a long-delayed relief package for victims of superstorm Sandy in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

SENATE FILIBUSTER

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is fed up with Republican procedural roadblocks commonly known as filibusters.

So Reid, to the outrage of Republicans, vows to try to change the rules – unless both sides enter some sort of an agreement to make the chamber work more efficiently.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Obama’s fellow Democrats will take another crack at trying to renew the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, which was championed nearly two decades ago by Biden, then a senator.

The measure is designed to combat domestic abuse, but became a legislative vehicle in Congress last year for Democrats and Republicans to jockey for political position.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Apple says its systems not to blame for…

By Edwin Chan and Christina FarrSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The week before a crucial launch of its new iPhone, Apple Inc said intimate photos of…

Local

Tallest residential building planned for lower Manhattan

A residential tower planned for lower Manhattan will soar 1,356 feet in the air -- just 12 feet shy of 1 World Trade Center. When…

Local

Bronx man commits suicide by decapitation

A Bronx man committed suicide Monday morning in the Hunts Point area of the Bronx by decapitating himself. According to the NYPD, the 51-year-old man…

Local

Top cops enroll in Twitter course at John…

NYPD officers are reportedly getting a lesson on the best way to use 140 characters or less. The New York Post reported Tuesday top officers…

Arts

Pop culture and prostitutes: New Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit at…

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec documented the cult of celebrity and the rise of pop entertainment in his prints, posters and lithographs — now on display at MoMA.

Arts

PHOTO: Extreme artist Eskil Ronningsbakken balances unicycle on…

Extreme artist’ Eskil Ronningsbakken balances on the edge of a cliff face at 4,600 feet – on a unicycle. The Norwegian travels across the globe, balancing over vertiginous ravines, tall…

Music

Hear two previously unreleased Adele songs

Missing some Adele in your life? Two previously unreleased songs from the singer have appeared online.

Music

Lincoln Center just made 'Lord of the Rings'…

Middle Earth already has sweeping vistas, a hero's journey and technology-revolutionizing special effects. But next April, the Lincoln Center will add another dimension to Peter Jackson's…

NFL

10 storylines to watch for the Giants this…

The Giants rebounded from an embarrassing 0-6 start last season, but not well enough to make the playoffs.

NFL

Michael Vick set to be weekly guest with…

Mike Francesa may need to backtrack from his harsh commentary of Michael Vick now that the Jets backup quarterback will be a weekly guest on his show.

NFL

Jets expect to make playoffs after sitting on…

The same pundits who predicted the Jets would be woeful a season ago are now eying the playoffs for this revamped team.

NFL

Antonio Allen returns to practice after concussion

Antonio Allen was cleared to practice again following his concussion two weeks ago.

Parenting

In defense of making a mess during playtime

"Recipes for Play" authors Rachel Sumner and Ruth Mitchener think playtime should involve the five senses and making a mess is part of the fun.

Wellbeing

Jason Hope helps push anti-aging efforts forward

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article When it comes to age-related illness, the direction of modern medicine seems more reactive than proactive. In…

Wellbeing

Today's Doomsday preppers: a closer look at survivalist…

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. The term “Doomsday prepper” is often associated with the paranoid, anti-government stereotype of the 1990s. The truth…

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…