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Nancy Pelosi agrees to remain as minority leader

WASHINGTON — US Representative Nancy Pelosi of California has decided to serve as House Democratic leader for two more years, she said Wednesday.

Her decision puts her at the fulcrum of the impending debate over fiscal issues.

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Pelosi, 72, had been privately weighing whether she wanted to continue in the role given the likelihood that regaining the majority will be difficult in the midterm elections.

Her departure would have opened the door to Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the number two Democrat, to replace her, but he will have to continue to bide his time.

Surrounded by most of the 61 female members of the House — both the newly elected and established — Pelosi took a slow windup, extolling the virtues of women in office, before explaining her decision.

“I have made the decision, that some of you may have some interest in, in order to continue work in empowering women, to making sure that our Affordable Care Act is enforced in a way to make sure that being a woman is no longer a preexisting condition,’’ she said. ‘‘I have made a decision to submit my name to my colleagues to once again serve as Democratic House leader.’’

As her staff tried repeatedly to prevent reporters from asking more than a few questions, an animated Pelosi seemed to enjoy her moment, saying she would use the next two years to help elect more women and to fight the role of money in politics.

In January 2007, Pelosi became the first female speaker of the House. She ceded that post to John A. Boehner of Ohio with the Republican victories in the 2010 midterm elections.

Despite the steep losses that cost her party control of the House, Pelosi was elected minority leader two weeks later.

In the Senate, the leadership slate remains largely the same. Senator Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, will remain the Republican leader, and his number two will be Senator John Cornyn of Texas.

Senator John Thune of South Dakota will remain conference chairman, Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming is policy chairman, and Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri will serve as conference vice chairman.

Democrats voted to retain Senator Harry Reid of Nevada as majority leader and Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois as their whip, with Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York as the number three. Senator Patty Murray of Washington will remain the caucus secretary, and Senator Deborah Stabenow of Michigan will be in charge of the steering and outreach committee.

New York Times

Frank, Paul ask US to respect Colo., Wash. marijuana laws

WASHINGTON — US Representatives Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Ron Paul, a Texas Republican, polar opposites on many issues, joined Wednesday in asking the White House to refrain from acting against marijuana users in Colorado and Washington, which became the first states last week to legalize recreational use of the drug.

In a letter to President Obama, the duo asked the White House to “respect the wishes of the voters of Colorado and Washington and refrain from federal prosecution of the inhabitants of those states who will be following their states’ laws with regard to the use of marijuana.”

Paul, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for president, is widely considered a leading libertarian in Congress, while Frank is an unabashed liberal. Citing “individual freedom,” both are coauthors of legislation that would legalize marijuana across the nation.

“We believe there are many strong reasons for your administration to allow the states of Colorado and Washington to set the policies they believe appropriate in this regard, without the federal government overriding the choices made by the voters of these states,” the letter said, noting a state’s right to set policies that affect their own residents and the potential cost for enforcing federal laws prohibiting the recreational use of marijuana. Other states permit medicinal use of marijuana. Last week, Massachusetts became the latest state to do so.

But Colorado and Washington broke new ground in the movement to decriminalize use of the drug, when voters in those two states legalized the possession and growing of the substance.

Bobby Caina Calvan

Interior chief Salazar offers apology for punching threat

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is apologizing for threatening to punch a Colorado reporter who asked him about problems with the government’s wild horse program at a campaign event.

Salazar on Wednesday called Dave Philipps, a reporter with The Gazette of Colorado Springs, to apologize and offer him an interview. The apology came a day after the newspaper posted an audio of Salazar’s Election Day comments.

In the audio, Salazar is heard accusing Philipps of setting him up by asking about a Colorado horse slaughter proponent who has bought hundreds of wild horses.

Salazar tells the reporter: ‘‘If you do that to me again, I’ll punch you out.’’

Salazar at first simply said Wednesday that he regretted the exchange. But the newspaper called on him to apologize.

Associated Press

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