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WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ House passage of a massive farm bill could turn on the level of food stamp cuts as key backers scrambled Wednesday to secure support for the five-year, half-trillion dollar measure.

The House planned to begin voting on 103 amendments to the bill, including a Democratic proposal to eliminate $2 billion in annual cuts in the almost $80 billion-a-year food stamp program, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

The bill would make it more difficult for some to qualify for food stamps while expanding some agriculture subsidies and setting policy for rural development programs.

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IRS draws new criticism over $70 million employee bonuses

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Already reeling from a pair of scandals, the Internal Revenue Service is drawing new criticism over plans to hand out millions of dollars in employee bonuses.

The Obama administration has ordered agencies to cancel discretionary bonuses because of automatic spending cuts, but the IRS says it's merely following legal obligations under a union contract.

The agency is about to pay $70 million in employee bonuses, said Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over the IRS.

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FedEx 4Q profit drops as priority services lag

DALLAS (AP) â¿¿ FedEx Corp.'s fourth-quarter profit fell 45 percent as international customers traded down to less-expensive delivery options and the company spent heavily on restructuring.

FedEx said 3,600 employees will take voluntary buyouts and nearly half of them have already left. The company is also retiring older airplanes.

Excluding charges related to those moves, FedEx's results still beat Wall Street expectations. But the company's profit forecast for the next 12 months was less than analysts predicted.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 206.04 points, or 1.4 percent, to close at 15,112.19. The S&P 500 index fell 22.88 points, or 1.4 percent, to 1,628.93. The Nasdaq composite fell 38.98 points, or 1.1 percent, to 3,443.20.

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