National briefs: Immigration bill stalled in House

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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Tuesday conceded that an immigration overhaul cannot be achieved by his August deadline. With House Republicans searching for a way forward on the issue, the president said he was hopeful a bill could be finalized this fall.

The president said the lack of consensus among House Republicans will stretch the immigration debate past August, his original deadline for a long-elusive overhaul of the nation's fractured laws.

On Tuesday, most members of the so-called Gang of Eight met in the Capitol with a large group of advocates from business, religious, agriculture and other organizations to urge everyone to work together to move the issue through the House.

The senators distributed a list of 121 House Republicans seen as persuadable in favor of the bill and discussed honing a message for Congress' monthlong August recess, when House members will meet with constituents and potentially encounter opposition to immigration legislation.

Utilities brace for blackouts

NEW YORK -- Consolidated Edison Inc. put crews on 12-hour shifts and loaded trucks with spare transformers as the New York utility owner braced for power failures from a heat wave forecast through Friday.

Con Edison and other electric utilities in southern New York, New Jersey and Connecticut reported about 2,000 customers without electricity Tuesday, some caused by equipment that caught fire from a combination of heat and high air conditioning demand.

More lines will fail, Chris Olert, a spokesman for Con Edison, said. The utility is suspending routine maintenance to focus crews on responding as quickly as possible to power failures as they occur, he said.

Gas price high amid oil boom

WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers grilled representatives of oil producers and refiners about the rise in gasoline prices amid a boom in U.S. oil production.

Senators at an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing Tuesday complained that fuel exports and refinery shutdowns for maintenance cause regional price surges, while the head of refiner Valero Energy Corp. said local prices reflect global shifts in crude markets and blamed higher costs on the Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates ethanol use.

"There is no question that the lower oil costs are not getting through to Americans' wallets," said Ron Wyden, D-Ore., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Crash survivors sue Boeing

LOS ANGELES -- Eighty-three of the passengers who were on Asiana Airlines Flight 214 that crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport took steps Tuesday to sue the aircraft's manufacturer, Boeing.

A petition beginning a lawsuit has been filed in Chicago, where Boeing is headquartered, according to a news release from the firm, Chicago-based Ribbeck Law Chartered. Papers will be filed in the coming days against Asiana Airlines and component part manufacturers, attorneys said.

The firm said information released so far on the investigation appeared to show "mechanical malfunction of the auto-throttle" may have caused the crash of the Boeing 777, which killed three passengers and injured more than 180.

Chemical policy questioned

WASHINGTON -- Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer urged regulators and states to do more to curb threats caused by poor storage of ammonium nitrate in the wake of April's deadly explosion in Texas.

Ms. Boxer, D-Calif., said Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration failed to do enough to prevent further risks to the public. The blast at the fertilizer plant left a crater 93 feet wide by 10 feet deep.

Also in the nation ...

Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, will run against Wyoming's senior U.S. senator in next year's Republican primary, her campaign said Tuesday. ... A red panda's escape and wanderings has prompted a new plan to inspect trees, bushes and other vegetation around every exhibit at the National Zoo. The zoo has been observing Rusty ever since he was found in a nearby Washington neighborhood. ... A jury of nine colonels, three lieutenant colonels and one major will decide the fate of Maj. Nidal Hasan, accused in the Fort Hood mass shooting nearly four years ago. Jury selection ended Tuesday. Opening statements are scheduled for Aug. 6 in the court-martial, which could last several months.



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