National briefs: House cuts IRS funding

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WASHINGTON — The House has voted to cut the Internal Revenue Service’s budget by $1.14 billion in another blow to the tax agency.

The action came late Monday in a pair of votes on amendments offered by Republicans Paul Gosar of Arizona and Bill Huizenga of Michigan. Both proposals were passed by voice vote as part of a broader spending bill. A voice vote means that lawmakers aren’t on the record supporting or opposing the cuts.

The changes would leave the IRS with a budget of $9.8 billion for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, 13 percent below this year’s funding level and 21 percent below the administration’s request.

Health savings seen

WASHINGTON — The fastest-growing part of the federal budget — spending on health care programs — has slowed sharply in recent years. And while no one knows quite why that's happening, the Congressional Budget Office is predicting substantial savings.

For the 10-year period beginning in 2010, the estimated cost of Medicare and Medicaid — the government health programs for the elderly and the poor — has dropped by $1.23 trillion, according to revised CBO projections. In its latest look at the nation's long-term finances, released Tuesday, CBO predicts that the savings will grow by 2039 to 1.5 percent of the economy — or, in today's dollars, roughly $250 billion a year.

Ex-AGs tied to bribery

SALT LAKE CITY — Two former Utah attorneys general were arrested Tuesday on charges that both men had taken bribes from businessmen and obstructed justice in an influence-peddling scheme run out of one of the state’s highest offices.

Mark Leonard Shurtleff, 56 — who was a three-term Utah attorney general from 2000 to 2012 — was charged with 10 felonies, according to court documents.

His deputy and successor, John Edward Swallow, 51, faces 11 felony and two misdemeanor charges.

Net neutrality deadline

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission extended Tuesday’s deadline for public comments on its proposed net neutrality rules until Friday after a last-minute surge in submissions overwhelmed the agency’s website.

The FCC had received about 677,000 comments as of Monday, with about 207,000 coming through its electronic comment system, said spokeswoman Kim Hart.

Oil output seen surging

BISMARK, N.D. — North Dakota, the second-largest oil-producing state, expects output to surge through the summer as more benign weather gives roughnecks extra time to work in the field.

Output rose about 3.6 percent to 1.04 million barrels a day in May, the state’s Department of Mineral Resources reported Monday. It was the largest increase since August.

Also in the nation ...

Prominent immigration activist and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who has lived and worked in the U.S. illegally for years, was released by U.S. Border Patrol agents on Tuesday after they detained him at a South Texas airport. ... A Texas judge upheld a $3 million jury verdict by ruling in favor of a family who claimed that oil and gas drilling near their land made them sick, in a landmark case hailed as a victory by anti-fracking activists. ... Insufficient route planning, a distracted pilot driver and an inadequate permitting process by the state of Washington all played a part in last year’s Interstate 5 bridge collapse north of Seattle, which sent two cars into a river below, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.

— Compiled from news services


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