Nation briefs for February 18
More snow for Northeast as storm moves through
NEW YORK (Bloomberg News) — A winter storm passing through the Midwest might bring more snow to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic today, threatening to scrub flights and snarl travel in the regions.
A winter storm warning was in effect for Chicago until 9 p.m. local time Monday. The city was expecting a possible 4-8 inches of snow from a storm that already canceled more than 1,000 flights and left thousands in Illinois without power, AccuWeather.com and the National Weather Service said. New York could get 1-2 inches early today before the storm switches over to rain, with most of the accumulation during the morning rush hour.
“This isn’t going to be a huge blizzard but it’s going to come through and disrupt travel not only on the ground but in the air,” said Tom Kines, a meteorologist for AccuWeather in State College, Penn. “People are getting really sick and tired of the snow, and of shoveling and plowing.”
As of 3:18 p.m. EST Monday, 1,122 flights within, into or out of the U.S. were canceled, while 2,434 were delayed, data from Houston-based FlightAware showed. More than a quarter of flights out of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport were grounded, according to FlightAware.
Republicans focus on calming divided ranks
WASHINGTON (The Washington Post) — After a tumultuous week of party infighting and leadership stumbles, congressional Republicans are focused on calming their divided ranks in the months ahead, mostly by touting proposals that have wide backing within the GOP and shelving any big-ticket legislation for the rest of the year.
Comprehensive immigration reform, tax reform, tweaks to the federal health-care law — bipartisan deals on each are probably dead in the water for the rest of this Congress.
“We don’t have 218 votes in the House for the big issues, so what else are we going to do?” said Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., an ally of House Speaker John Boehner. “We can do a few things on immigration and work on our principles, but in terms of real legislating, we’re unable to get in a good negotiating position.”
Added Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster who works closely with party leaders: “It is an acknowledgment of where they stand, where nothing can happen in divided government so we may essentially have the status quo. Significant immigration reform and fundamental tax reform are probably not going to happen.”
GOP brass in both chambers shifted their focus to stability, looking to avoid intraparty drama, rally behind incumbents and build Republicans’ ground game ahead of November’s midterm elections, where they hope to be competitive in a slew of Senate races and keep the party’s 17-seat House majority.
In that vein, championing a handful bills on job growth, energy and regulatory policy — all targeted for swing voters but unlikely to win Democratic support — has become a priority, with party leaders planning to spend months seeking consensus among Republicans and avoiding talks on controversial fronts.
NC governor briefed on coal ash deal with Duke
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s top environmental official said he briefed Gov. Pat McCrory about a negotiated settlement with Duke Energy that would have fined the $50 billion corporation $99,000 to resolve violations for groundwater contamination leaching from two huge coal ash dumps.
State Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary John Skvarla told lawmakers at an oversight hearing Tuesday the Republican governor’s only directions were to protect the environment and do the right thing.
The state agency put its proposed deal with the nation’s largest electricity provider on hold following the massive Feb. 2 spill of coal ash into the Dan River.
McCrory worked for Duke for 28 years before running for governor in 2008 and has benefited from more than $1.1 million in campaign donations linked to the company.
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