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AP Top Political News At 8:28 p.m. EST

Obama calls for spending surge, buoyed by rising economy
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Declaring an end to "mindless austerity," President Barack Obama called for a surge in government spending Thursday, and asked Congress to throw out the sweeping budget cuts both parties agreed to four years ago when deficits were spiraling out of control....

House Dems seek better messaging, not new policies, for 2016
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Better messaging, not changes in policy, is the key to winning elections again, House Democrats said Thursday as they huddled in Philadelphia to talk strategy. And the message, they said, must focus relentlessly on middle class paychecks....

Senate passes bill approving Keystone XL oil pipeline
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday approved a bipartisan bill to construct the Keystone XL oil pipeline, defying a presidential veto threat and setting up the first of many battles with the White House over energy and the environment....

Obama to Democrats: Time to end budget austerity
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- President Barack Obama is calling for an end to the automatic spending cuts that have reduced money for domestic and defense programs. He says the cuts triggered by a 2011 budget act don't "differentiate between smart government spending and dumb government spending."...

Obama budget to call for $1 billion for Central America
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Vice President Joe Biden says President Barack Obama's budget will call for $1 billion in aid for Central America. He says that's three times what the U.S. typically gives the region....

Senator: Taliban detainees have communicated with Haqqani
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday that the Taliban detainees released from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl have been in touch with members of the al-Qaida linked Haqqani network, yet all five still are being monitored in Qatar....

Texas GOP chief leaves role, joins Rand Paul political team
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. Rand Paul on Thursday picked up the backing of the Republican Party of Texas' chairman, who is stepping down from his role to take a position as a national senior adviser to the Kentucky Republican's presidential campaign-in-waiting...

McCain to protesters: 'Get out of here, you low-life scum'
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain kicked protesters out of a committee hearing Thursday, calling them "low-life scum" as they hollered for the arrest of one of the witnesses, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger....

Administration to seek $1 billion for tribal schools
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration says it will ask Congress for $1 billion next year to run schools for Native American children - including millions in new money to help fix crumbling buildings....

As Romney weighs '16 bid, his past donors commit to Jeb Bush
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Closing in on a decision about whether to again run for president, Mitt Romney is finding that several past major fundraisers and donors in key states have defected to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush....

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Up to the Minute
Senate passes bill approving Keystone XL oil pipeline

Obama budget to call for $1 billion for Central America

Obama calls for spending surge, buoyed by rising economy

Poll shows giant gap between what public, scientists think

McCain to protesters: 'Get out of here, you low-life scum'

Administration to seek $1 billion for tribal schools

Senator: Taliban detainees have communicated with Haqqani

Texas GOP chief leaves role, joins Rand Paul political team

Dems threaten to block action on Homeland-immigration bill

Republicans: House to begin work on health care alternative