The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world. Click on the headlines for more.
CNN: Republicans consider adding spending cuts to 'Plan B'
Apparently scrambling for votes on their alternative to a fiscal cliff deal – known as Plan B – House Republicans late Wednesday were considering expanding the scope of their tax cut extension measure to include spending cuts. The measure, according to GOP sources, would be modified in an effort to win support from Republicans who were concerned the extension without spending cuts was a net tax increase.
CNN: Clinton to testify before House panel in January
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify in January before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told CNN on Wednesday. Clinton was slated to testify on the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya before the panel on Thursday, but canceled her scheduled Capitol Hill appearances after her office acknowledged on Saturday she had recently suffered a concussion and would be working from home this week.
CNN: Transcript: Obama tasks Biden, team with gun violence recommendations
The nation will have a set of recommendations to address widespread gun violence within weeks, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday at a White House news conference. Here is a transcript of his full remarks, including comments on the fiscal cliff and Republicans' Plan B proposal.
CNN: State Department upheaval follows Benghazi report
Four State Department officials have been disciplined in the wake of a review of the security failures that led to the deaths of four Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a department spokeswoman said Wednesday. One resigned, while three others have been placed on administrative leave and relieved of their duties, said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
TIME: Guilt by Association: Troubling Legacy of Sandy Hook May Be Backlash Against Children with Autism
Amid unconfirmed media reports that alleged gunman Adam Lanza, 20, had Asperger’s, a high-functioning form of autism marked by social awkwardness, autism experts are mobilizing to combat misconceptions about the condition. Parents are reaching out to school principals to ensure that students with autism aren’t being taunted. Advocates have issued statements disavowing any link between autism and premeditated aggression.
CNN: Season's first blizzard starts journey in the Plains
People traveling early for Christmas in the center of the country will be dashing through the snow and the rain and the wind. The first major storm of the season has prompted the National Weather Service to issue a blizzard warning for a huge swath of the Midwest stretching from eastern Colorado to Wisconsin's Lake Michigan shoreline, including virtually all of Iowa.
CNN: U.S. soldier to be court-martialed, could face death penalty
A U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers in a shooting rampage could face the death penalty if he is found guilty in a court-martial. The military has referred the case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales to a court-martial authorized to consider capital punishment, according to a military statement released Wednesday.
CNN Security Clearance: Reports of abuse at Army day care spurs call from Obama
President Barack Obama made the rare move of calling the secretary of the Army on Tuesday night to express concern about reports of abuse at an Army child care facility, U.S. officials told CNN. It is highly unusual for the president to call a military service secretary regarding a criminal matter, said a senior U.S. defense official who has served at the Pentagon for more than a decade.
CNN: U.N. announces $1.5 billion aid effort for Syrian refugees
The United Nations has launched humanitarian plans worth $1.5 billion to help ease the suffering of millions of Syrians both inside and outside the country. More than 525,000 Syrians have already crossed into neighboring countries, the United Nations announced Wednesday, and it estimated that more than a million will flee in the next six months.
CNN: Park Geun-hye, president's daughter, ascends to top job
Park Geun-hye lived up to her nickname as the "Queen of Elections" after winning the race Wednesday to become South Korea's first female president. Park, 60, will return to the Blue House, the official residence for the nation's president, where she spent her formative years as the daughter of former dictator Park Chung-hee.
CNN Security Clearance: Benghazi suspects still on the loose
More than three months after the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, not a single person has been charged in connection with the assault. Most, if not all, of those questioned in Libya since the attack have been released. A Libyan source with knowledge of the investigation, who did not want to be identified because of the sensitivities involved in the probe, told CNN there are indications that the perpetrators of the attack came from beyond the Benghazi area and slipped away immediately afterward.
CNN: Some believe Friday is doomsday on the Mayan calendar; the Mayans don't
There may be no one left on earth to say TGIF this week. Some believe the world is coming to an end Friday - on 12/21/12 - which is when an important phase on the ancient calendar of the Mayan people terminates. Mayans don't buy it.
CNNMoney: TARP bailout close to breaking even
The TARP bailout fund, which pumped nearly $500 billion into the nation's leading banks, automakers and insurers, is getting closer to the break-even point. The big banks had already paid back their loans, and last week, the Treasury Department sold its remaining stake in AIG. On Wednesday, General Motors said it was buying back 200 million shares from the government. Bailed-out companies had also paid nearly $43 billion in dividends and interest over the past four years.
CNNMoney: Fix fiscal cliff or risk downgrade, says Fitch
Fitch ratings agency repeated a warning Wednesday that it may strip the United States of its AAA credit rating if Washington is unable to strike a deal soon to avert the fiscal cliff and allow borrowing to rise.
CNNMoney: What a new inflation measure would mean for your wallet
President Obama put a new offer on the table in the fiscal cliff negotiations, and it includes a wonky change that may raise your taxes and reduce your Social Security benefits ... a little. The proposal centers around how the U.S. government calculates inflation.
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CNN’s Drew Griffin tracks down a woman allegedly behind a fraudulent e-mail set up to collect donations for a Newtown victim.