GOP blocks Senate bill curbing gender pay gap
WASHINGTON - Republicans blocked a Senate bill Wednesday aimed at narrowing the pay gap between men and women, an election-year ritual that Democrats hope will help spur women to back them in this fall's congressional elections.
GOP lawmakers said the measure could hinder employers from granting raises, or permitting flexible hours in exchange for lower pay, for fear of costly lawsuits. For Democrats, the bill was the latest stressing income-fairness they are pushing this campaign season, a procession that includes proposals to extend jobless benefits, boost the minimum wage and help students and families afford college loans.
Republicans, whose campaign focus has been on an economy that is still recovering from a severe recession, said it was the Democratic bill itself that would wreak damage. They were backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups.
Senators urge enforcement on steel import rules
WASHINGTON - A group of senators seeking to protect jobs is calling on President Barack Obama's administration to fully enforce trade laws in deciding whether imported steel reinforcing bar from Turkey and Mexico unfairly undercuts U.S. prices.
In a letter sent Wednesday, the senators urged the Department of Commerce to consider the impact of cheaper imports on U.S. steel companies when it issues preliminary rulings later this month. Companies in Mexico and Turkey could be subject to duties on the steel reinforcing bar, which is known as steel rebar and is used to reinforce concrete, if found in violation.
The letter was signed by 31 senators - 16 Republicans and 15 Democrats - including both senators from Ohio.
Gov't says report on power grid threats mishandled
WASHINGTON - Federal energy regulators improperly allowed widespread access to a sensitive document that outlined specific locations where the nation's electric grid is vulnerable to physical threats, a government investigator said Wednesday.
The document created by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should have been kept secret as a national security matter, Energy Department Inspector General Gregory Friedman said. Instead the information was provided in whole or in part to federal and industry officials in uncontrolled settings.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that a federal analysis indicated that a coordinated terrorist strike on just nine key electric transmission substations could cause cascading power outages across the country in each of the nation's three synchronized power networks.
BofA paying $772M over selling credit card extras
WASHINGTON - Bank of America Corp. is paying $772 million in fines and refunds to settle regulators' accusations that it misled customers who bought extra credit-card products and illegally charged others for credit monitoring and reporting services they didn't receive.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced the agreement Wednesday with the second-largest U.S. bank.
It is the largest settlement over credit card "add-ons" won by federal regulators, who have been examining the marketing of the products by the financial industry for several years. It also marked the biggest refund amount ordered to date by the CFPB, a consumer watchdog agency created by Congress in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The agency has operated since mid-2011.
Treasury raises $2.38B in Ally Financial stock sale
WASHINGTON - The Treasury Department has raised $2.38 billion after selling a large chunk of its stock in Ally Financial Inc. as part of the government's ongoing effort to recoup the billions of dollars spent bailing out companies during the 2008 financial crisis.
Treasury said Wednesday that it got $25 each for the 95 million shares it sold in an initial public offering. The pricing of the IPO came at the low end of the forecast range of $25 to $28 per share.
The sale brought the amount it has recouped from the bailout of Ally to $17.7 billion, slightly more than the $17.2 billion the government had put up.
Local bank stock prices hold steady Wednesday
First Niles Financial held steady in trading Wednesday to close at $7.03 per share. Cortland Bancorp also remained the same, closing at $10.80 a share.
Staff, wire reports