How Obama would spend your money in 2016, agency by agency

AP News
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Posted: Feb 03, 2015 3:32 AM
How Obama would spend your money in 2016, agency by agency

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sure, $4 trillion sounds like a lot.

But it goes fast when your budget stretches from aging highways to medical care to space travel and more.

Here's an agency-by-agency look at how President Barack Obama would spend Americans' money in the 2016 budget year beginning Oct. 1:

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AGRICULTURE

Up or down? Up 3 percent

What's new? A new food safety agency.

Highlights:

—The budget proposes consolidating the Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service with the Food and Drug Administration's food safety oversight in a new agency under the Health and Human Services Department. If Congress goes along with the proposal, USDA would lose one of its main functions.

— As in years past, the administration is proposing to cut money for farmers' crop insurance to pay for other agriculture programs. This year's budget proposes about a $1.6 billion annual cut in the program, which subsidizes both the companies that sell crop insurance and farmer premiums. The program was estimated to cost more than $9 billion last year, and the Obama administration says in its budget that "overly generous benefits have almost eliminated the risk in farming at a cost to taxpayers in the billions." The budget says the cuts are intended to slim the program while keeping a safety net for farmers. There will be little appetite for that reform in Congress, however, where funding for crop insurance has been a priority. The five-year farm bill Obama signed into law last year increases spending for crop insurance.

— The bulk of the USDA budget is nutrition programs. Food stamps alone are estimated to cost $83.7 billion for the 2016 budget year. Though fewer people are expected to apply for food stamps in the coming years, food prices are expected to keep the cost higher.

The numbers:

Total spending: $156 billion, including spending on farm subsidies and nutrition programs already required by law.

Spending that needs Congress' annual approval: $24.4 billion

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COMMERCE

Up or down? Down 12.8 percent

What's new? A fund for new technology companies.

Highlights:

—Obama's Commerce Department budget proposes a new Scale-Up Fund, designed to help new startup companies develop technologies that can be manufactured in the U.S.

—Obama would expand a network of manufacturing institutes around the country from nine to 45. The institutes are designed to coordinate the federal government's work with local companies and schools to develop technologies that the U.S. can produce.

—Spending for the Census Bureau ramps up slightly as the agency prepares for its once-every-decade count of America's population.

The numbers:

Total spending: $12.4 billion. While programs approved annually by Congress would grow by 11 percent, other Commerce spending shows a decline, including funds that get money from the Federal Communications Commission's sales of space on the electronic spectrum.

Spending that needs Congress' annual approval: $9.8 billion

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DEFENSE

Up or down? Up 4.4 percent

What's new? The highest base budget in history, and the lowest spending on war costs since 2002.

Highlights:

—Military leaders say they are still reeling from the sharp budget cuts and flat spending of the last several years, which curtailed training, and maintenance and forced deep cuts in the size of the Army.

—The proposed budget calls for investment in a broad range of weapons systems, aircraft and ships, along with increased spending on cybersecurity, and other advanced technologies, such as high-energy lasers. The plans include $10.6 billion for 57 Joint Strike Fighters, $11.6 billion for nine new ships; $1.4 billion for submarine development, $1.2 billion for a new long-range bomber and $3.4 billion for 16 P-8 Poseidons, which conduct anti-submarine warfare.

—The administration is proposing a $53.9 billion budget for the intelligence agencies, including war-related funding. As a matter of policy the Director of National Intelligence provides no breakdown of its budget requests, saying that to do so would harm national security.

—Warning of a maturing long-range missile threat from North Korea and the potential threat from Iran, the Pentagon is asking for $9.6 billion for missile defense.

—The budget includes a 1.3 percent raise for service members and department civilians, but seeks changes in health care costs, including requiring retirees who are 65 or older to pay a small annual health care fee.

—The war funding would pay for continued counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and efforts to advise Afghan forces. It also would fund counter-insurgency operations in Iraq, Syria and other hot spots around the globe.

—Despite persistent opposition from Congress, the Pentagon is seeking another round of military base closings in 2017 and is asking to retire the A-10 Warthog attack aircraft.

The numbers:

Total spending: $585 billion. The request calls for a base budget of $534 billion, an increase of 7.7 percent over this year. The war funding request of nearly $51 billion is a 21 percent decrease.

Spending that needs Congress' annual approval: $585 billion

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EDUCATION

Up or down? Down 24.3 percent

What's new? A proposal for free community college.

Highlights:

—Obama wants to make two years of community college free and as easy to access as high school. To do so, he would give grants to states that agree to make tuition free to students who meet certain conditions, if those states contribute to the effort and seek to improve the quality of their community colleges. The budget seeks $1.4 billion for the effort. Overall, the program is estimated to cost $60 billion over 10 years. The proposal has received a cold reception from many Republicans on Capitol Hill, however.

—Obama has long emphasized expanding and improving early education programs. One effort is to use a tobacco tax increase to make preschool available to all low-and moderate-income 4-year-olds at a cost of $1.3 billion next year, or $75 billion over 10 years. The budget also seeks $750 million for preschool development grants to states to expand access and improve quality of early education programs, meant to lay the groundwork for universal pre-K. Such a grant program is already assisting 18 states with the effort, but the budget seeks $500 million more.

— Obama also seeks $1.5 billion in new spending by the Health and Human Services Department for Head Start programs — money that would help make Head Start available for a full day and all year for some children and expand services for expecting parents and very young children. Congressional Republicans, however, have pushed to improve existing federally funded early childhood programs before dramatically expanding them.

— The budget would provide a $1 billion increase in Title 1 funding, meant to close inequities in education.

The numbers:

Total spending: $73.8 billion. That's down from last year because the mandatory spending portion dropped from $30.3 billion to $3 billion, reflecting, in part, changes to loan interest rates.

Spending that needs Congress' annual approval: $70.8 billion, an increase of more than 5 percent

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ENERGY

Up or down? Up 13.8 percent

What's new? Calls for reforming nuclear waste disposal by establishing an interim disposal site.

Highlights:

— Obama proposes a new approach to deal with the nation's nuclear waste storage at power plants by starting what would be a decade-long, roughly $5.7 billion effort. The plan would establish an interim storage site for the waste now distributed at 72 commercial nuclear power plants across the country. Republicans are already gearing up to revive Yucca Mountain, a long-term storage site in former Majority Leader Harry Reid's home state of Nevada that was tabled by the administration. In 2010, the Energy Department withdrew its application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, prompting lawsuits and congressional inquiries that it was out of compliance with the law.

— Obama proposes across-the-board increases in the research and development of renewable energy sources, including solar, wind and geothermal energy, and advanced vehicle technologies such as electric cars and advanced batteries.

— Adds $38 million toward development of carbon capture and storage, a technology that will be essential to meeting the Obama administration's proposed requirements to cut carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants.

— Establishes a new program aimed at developing technologies to reduce and to monitor emissions of methane in natural gas production, a potent greenhouse gas.

— The Energy Information Administration, responding to the changing energy landscape, would increase the data it assembles, including monthly movements of crude oil transported by rail and monthly estimates of electricity generated by small-scale renewable energy sources, such as solar panels on homes and buildings.

The numbers:

Total spending: $29.2 billion

Spending that needs Congress' annual approval: $29.9 billion

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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

Up or down? Up 55.6 percent

What's new? A $4 billion fund for use by states that cut the pollution blamed for global warming from power plants deeper and faster than required.

Highlights:

— After cutting the Environmental Protection Agency's budget for years, Obama is proposing the largest increase to the agency's budget of his presidency, as he doubles down on plans to curb the pollution blamed for global warming. But look for Republicans, now in control of Congress, to whack the EPA budget.

— Obama's proposal includes $239 million for the EPA to address climate change, including the marquee rules due this summer to cut heat-trapping pollution from new and existing power plants. About $25 million is set aside for states to help them draft plans to meet the power plant rules. Numerous states have already sued the agency over its plans, and have complained that meeting the proposal will be complicated and burdensome.

— For the first time, the EPA budget establishes a $4 billion fund for use by states that cut pollution blamed for global warming at power plants deeper or faster than required. But that proposal would require Congress to find an offset to pay for it. That's unlikely with congressional Republicans aiming to dismantle the EPA's climate efforts.

— With several chemical, coal and oil spills tainting water supplies recently, Obama's budget also includes $50 million for the EPA to help assist states, tribes and private companies to upgrade drinking water and sewer systems. The budget also calls for $2.3 billion in low-interest loans and grants to communities to make improvements in drinking water and sewage treatment and infrastructure.

The numbers:

Total spending: $12.5 billion

Spending that needs Congress' annual approval: $8.6 billion, but that doesn't include the new $4 billion proposed.

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HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Up or down? Up 4.3 percent

What's new? Medicare could negotiate prices for cutting-edge drugs.

Highlights:

— The president's proposed health care budget asks Congress to authorize Medicare to negotiate what it pays for high-cost prescription drugs and for biologics, including advanced medications for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Currently, private insurers bargain on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries. Drug makers have beaten back prior proposals to give Medicare direct pricing power. But the introduction of a $1,000-a-pill hepatitis-C drug last year may have shifted the debate.

— Tobacco taxes would nearly double, to extend health insurance for low-income children. The federal cigarette tax would rise from just under $1.01 per pack to about $1.95 per pack. Taxes on other tobacco products also would go up. That would provide financing to pay for the Children's Health Insurance Program through 2019. The federal-state program serves about 8 million children, and funding technically expires Sept. 30. The tobacco tax hike would take effect in 2016.

— Starting in 2019, the proposal increases Medicare premiums for high-income beneficiaries and adds charges for new enrollees. The charges for new enrollees include a home health copayment, changes to the Part B deductible, and a premium surcharge for seniors who've also purchased a kind of supplemental insurance whose generous benefits are seen as encouraging overuse of Medicare services.

— There's full funding for ongoing implementation of Obama's health care law.

—The plan would end the budget sequester's 2 percent cut in Medicare payments to service providers and repeal another budget formula that otherwise will result in sharply lower payments for doctors. But what one hand gives, the other hand takes away. The budget also calls for Medicare cuts to hospitals, insurers, drug companies and other service providers.

The numbers:

Total spending: $1.1 trillion, including about $1 trillion on benefit programs including Medicare and Medicaid, already required by law.

Spending that needs Congress' annual approval: $80 billion.

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HOMELAND SECURITY

Up or down? Up 9.1 percent

What's new? An extra $8.2 million to improve White House security.

— The request for new spending for security improvements at the White House complex comes after a series of presidential security breaches, including a September incident in which a man armed with a small knife climbed over a White House fence and ran deep into the executive mansion before being subdued. Last month, a small drone piloted by a U.S. intelligence agency employee crashed on the White House lawn; the Secret Service said it did not appear the man meant for the drone to go there.

—Obama also seeks to spend up to $162 million more next year to help handle potential increases in the number of unaccompanied children caught crossing the border from Mexico illegally. Customs and Border Protection would get up to $134.5 million more, depending on how many children are caught crossing illegally. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which transports children caught crossing the border illegally, would get up to a $27.6 million increase.

—The proposed CBP budget also includes $373 million to buy and maintain technology and tactical infrastructure along the Southwest border. Improving border security remains a sticking point for Republican lawmakers amid the ongoing debate over changing the country's complicated immigration laws.

The numbers:

Total spending: $48 billion

Spending that needs Congress' annual approval: $47.9 billion.

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HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

Up or down? Up 10.3 percent

What's new? An unusually large jump in spending would restore about 67,000 vouchers used by the poor to pay for housing. HUD has been among the federal departments hardest hit by spending cuts in recent years.

Highlights:

— Seeks $500 million for a new program designed to help communities hit by hurricanes, flooding or other natural disasters to become more resilient to future disasters.

— Seeks to more than double spending to $248 million for "choice neighborhood grants," which communities can use to improve housing stock, transportation and other services for distressed neighborhoods with high rates of poverty.

— Seeks about $2.5 billion for a wide range of programs dedicated to helping the homeless. The proposed funding would continue what has been a steady increase in resources geared to getting the chronically homeless into permanent housing.

— Seeks a reduction in mortgage insurance premiums that would enable 250,000 new homebuyers over a three-year period.

The numbers:

Total spending: $48.35 billion, including $7.3 billion in spending already required by law.

Spending that needs Congress' annual approval: $41 billion.

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INTERIOR

Up or down? Up 21.9 percent

What's new? More than $1 billion to mark the centennial of the National Park Service

Highlights:

— The budget includes $859 million in new spending to mark the centennial of the National Park Service in 2016 by upgrading services and facilities at national parks throughout the country. It also proposes $150 million for "challenge grants" to leverage private donations to parks.

—The budget again floats new fees and other regulatory reforms to increase revenue from oil and gas production on federal lands and waters. Officials say the reforms would generate $5.6 billion over 10 years and expedite drilling on public lands and water, but the ideas are strongly opposed by industry and have made little headway in Congress.

— The budget would extend tax credits for wind and solar projects and target investment in areas such as Appalachia, where decades-long declines in coal production have created economic challenges for communities and families.

— In a move sure to irk coal-state lawmakers, Obama again calls for changing a fee system designed to clean up abandoned coal mines. The proposal has made little headway in Congress.

— The budget also seeks about $1 billion to operate and upgrade federally run schools for 48,000 Native American children on reservations, including tens of millions in new funding to repair dilapidated schools.

The numbers:

Total spending: $15 billion

Spending that needs Congress' annual approval: $13.1 billion

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JUSTICE

Up or down? Basically level

What's new? Money to help buy body-worn cameras for local, state and tribal law officers.

Highlights:

— The budget proposes $30 million to support a competitive program to fund the purchase of body cameras for police officers. It's part of an effort to promote community policing in the wake of concerns about racial bias in law enforcement. The budget also calls for expanded training and oversight for local law officers.

— The proposal also includes roughly $15 million for programs and research aimed at countering violent extremism, an initiative the Justice Department has tied to mounting concerns about the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to Iraq and Syria. The proposal would create a new grant program, encourage research and fund partnerships between law enforcement agencies, residents and community groups. Attorney General Eric Holder says the effort is necessary both to break up potential terror plots and to understand the root causes of radical ideologies.

—The budget calls for money to address a problematic backlog of immigration cases. It would provide roughly $480 million to the Executive Office of Immigration Review, with funds supporting the hiring of an additional 55 immigration judge teams and to expand legal representation for unaccompanied children.

— It would invest $146 million to improve re-entry and recidivism programs in the Bureau of Prisons, including increasing mental health staff and providing cognitive behavioral treatment.

— It would expand pre-trial diversion programs for non-violent offenders in keeping with Holder's "Smart on Crime" initiative. It also calls for research to study the effectiveness of the program, which called on prosecutors to rein in their use of mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders.

The numbers:

Total spending: $31.8 billion

Spending that needs Congress' annual approval: $28.7 billion in discretionary spending, or a $1.3 billion increase from the 2015 enacted level.

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LABOR

Up or down? Up 59.1 percent

What's new? Help for some states to launch paid-leave programs.

Highlights:

—Proposals include a $2 billion initiative to assist as many as five states that wish to launch paid-leave programs for workers, following the examples of California, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

—$207 million to make saving easier for millions of Americans currently without employer-based retirement plans.

— $592 million for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to foster compliance with safety and health regulations, inspect hazardous workplaces and strengthen protection of whistleblowers.

—$395 million for the Mine Safety and Health Administration to help protect workers in one of the nation's most dangerous industries.

The numbers:

Total spending: $79.8 billion

Spending that needs Congress' annual approval: $13.1 billion.

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NASA

Up or down? Up 2.9 percent

What's new? Not much. Just more money for planned missions.

Highlights:

—The exploration budget — which includes NASA's plans to grab either an asteroid or a chunk of an asteroid and haul it closer to Earth for exploration by astronauts — gets a slight bump in funding. But the details within the overall exploration proposal are key. The Obama plan would put more money into cutting-edge non-rocket space technology; give a 54 percent spending jump to money sent to private firms to develop ships to taxi astronauts to the International Space Station; and cut by nearly 12 percent spending to build the next government big rocket and capsule to carry astronauts. Congress in the past has cut the president's proposed spending on the private firms and technology and boosted the spending on the government big rocket and capsule.

—The president's 0.8 percent proposed increase in NASA science spending is his first proposed jump in that category in four years. It's also the first proposed jump in years in exploring other planets. It includes extra money for a 2020 unmanned Martian rover and continued funding for an eventual robotic mission to Jupiter's moon Europa. But the biggest extra science spending goes to study Earth.

— Obama's budget would cut aeronautics research 12 percent from current spending and slash NASA's educational spending by 25 percent. It also slightly trims the annual spending to build the over-budget multi-billion dollar James Webb Space Telescope, which will eventually replace the Hubble Space Telescope and is scheduled to launch in 2018.

The numbers:

Total spending: $18.5 billion

Spending that needs Congress' annual approval: $18.5 billion

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SEC and CFTC

Up or down? Both go up

What's new? More staff to administer post-crisis financial regulations.

Highlights:

— The Securities and Exchange Commission's budget would increase by 15 percent, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's budget would rise 29 percent.

— The large increases reflect attempts by the Obama administration to fund financial industry regulatory reforms put in place after the 2008 financial crisis. But it's far from certain the agencies will see all that money — similar increases requested in the past were only partially approved by Congress.

— Both agencies say they lack the staff to implement the full range of financial regulations mandated by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and both would devote much of their increased resources to adding personnel. The CFTC alone would add 169 employees.

—The CFTC, which is charged with policing the market for hundreds of trillions of dollars' worth of futures, derivatives and other complex financial products, would increase its information technology budget from $50 million to $79 million. Major banks far outstrip that, spending tens of billions of dollars each year on technology.

—Both the SEC and the CFTC are self-sustaining, with fines and civil penalties bringing in far more revenue for the government than the agencies spend. But only the SEC is currently allowed to pay for its budget by charging financial industry participants fees to cover the cost of oversight. The Obama Administration is asking Congress to extend that same ability to the CFTC as well.

Total spending: $1.7 billion for the SEC; $322 million for the CFTC.

Spending that needs Congress' annual approval: all of it.

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STATE

Up or down? It's complicated

What's new? Embassy security upgrades and more money to counter the Islamic State group

Highlights:

— What appears from Congressional Budget Office figures to be a 25.2 percent decrease in funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development is actually a modest increase. That's mostly because the CBO figures don't include a $7 billion request for Overseas Contingency Operations. Those operations include embassy security upgrades and programs in conflict zones.

— The budget asks Congress to set aside $117 million to counter "aggressive acts" by Russia in Ukraine and would allocated $51 million to blunt Russian pressure on Moldova and Georgia. It would provide Ukraine with $154.1 million in direct economic aid.

— It would dedicate $3.5 billion to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, respond to deteriorating conditions in Syria, and assist with humanitarian needs among refugee populations in the region.

— It allocates $1 billion for programs that will try to reduce illegal migration from Central America, particularly of children.

— As the U.S. continues to transform its role in Afghanistan, the budget seeks $1.5 billion for the fragile Afghan government and another $963 million to fund American operations in the country, including $124 million for security upgrades at the embassy in Kabul. Next door in Pakistan, the budget asks for $917 million worth of programs.

The numbers:

Total spending: $63.3 billion

Spending that needs Congress' annual approval: $53.3 billion, or about 6 percent more than last year.

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TRANSPORTATION

Up or down? Up 31 percent

What's new? A plan to tackle an estimated $2 trillion in deferred maintenance for the nation's aging infrastructure by boosting highway and transit spending to $478 billion over six years.

Highlights:

— The six-year highway and transit plan would get a one-time $238 billion infusion from the general treasury. Some of the money would be offset by taxing the profits of U.S. companies that haven't been paying taxes on income made overseas. That infusion comes on top of the $35 billion a year that normally comes from gasoline and diesel taxes and other transportation fees.

— The proposal also includes tax incentives to encourage private investment in infrastructure, and an infrastructure investment bank to help finance major transportation projects.

— The new infrastructure investment would be front-loaded. The budget proposes to spend the money over six years and pay for the programs over 10 years.

— The proposal also includes a new Interagency Infrastructure Permitting Improvement Center to coordinate efforts across nearly 20 federal agencies and bureaus to speed up the permitting process. For example, the Coast Guard, Corps of Engineers and Transportation Department are trying to synchronize their reviews of projects such as bridges that cross navigation channels.

— The proposal would triple spending, from $11 billion to $31 billion, for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's office that investigates whether cars and trucks should be recalled, and double the office's personnel.

The numbers:

Total spending: $94.5 billion, including more than $80 billion already required by law, mostly for highway and transit aid to states and improvement grants to airports.

Spending that needs Congress' annual approval: $14.3 billion.

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TREASURY

Up or down? Up 15.2 percent

What's new? Increased enforcement for the Internal Revenue Service.

Highlights:

—The biggest portion of the Treasury Department's discretionary spending goes to the IRS, which is seeking an 18.3 percent increase to $12.9 billion for 2016.

—The extra funding would allow the agency to add nearly 3,000 additional employees to help answer taxpayer questions on phone lines. The goal is to answer 80 percent of incoming calls, up from the currently projected 50 percent.

—The additional money also would allow the IRS to combat identity theft and refund fraud and step up audits. IRS officials say investment in increased enforcement pays for itself several times over.

The numbers:

Total spending: $577.1 billion, including interest paid on the national debt.

Spending that needs Congress' annual approval: $13.5 billion.

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VETERANS AFFAIRS

Up or down? Up 3.3 percent

What's new? Billions in new spending to improve veterans' medical care.

Highlights:

—The budget includes $60 billion to improve veterans' medical care, a 7.4 percent increase over current spending. The additional money was authorized by the 2014 Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, adopted by Congress and signed by the president in response to a scandal over long wait times at VA medical centers and false appointment records to cover up the delays. VA health care enrollment is projected to reach 9.4 million in 2016, up from 9.3 million this year.

— Continues a department-wide reorganization known as MyVA, an effort to refocus the agency around the needs of veterans.

— Includes $7 billion to expand and improve mental health services.

— Includes $85 million to hire new staff to reduce a backlog of disability compensations claims paid by the Veterans Benefits Administration

— Includes $1.4 billion for programs to reduce homelessness among veterans.

— About $622 million would go for medical research, including advances in prosthetic limbs to help those wounded in war.

The numbers:

Total spending: $165.4 billion, including $95.1 billion in mandatory spending for disability and pension benefits.

Spending that needs Congress' annual approval: $70.2 billion

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Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Alan Fram, Lolita Baldor, Kimberly Hefling, Dina Cappiello, Eric Tucker, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Alicia Caldwell, Kevin Freking, Matthew Daly, Tom Raum, Seth Borenstein, Jeff Horwitz, Matthew Lee, Martin Crutsinger, Joan Lowy and Connie Cass contributed to this report.