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GOP gears up for fight on health care mandate

Senator Tom Harkin  questioned whether the president could delay the employer requirement.

Mark Wilson /Getty Images

Senator Tom Harkin questioned whether the president could delay the employer requirement.

WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders on Tuesday seized on the Obama administration’s one-year delay of a requirement that employers offer health insurance or face penalties, demanding the same postponement for the mandate on individual insurance purchases and promising a series of showdowns aimed at dividing Democrats from the White House.

After more than two years of voting repeatedly and unsuccessfully to repeal the health care law, Republicans believe they are getting traction thanks to what they see as the administration’s self-inflicted wound over the employer mandate.

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House leaders began devising strategies that would most likely start this month with multiple votes, the first to codify the one-year delay on the employer mandate, then another to demand a delay on the individual mandate.

“Is it fair for the president of the United States to give American businesses an exemption from his health care law’s mandates, without giving the same exemption to the rest of America? Hell no, it’s not fair,” Speaker John A. Boehner told a closed-door gathering of House Republicans on Tuesday, said those present.

Some Democrats were also dismayed by the White House’s actions. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, questioned whether Obama had the authority to unilaterally delay the employer mandate.

Representative Sander M. Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said such criticism was absurd. The Republican position on many issues is to “hug big business while leaving the American people out in the cold,” he said.

NEW YORK TIMES

Pentagon to reassess how it locates missing soldiers

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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Tuesday that it will take a ‘‘second look’’ at how it goes about accounting for missing Americans on foreign battlefields, following the disclosure of an internal assessment that the work is ‘‘acutely dysfunctional’’ and at risk of failure.

The United States estimates there are more than 83,000 Americans missing from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

Over the past three years, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command has reported an average of 69 identifications of recovered remains per year, down from 85 per year over the previous three years.

The Associated Press reported on Sunday that a 2012 internal assessment of the command’s field operations — including the search for and recovery and identification of remains — found it suffers from ineptitude, waste, and mismanagement.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Democrats insist measure include path to citizenship

WASHINGTON — Setting up a potential clash with the Republicans who control the House, congressional Democrats insisted Tuesday that they will not agree to any immigration bill that lacks a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States.

The stance met quick resistance from House Republicans who are expected to meet Wednesday on how to move forward with the immigration issue. Many conservatives who control the House oppose giving citizenship to people who crossed the border illegally or overstayed their visas.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

IRS cites spending cuts in canceling bonuses

WASHINGTON — Citing budget cuts, the Internal Revenue Service is canceling this year’s bonuses for managers and is working to cancel bonuses for union workers, the agency said Tuesday. Acting IRS head Danny Werfel told workers in an e-mail that he is canceling the bonuses because of automatic spending cuts enacted this year.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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