No nuke agreement yet: Iran talks push past deadline

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Iran, Powers Push for Nuclear Deal as Deadline Approaches


LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) - With stubborn disputes unresolved, nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers pushed past a self-imposed deadline and into overtime Wednesday as negotiators renewed marathon efforts to hammer out the outline of an agreement.

Enough progress had been made to warrant the extension past Tuesday midnight, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, although there still were "several difficult issues" to bridge.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who had planned to leave the talks on Tuesday, was remaining. And an Iranian negotiator said his team could stay "as long as necessary" to clear the remaining hurdles.

The decision came after six days of efforts to reach a preliminary understanding by Tuesday midnight, drawing in foreign ministers from all seven nations at the table - Iran, the United States, Russia,
China, Britain, France and Germany.

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US Iran Nuclear Talks -- Congress -- John Kerry -- updated 5/22/2015
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No nuke agreement yet: Iran talks push past deadline
President Barack Obama speaks at Adas Israel Congregation, Friday May 22, 2015, during Jewish American Heritage Month. The president Barack Obama said he has a personal stake in making sure that a nuclear agreement with Iran delivers on its promise. Saying he will not accept a bad deal. He adds: "This deal will have my name on it." (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 14: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (2nd L) (R-TN) gavels the start of a Senate Foreign Relations Committee markup meeting on the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran April 14, 2015 in Washington, DC. A bipartisan compromise reached by Corker and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) would create a review period that is shorter than originally proposed for a final nuclear deal with Iran and creates compromise language on the removal of sanctions contingent on Iran ceasing support for terrorism. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 14: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (L) (R-TN) shakes hands with ranking member Sen. Ben Cardin (R) (D-MD) during a committee markup meeting on the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran April 14, 2015 in Washington, DC. A bipartisan compromise reached by Corker and Cardin would create a review period that is shorter than originally proposed for a final nuclear deal with Iran and creates compromise language on the removal of sanctions contingent on Iran ceasing support for terrorism. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 14: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (Rear), a Republican presidential candidate, passes Sen. Marco Rubio (bottom), a Republican presidential candidate, as senators make their opening remarks during a markup meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran April 14, 2015 in Washington, DC. A bipartisan compromise reached by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) would create a review period that is shorter than originally proposed for a final nuclear deal with Iran and creates compromise language on the removal of sanctions contingent on Iran ceasing support for terrorism. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
The Senate Foreign Relatipons Committee's ranking member Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., left, slaps Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. on the back as they speak to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, after the committee passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. Republican and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reached a compromise Tuesday on a bill that would give Congress a say on an emerging deal to curb Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., center, talks with John Barrasso, R-Wyo, left, as they arrive with the committee's ranking member Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., right, for a committee business meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, to debate and vote on the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 on. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., center, and the committee's ranking member Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., right, speak to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, after the committee passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. Republican and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reached a compromise Tuesday on a bill that would give Congress a say on an emerging deal to curb Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
A protestors listens as right Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., left, and the committee's ranking member Ben Cardin, D-Md., center, meet with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, following the committee's vote to approve a bill that would give Congress a say about the emerging deal aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Republican presidential candidate and Senate Foreign Relations Committee member, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting to debate and vote on the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. listens on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, during debate and vote on the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. Republican and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reached a compromise Tuesday on a bill that would give Congress a say on an emerging deal to curb Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, as he departs a briefing on Iran nuclear negotiation. Republican and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reached a compromise Tuesday on a bill that would give Congress a say on an emerging deal to curb Iran's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
US Secretary of State John Kerry gestures as he speaks to the press at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, or Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne, in Lausanne, Switzerland, Thursday, April 2, 2015, after Iran nuclear program talks finished with extended sessions. The United States, Iran and five other world powers on Thursday announced an understanding outlining limits on Iran's nuclear program so it cannot lead to atomic weapons, directing negotiators toward achieving a comprehensive agreement within three months. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz speaks to the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 6, 2015. President Barack Obama is casting the Iran talks as part of a broader foreign policy doctrine that sees American power as a safeguard that gives him the ability to take calculated risks. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a news briefing at the Saadabad palace in Tehran, Iran, Friday April 3, 2015. Rouhani on Friday pledged that his nation will abide by its commitments in the nuclear agreement reached the previous day in Switzerland. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 08: Acting U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf conducts a daily press briefing at the State Department April 8, 2015 in Washington, DC. Harf spoke on various topics including the Iran nuclear deal. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama makes a statement at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 2, 2015 after a deal was reached on Iran's nuclear program. Iran and world powers agreed on the framework of a potentially historic deal aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear drive after marathon talks in Switzerland. (Photo credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
From left Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond speaks to US Secretary of State John Kerry as European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarifat take their positions before making a statement , at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, or Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne, in Lausanne, Switzerland, Thursday, April 2, 2015, after Iran nuclear program talks finished with extended sessions. The United States, Iran and five other world powers on Thursday announced an understanding outlining limits on Iran's nuclear program so it cannot lead to atomic weapons, directing negotiators toward achieving a comprehensive agreement within three months. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif arrive to deliver a statement, at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, or Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne, in Lausanne, Switzerland, Thursday, April 2, 2015, after Iran nuclear program talks finished with extended sessions. The United States, Iran and five other world powers on Thursday announced an understanding outlining limits on Iran's nuclear program so it cannot lead to atomic weapons, directing negotiators toward achieving a comprehensive agreement within three months. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, right, waits to make a statement flanked by German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier, left and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, or Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne, in Lausanne, Switzerland, Thursday, April 2, 2015, after Iran nuclear program talks finished with extended sessions. The United States, Iran and five other world powers on Thursday announced an understanding outlining limits on Iran's nuclear program so it cannot lead to atomic weapons, directing negotiators toward achieving a comprehensive agreement within three months. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 02: A teleprompter shows the text for U.S. President Barack Obama's remarks on negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program on April 2, 2015 in Washington, DC. In exchange for Iran's agreement to curb their country's nuclear proliferation, the United States would lift some of the crippling sanctions imposed. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 2: U.S. President Barack Obama boards Air Force One after making a statement on Iran nuclear negotiations in the White House April 2, 2015 in Washington, DC. The so-called P5+1 nations reached an agreement for an Iranian nuclear program and a process to lift sanctions against Iran after talks in Switzerland. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (C) walks with bodyguard in the garden of the Beau-Rivage Palace hotel during a break in Iran nuclear talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 1, 2015. Rollercoaster talks aimed at stopping Iran getting a nuclear bomb went into extra time amid cautious signs that after seven days of tough negotiations a framework deal may be near.  (Photo credit: ABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) gestures while waiting for the opening of a plenary session with P5+1 ministers, European Union and Iranian minister on Iran nuclear talks at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland, on March 31, 2015. Foreign ministers from major powers kicked off early a final scheduled day of talks aimed at securing the outlines of a potentially historic nuclear deal with Iran by a midnight deadline. (Photo credit: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND - MARCH 31: P5+1 Ministers, European Union and Iranian officials wait for the opening of a plenary session on Iran nuclear talks at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel on March 31, 2015. (Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)
LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND - MARCH 31: German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier waits for the opening of a plenary session on Iran nuclear talks P5+1 Ministers, European Union and Iranian officials at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel on March 31, 2015. (Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)
US Secretary of State John Kerry, centre, sits at the negotiating table with U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, left and U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, during a meeting with Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif over Iran's nuclear program, in Lausanne, Switzerland, Thursday, March 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Brian Snyder, Pool)
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif walks into another negotiating meeting with United States Secretary of State John Kerry over Iran's nuclear program in Lausanne, Switzerland Wednesday March 18, 2015. American and Iranian negotiators raced to fill out a framework for rolling back Iran's nuclear program and punitive U.S. economic sanctions, hoping for enough progress to call in other world powers for the finishing touches on an agreement next week. (AP Photo/Brian Snyder, Pool)
In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian Supreme Leader, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers speech during a meeting with air force commanders and officers in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. Iran's top leader says no deal is better than a bad deal when it comes to negotiations with world powers over the country's disputed nuclear program. (AP Photo/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader)
WASHINGTON, USA - FEBRUARY 5: Senator Tom Cotton speaks during a news conference with members of the Senate Armed Services Committee about arming Ukraine in the fight against Russia in Washington, D.C. on February 5, 2015. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (3rd L) poses for photographers with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (2nd L), Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) (4th L), Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) (L) and Minority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin (DIL) (R) prior to a meeting at the U.S. Capitol March 3, 2015 in Washington, DC. At the risk of further straining the relationship between Israel and the Obama Administration, Netanyahu addressed a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress warning congressional members against what he considers an ill-advised nuclear deal with Iran. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 3: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before joint session of Congress, on March, 03, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
President Barack Obama speaks about Iran and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress, Tuesday, March 3, 2015, during a meeting with Defense Secretary Ash Carter in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. The president said Netanyahu didn't offer any "viable alternatives" to the nuclear negotiations with Iran during his speech to Congress. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (Far R) goes for a stroll with assistant and security on the shore of Lake Geneva upon his arrival on February 22, 2015 in Geneva. Kerry arrived in Geneva for renewed talks with his Iranian counterpart on Tehran's nuclear programme, after warning 'significant gaps' remain as a key deadline approaches. Kerry is set to sit down for two days of talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, whose country denies its nuclear programme has military objectives. (Photo credit: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) arrives at his hotel on February 22, 2015 in Geneva. Kerry arrived in Geneva for renewed talks with his Iranian counterpart on Tehran's nuclear programme, after warning 'significant gaps' remain as a key deadline approaches. Kerry is set to sit down for two days of talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, whose country denies its nuclear programme has military objectives. (Photo credit: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) walks back to his hotel after on February 23, 2015 in Geneva. Washington and Tehran's top diplomats sat down again on February 23 for talks on Iran's nuclear program as they struggled to narrow gaps ahead of a key deadline. (Photo credit: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (C) goes for a stroll with assistants and security along the shores of Lake Geneva upon his arrival on February 22, 2015 in Geneva. Kerry arrived in Geneva for renewed talks with his Iranian counterpart on Tehran's nuclear programme, after warning 'significant gaps' remain as a key deadline approaches. Kerry is set to sit down for two days of talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, whose country denies its nuclear programme has military objectives. (Photo credit: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 21: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a media briefing at the U.S. Embassy on February 21, 2015 in London, England. Earlier Kerry met with British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond and it's expected that the issue of the continuing conflict in the Ukraine will dominate talks between the two nations. (Photo by Neil Hall - Pool/Getty Images)
Is the U.S. being too soft on Iran when negotiating on sanctions and a potential nuclear deal? Strategic Policy Consulting's Alireza Jafarzadeh and WSJ's Simon Constable discuss.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif before a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. Zarif said on Wednesday that his meeting with Kerry was important to see if progress could be made in narrowing differences on his country's disputed nuclear program. (AP Photo/Rick Wilking, Pool)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses the media after the closed-door nuclear talks with Iran, in Vienna, Austria, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. Facing still significant differences between the U.S. and Iran, negotiators gave up on last-minute efforts to get a nuclear deal by the Monday deadline and extended their talks for another seven months. The move gives both sides breathing space to work out an agreement but may be badly received by domestic sceptics, since it extends more than a decade of diplomatic efforts to curb Iran's nuclear prowess. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, looks over the weapons carried by Swiss police posing for a picture with him as he departs Geneva Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. U.S. Secretary of State Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif met for six hours Wednesday, a day before negotiators from Iran, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany are to resume talks here. (AP Photo/Rick Wilking, Pool)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, waits with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif before a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. Zarif said on Wednesday that his meeting with Kerry was important to see if progress could be made in narrowing differences on his country's disputed nuclear program. (AP Photo/Rick Wilking, Pool)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses the media after the closed-door nuclear talks with Iran, in Vienna, Austria, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. Facing still significant differences between the U.S. and Iran, negotiators gave up on last-minute efforts to get a nuclear deal by the Monday deadline and extended their talks for another seven months. The move gives both sides breathing space to work out an agreement but may be badly received by domestic sceptics, since it extends more than a decade of diplomatic efforts to curb Iran's nuclear prowess. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Delegations of US Secretary of State John Kerry, Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, , left side from left, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, center right, and former EU foreign pilicy chief Catherine Ashton, center,sit around the negotiations table during their talks on Iran, in Vienna, Austria, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Joe Klamar, Pool)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif laughs with reporters before meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. Zarif said on Wednesday that his meeting with Kerry was important to see if progress could be made in narrowing differences on his country's disputed nuclear program. (AP Photo/Rick Wilking, Pool)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif before a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015. Zarif said on Wednesday that his meeting with Kerry was important to see if progress could be made in narrowing differences on his country's disputed nuclear program. (AP Photo/Rick Wilking, Pool)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif talks with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius, during a meeting at the Quai d'Orsay, in Paris, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. An American official says U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with his Iranian counterpart in Paris on Friday in what will be their second face-to-face encounter this week. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
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After more than a decade of diplomatic efforts to limit Tehran's nuclear advances, the present talks already had been extended twice, demonstrating the difficulties of reaching an agreement that meets the demands of both sides.

The U.S. and its negotiating partners demand curbs on Iranian nuclear activities that could be used to make weapons, and they say any agreement must extend the time Tehran would need to produce a weapon from the present several months to at least a year. The Iranians deny such military intentions, but they are negotiating with the aim that a deal will end sanctions on their economy.

In Washington, White House press secretary Josh Earnest suggested that talks meant to produce an outline that would allow the sides to continue negotiations until the June 30 final deadline had not bridged all gaps. He said the sides were working to produce a text with few specifics, accompanied by documents outlining areas where further talks were needed

"If we are making progress toward the finish line, then we should keep going," he said.

Officials had hoped to wrap up the current talks by Tuesday night with that joint general statement agreeing to start a new phase of negotiations to curb Iran's nuclear program. That statement would be accompanied by more detailed documents that would include technical information on understandings of steps required on all sides to resolve outstanding concerns.

Those documents would allow the sides to claim that the new phase of talks would not simply be a continuation of negotiations that have already been twice extended since an interim agreement between Iran and the so-called P5+1 nations was concluded in November 2013.

President Barack Obama and other leaders have said they are not interested in simply a third extension.

The softening of the language from a framework "agreement" to a framework "understanding" appeared due in part to opposition to a two-stage agreement from Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Earlier this year, he demanded only one deal that would nail down specifics and not permit the other side to "make things difficult" by giving it wiggle room on interpretations.

But if the parties agree only to a broad framework that leaves key details unresolved, Obama can expect stiff opposition at home from members of Congress who want to move forward with new, stiffer Iran sanctions. Lawmakers had agreed to hold off on such a measure through March while the parties negotiated.

The White House says new sanctions would scuttle further diplomatic efforts to contain Iran's nuclear work and possibly lead Israel to act on threats to use military force to accomplish that goal.

Critics will likely accuse the Obama administration of backing away from promises of a tougher March agreement. Kerry late last year said the focus for March was agreement on "the major elements" of a comprehensive deal that would set a "clear path" for a June deal. If that failed to materialize, "we can revisit how we then want to choose to proceed," he added.

Obstacles remain on several main issues - uranium enrichment, where stockpiles of enriched uranium should be stored, limits on Iran's nuclear research and development and the timing and scope of sanctions among other issues, according to negotiators.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu renewed his severe criticism of the unfolding deal, saying it would leave intact much of Iran's nuclear infrastructure, including underground research facilities, a plutonium reactor and advanced centrifuges capable of enriching uranium.

The U.S. says any final deal will accomplish a goal of stretching the time Iran would need to make a nuclear weapon from several months to a year. But Netanyahu said Washington initially promised "years" to a breakout time.

"In our estimate, it will be reduced to perhaps a year, most likely much less than that," he said.

Kerry and others, including Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, have said the sides have made some progress. Other officials have said Iran is considering demands for further cuts to its uranium enrichment program but pushing back on how long it must limit technology it could use to make atomic arms.

Tehran says it wants to enrich only for energy, science, industry and medicine. But many countries fear Iran could use the technology to make weapons-grade uranium.

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White House Correspondents Julie Pace and Darlene Superville contributed.

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