The White House on Tuesday defended U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald after he apologized for falsely saying he served in the U.S. special forces, but a top Republican said the scuffle could hurt trust in the department. McDonald said in a statement on Monday that he had met a homeless man in Los Angeles who said he served in the special forces. McDonald said he incorrectly responded that he had also served there, and he apologized for what he called a "misstatement." "We take him at his word," a White House spokesperson said on Tuesday, adding the Obama administration does not expect the flub to harm McDonald's work on veterans' issues. McDonald, who served with the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army and was chief executive of consumer goods company Procter & Gamble Co, was brought in after former Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned.
The largest U.S. refinery strike in 35 years could spread if talks over improved safety conditions do not resume soon, United Steelworkers union (USW) International President Leo Gerard said on Tuesday. Union members work at more than 200 oil terminals, pipelines, refineries and chemical plants in the U.S. The USW has said it is seeking to retain safety provisions from previous contracts and tighten fatigue standards for workers, as well as win back daily maintenance jobs now done by non-union contractors. "(The strike spreading) depends on what happens in the next round of negotiations and that those negotiations resume fairly quickly," Gerard in a telephone news conference from Atlanta. Shell Oil Co, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell Plc [RDSa.L], is the lead oil company negotiator.
By Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Conservative Republicans urged House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner not to capitulate in a fight with Democrats over President Barack Obama's immigration policy that threatens a partial Homeland Security shutdown later this week. The conservative lawmakers, led by Representative Jeff Duncan, circulated a letter to Boehner and other House leaders telling them to hold the line in opposing Obama's executive actions shielding millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, a Duncan aide said on Tuesday. The House last month attached provisions to block spending on Obama's immigration orders to a $39.7 billion bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security.