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Reuters Politics Summary

House votes to force Medicare drug negotiations

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives voted on Friday to require the government to negotiate directly with drug companies to obtain lower drug prices for seniors, ignoring a White House threat to veto the Democratic measure. The bill, the latest in the "first 100-hours" agenda that helped Democrats win control of Congress in last year's elections, would instruct the government to negotiate with drug companies to get lower prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the drug program through private plans.

Schwarzenegger takes center stage in U.S. health reform

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to extend health insurance to California's 6.5 million uninsured could help put universal health coverage back on the national agenda at a time of political change in Washington. Doubts have been voiced about whether the celebrity governor would be able to fully fund the ambitious, $12 billion proposal he put forward on Monday.

Six senators back mandatory greenhouse gas cuts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Six U.S. senators, including potential 2008 presidential contenders from both major parties, unveiled legislation on Friday that would force power plants and industry to curb heat-trapping greenhouse gases, seeking to cut emissions to one-third of 2000 levels by 2050. Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and possible 2008 presidential contender, introduced a new version of the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act, which he has pursued since 2003 with Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent.

Pentagon chief plans Afghan visit to boost Karzai

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Friday said he would visit Afghanistan in the next few days, seeking ways to boost President Hamid Karzai's government and stop resurgent Taliban militants. The Taliban re-emerged as a serious threat in Afghanistan last year, with its hardline Islamist militants fighting deadly battles with NATO-led forces in the south of the country.

Lawmaker wants GAO study on defense lending

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior U.S. lawmaker has asked congressional auditors to examine if recommendations in a 2006 Department of Defense predatory lending report are justified, according to a letter obtained by Reuters on Friday. Sen. Tim Johnson, the second-ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, sent a letter to the head of the Government Accountability Office, David Walker, asking him to investigate how the DoD prepared its report.

House Democrats aim at oil industry subsidies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday introduced a bill that would rescind billions of dollars worth of tax incentives extended to U.S. energy companies and put the money into a fund earmarked for renewable energy. Sponsors of the Creating Long-term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act, or CLEAN, said it will save U.S. taxpayers about $13 billion over an unspecified number of years, but industry groups said it could hinder U.S. oil companies' ability to find and develop new energy sources.

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