With the election over, attention in Washington has turned to the nation's debt and deficit challenges — most immediately the looming fiscal cliff. That's the $600 billion worth of expiring tax breaks and automatic spending cuts set to start taking effect Jan. 1.
The president and Congress agreed to those automatic measures to force themselves to find a more palatable compromise to rein in deficits. On Wednesday, there was an attempt to jump-start that process.
Normally, the nor'easter bearing down on the Northeast on Wednesday wouldn't be a tremendous cause for concern. But the storm, delivering snow, sleet and wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour, is expected to hit parts of Long Island and New Jersey still reeling from Hurricane Sandy.
"U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder immediately sentenced Mark Basseley Youssef after he admitted to four of the eight alleged violations, including obtaining a fraudulent California driver's license.
The number of states where gay marriage is legal will grow by at least two. On Tuesday, Maine and Maryland became the first states to approve same sex marriage by popular referendum. It brings the number of states where such unions are allowed to eight. In the state of Washington, the vote on a similar measure is still too close to call. In Minnesota, voters turned down an amendment to the state constitution that would have banned gay marriage.
Now a pair of historic votes among last night's many ballots measures. Voters in Colorado and Washington State passed initiatives legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. But as the governor of Colorado said last night, don't break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly
NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports that the measures are in direct conflict with federal law.
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And Robert Siegel. The confetti has fallen in Chicago, where President Obama celebrated a decisive reelection win early this morning. Now comes the hard work of preparing for a second term. Before flying back to Washington this evening, Mr. Obama acknowledged some of the big issues ahead.
Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 5:33 pm
A very good general election for Democrats got even better on Wednesday when they retained U.S. Senate seats in Montana and North Dakota, both of which had looked ripe for Republicans throughout much of the campaign.
Victories by Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, in contests so close that concessions from the losing Republican candidates didn't occur until Wednesday, helped Senate Democrats reach 54 seats in the next Congress. That was a net increase of one seat from their current majority.