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

Judge holds Amber Hellesten for trial on murder…

Amber Hellesten turns 16 next Wednesday, April 30. It could be her first of many birthdays behind bars.

National

University of New Mexico running back arrested for…

By Joseph J. KolbALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (Reuters) - A University of New Mexico football player has been arrested on suspicion of raping and kidnapping a…

National

Teen who stowed away on flight to Hawaii…

By Alex Dobuzinskis(Reuters) - A teenage boy who stowed away on a flight from California to Hawaii in the frozen, oxygen-deprived wheel well of a…

Money

Investing is easier than you think

Easy investing: Everything you need to know about investing, you already do.

Television

John Turturro tags in for Robert De Niro…

The cast of the courtroom drama miniseries has undergone yet another shift. Following Robert De Niro's exit, the cable network has brought in John Turturro…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 22: 'Glee,' 'Agents…

'Glee' Rachel makes her Broadway debut in "Funny Girl." Remember when she was just a high school drama nerd? FOX, 8PM 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'…

The Word

Lindsay Lohan's big, drunk interview

Lindsay Lohan appears to be completely off the wagon now, if Kode magazine's chronicle of her trip to Coachella is any indication. According to the…

The Word

What we learned from the premiere of 'True…

Does watching someone's marriage implode make for great TV? The show runners at "True Tori" think Tori Spelling's heartbreak is hot stuff indeed.

NHL

Lundqvist, Rangers take control as Flyers falter in…

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist turned away 31 Flyers shots to give the Blueshirts the series edge with a 4-1 victory Tuesday nigh

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers,…

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees surge. The A's, Braves, Rangers, Giants and Rockies are also in the top 10.

MLB

Metro one-on-one: Q&A with Phillies centerfielder Ben Revere

Charlie Manuel used to say that the Phillies go as Jimmy Rollins goes. Well, Ryne Sandberg might have a new Phillies catalyst, Ben Revere, in his midst.

NBA

Breaking down the Sixers top draft options

With the NBA Playoffs now in full force, there’s only one thing on the mind of Sixers fans at the moment -- the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery.

Wellbeing

How to burn off all that Easter candy

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but you can't eat chocolate eggs and Jelly Bellys forever.

Food

Powdered alcohol: 5 things to know about 'Palcohol'

What's the deal with powdered alcohol? Here's what you need to know about Palcohol.

Travel

Travel hacks: 6 tips on living out of…

Lynne Martin shares her travel hacks on living out of just two suitcases.

Wellbeing

Tough Mudder pro gives tips on conquering a…

Learn hacks from head designer Nolan Kombol.