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Sun Jun 2, 2013, 11:21 PM


In Congress, Legislation and Scandals Vie for Attention

WASHINGTON ó Lawmakers will return to the Capitol on Monday from a weeklong recess, facing a critical juncture on immigration legislation and controversies at the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department that will test Congressís ability to balance its twin responsibilities of legislating and investigating.

For President Obama, how those competing priorities balance out could mean the difference between securing a landmark accomplishment ó the first overhaul of the nationís immigration laws since 1986 ó or becoming consumed by charges of scandal.

Invigorated by the uproars, House Republicans are setting their sights more firmly this week on the I.R.S. and Mr. Obamaís embattled attorney general. After weeks of trying to leaven the Houseís growing investigatory zeal with serious legislating, House leaders and committee chairmen appear to be giving themselves over to an expanding and aggressive oversight effort ó on the I.R.S., the Justice Departmentís targeting of reporters, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.ís statements to Congress on that targeting and the Sept. 11 attack on the United States Mission in Benghazi, Libya.

House leaders including Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio have acknowledged the risk if voters see the investigations as driven primarily by politics. But with the legislative season moving toward the routine task of passing spending bills, oversight appears to be the biggest splash that the House hopes to make.



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