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Egypt will hold a referendum on a new constitution in the middle of January, a government minister told the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper on Monday. Hany Mahmoud, minister of state for administrative development, said the vote would be held nationwide over two days, the newspaper's website reported. The new constitution is an important milestone in the political transition plan drawn up by the army-installed interim government that took office after Islamist President Mohamed Mursi was deposed by the military on July 3. A 50-member assembly finished the draft last week and handed it to interim President Adly Mansour, who has yet to set the referendum date.
By Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A budget deal aimed at avoiding a U.S. government shutdown on January 15 and relieving federal agencies of some indiscriminate spending cuts that are set to begin with the new year could emerge in Congress on Tuesday, congressional aides said on Monday. Democratic Senator Patty Murray and Republican Representative Paul Ryan are scheduled to meet on Tuesday with the goal of finalizing a deal, according to aides who asked not to be identified. For the past several weeks, Murray and Ryan, who head their chambers' respective budget panels, have been privately trying to reach a two-year budget deal that aims to end the Republican-Democratic brinkmanship over fiscal affairs that led to October's 16-day partial federal government shutdown. According to aides, Ryan and Murray have been discussing an unambitious plan that would suspend some of the automatic spending cuts, known in Washington as "sequestration," that hit the Pentagon and other agencies hard.
The US Treasury sold its last shares in General Motors on Monday, ending the dramatic rescue of the auto giant at the height of the financial crisis five years ago. The Treasury took a loss of more that $10 billion on the $49.5 billion bailout, but said that saving the US auto industry, the jobs of millions of auto workers and the pensions of many retirees was worth it. The 2008 rescue, controversial at the time, "helped stabilize the auto industry, and prevent another Great Depression," Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said. He said that President Barack Obama "understood that inaction could have cost the broader economy more than one million jobs, billions in lost personal savings, and significantly reduced economic production.