Dec 10th - 12:13 pm
CHARLOTTE—North Carolina congressmen Mel Watt could join President Barack Obama’s administration as the U.S. Senate is expected to confirm his nomination as the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
After months of delays, U.S. Senate leaders believe they have the votes necessary to successfully confirm watt to lead the FHFA.
President Obama first nominated Watt in May 2013 to lead the agency that oversees mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Republicans in Congress questioned Watt’s qualifications to run the agency. They have also voiced opposition to Watt’s calls for more government involvement in the mortgage industry and have refused to vote to confirm him.
A recent change to Senate filibuster rules makes it harder for members of Congress to stall votes on executive and judicial nominees, which all but clears the way for a vote to confirm Watt.
The 68 year-old Watt has represented North Carolina’s 12th Congressional District since 1993.
If the Senate votes to confirm Congressman Watt, his nomination could be effective almost immediately.
However, Watt won’t be at the Capitol if the vote happens as he is a part of the congressional delegation in South Africa to attend memorial services for Nelson Mandela.
Dec 10th - 11:48 am
Since NC Tracks launched July 1, it’s been filled with problems from late payments and software glitches.
The system is supposed to process and pay more than $12 billion a year in healthcare claims for healthcare providers across the state.
In a statement, DHHS says more than 80 percent of the defects the audit uncovered have been resolved and that NC Tracks has paid almost $4.5 billion to healthcare providers in the state. It also said that the number of defects is significantly less for a software system similar to NC Tracks.
But State Auditor Beth Wood recommends the agency come up with a time frame to fix the issues.
“They have this tool out there but they’re not tracking. They’re not using it to make sure that CSC the vendor is fixing this in a timely fashion,” Wood said.
The audit also highlighted a perception of bias within NC Tracks.
It uncovered a situation in which a state employee who worked closely with CSC quit and then immediately began working with the vendor.
Wood called it a conflict of interest and says the cooling off period needs to be looked at.
Read the full audit report here.
- Diana Bosch
Dec 10th - 11:22 am
On Capital Tonight: We talk with Rep. Richard Hudson about transportation safety, the farm bill and a deal on the budget. Plus, John Frank of the Raleigh News & Observer and Travis Fain of the Greensboro News & Record join the reporter roundtable. Watch the program here.
Dec 9th - 11:57 am
“It’s truly an honor to celebrate the new American Airlines. It hasn’t been an easy road, but you made it,” said NASDAQ senior managing director Chuck Tilch.
A last-ditch effort to block the merger over concerns that the mega-airline would mean higher fares for customers failed over the weekend after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
“Our goal here is to go and restore American A in its position as the greatest airline in the world,” said Parker.
The airline will fly about 6,700 flights a day to 336 destinations in 56 countries, employing more than 100,000 people.
Nearly 10 percent of the workforce is in North Carolina.
Parker said he wants the new American to be the best airline in the world.
“Our standard of measurement can not just be other US based carriers, we need to be the greatest in the world,” said Parker.
Shortly before ringing the opening bell on the NASDAQ exchange under the new call letters AAL, Parker reiterated the importance of the two airlines becoming one.
“I couldn’t be more excited about the promise of our combined airline and I look forward to working alongside the best team in the industry as we takeoff as the new American,” said Parker.
Read a company statement about the merger here.
Dec 9th - 11:10 am
On Capital Tonight: The Bow Tie Caucus convenes! Profs. Scott Huffmon and Michael Bitzer break down the 2014 U.S. Senate race, plus part 2 of our exclusive interview with Gov. Pat McCrory from Washington. Watch the program here.
Dec 6th - 2:09 pm
The government reports that solid job growth in November cut the U.S. unemployment rate to 7 percent, a five-year low. The Labor Department says employers added 203,000 jobs last month after adding 200,000 in October.
The economy has now added a four-month average of 204,000 jobs from August through November, up from 159,000 a month from April through July.
Many of the November job gains were in higher-paying industries. Manufacturers added 27,000 positions, the most since March 2012. Construction firms gained 17,000.
The strengthening job market is likely to fuel speculation that the Federal Reserve may start to scale back its bond purchases when it meets later this month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Dec 6th - 12:23 pm
In our exclusive interview this week, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory linked the state’s slowly improving unemployment rate to his decision to make North Carolina the first state to forfeit federal long-term unemployment benefits. The money is intended for those out of work longer than 26 weeks.
Said Gov. McCrory: “Us not extending [long-term] unemployment [benefits], we think, did have a major impact because some of the people who have been on unemployment for a long period of time actually then applied and accepted available jobs.”
But U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez sees it differently. He told me that out-of-work North Carolinians, who continue their job search while receiving unemployment benefits, are simply complying with the rules. Any uptick in hiring, Perez said, can be linked to the overall health of the economy.
His full quote follows:
I find that somewhat curious because they came to us asking for a waiver, or an exception. And the fact of the matter is the state legislature and the governor in North Carolina acted and ended up disqualifying the state of North Carolina — the people living there — from receiving long-term unemployment benefits.
And one of the conditions of receipt of long-term unemployment benefits is that you have to continue your job search. And people, in fact, do continue the job search when they are receiving long-term unemployment benefits. And what we see in other states and what we see in this program is that as the economy grows, more people get jobs. And the way the law is written, it’s a self-ending program.
So, this program, over the last 60 years, has been a critical safety net. Republican and Democratic presidents, Republican and Democratic Congresses have supported it, and we need to do that again now.
Dec 6th - 11:10 am
On Capital Tonight: Gov. Pat McCrory talks about the effect of military budget cuts and more in an exclusive interview in Washington, plus our Young Voters James Kotecki and Jenifer Daniels talk how to attract young adults to sign up for health insurance. Watch the program here.
Dec 5th - 5:31 pm
The unparalleled world leader, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and beloved president of South Africa died after battling a recurring lung infection.
He was known to his nation as Madiba, but known to the world as the man who broke the back of the racist policies of apartheid South Africa.
Nelson Mandela’s interest in education and politics started early in life. He studied hard and eventually became a lawyer.
But it wasn’t until the 1948 election victory of the Afrikaner dominated National Party supporting the segregationist policies of apartheid that the young lawyer Nelson Mandela found his voice.
From then on he became an active leader in the ANC, The African National Congress, devoted to ending apartheid and the discrimination that kept thousands of black South Africans living in ghettos without proper housing, healthcare or education.
The long struggle against apartheid in South Africa became bloody through much of the 1950s and early 60s, as Mandela and the ANC felt the only way to make progress was to use arms and force.
He was branded a terrorist, and after living on the run for months, Mandela was arrested in 1962 charged with sabotage and treason. And in June of 1964 he was sentenced to life in prison.
He was a model prisoner on remote Robben Island, but even while he was in jail, his power and influence grew.
The chant “Free Nelson Mandela” became the anthem of the struggling nation and pressure grew on the South African government to release him.
Finally, under intense pressure from the rest of the world, and after meeting with Mandela secretly in prison, South African President F.W. de Klerk reversed a long standing ban on the ANC and other anti-apartheid organizations.
In 1990, at age 70, Mandela was released from jail. The event was broadcast live all over the world.
After his long exile, Mandela worked tirelessly to achieve South Africa’s first multiracial elections.
His partnership with F.W. de Klerk in dismantling the oppression of Apartheid won both men the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, and in 1994, Mandela was elected president.
Nelson Mandela served as president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He became a beloved figure around the globe and traveled extensively, even making several trips to New York City.
But in his later years, after a series of health problems, he retired from public life.
Nelson Mandela will remain a towering figure, known as a peace maker, a true leader and a man whose dignity carried his nation out of the dark.
For more on Nelson Mandela’s life, click here to view Tim Boyum’s interview with James Joseph of Duke University, a former U.S. Ambassador to South Africa.
- Elizabeth Kaledin
Dec 5th - 2:15 pm
WASHINGTON—Congress is moving forward with its version of Kilah’s Law, a child protection legislation named for Kilah Davenport of Charlotte who was nearly beaten to death by her stepfather.
North Carolina now has its own version of Kilah’s Law on the books and a federal version could be next.
The legislation is named for Kilah Davenport, who was just three-years-old last year when her stepfather beat her so severely that doctors had to remove a part of her skull which left her brain damaged.
Congressman Robert Pittenger of North Carolina’s 9th District introduced the federal bill, formally called the Kilah Davenport Child Protection Act of 2013.
“This is a very important bill that will put in process the standards that need to be there on a federal level of what we did in North Carolina to make sure that we have sentencing guidelines that are appropriate for the type of egregious act that occurred with this sweet little Kilah Davenport,” said Pittenger.
On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee met to debate the legislation. It was unanimously approved. If passed by Congress, it would require states to punish child abusers who inflict serious injury with a minimum sentence of 10 years.
“We’re going to have the attorney generals of each state respond back in six months. They will give us a report of where their sentencing guideline is. If it’s as low as what North Carolina’s was, we want to know that. And then we’ll give them three years to be in compliance with that threshold,” said Pittenger.
An aide to Pittenger said the legislation is designed to draw attention to state child protection laws that are deficient and enable state legislatures to make changes on their own.
“Unfortunately it took this very tragic accident involving this sweet, little three-year-old girl for us to respond. But North Carolina took care of it. I’m proud of our state, and now we want to see that done on a federal level,” said Pittenger.
Congressman Pittenger said the full House could vote on the bill before Christmas.