WASHINGTON

Republicans in Congress challenge President Obama

Newly empowered congressional Republicans challenged President Obama at both ends of the Capitol on Tuesday, voting in the House to repeal the health care program he signed into law but faltering in an initial Senate attempt to roll back immigration policies he issued on his own.

There was a third challenge as well, as Republican leaders announced the House would give final approval next week on legislation clearing the way for construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. That would trigger Obama’s threatened veto, the first in a new era of divided government.

The skirmishes all seemed likely to end in eventual defeat for Republicans, but served as a potent reminder of their power after Obama challenged them bluntly last month with his State of the Union address and a no-balance budget on Monday calling for higher taxes and new spending.

The House vote on health care was 239 to 186. Both of Maine’s representatives, Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, and Bruce Poliquin, a Republican, voted against repeal.

VATICAN CITY

Pope’s decree moves slain archbishop closer to sainthood

Thirty-five years after he was gunned down by a right-wing death squad as he celebrated Mass, Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero moved a step closer to possible sainthood Tuesday when Pope Francis declared he was a martyr killed out of hatred for his Catholic faith.

The decree by the first Latin American pope ended decades of debate over whether Romero – a hero of the liberation theology movement – was slain for his politics or his preaching. It opens the way for Romero to be beatified as early as this year, though no date has been set.