Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

Reid ready to deal on Bush-era tax breaks

The top Democrat in the Senate said on Tuesday he was willing to consider a temporary tax cut extension for all income levels, a step that could pave the way for a possible deal with Republicans on Bush-era tax cuts. “This is something we will take a look at,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters, referring to a plan to extend all the cuts for two or three years. Many leading Democrats like Reid previously opposed continuing tax cuts for the wealthiest, while they want a permanent extension of existing tax cuts for those individuals making $200,000 or less
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Can Democrats buck the anti-pork tidal wave?

Now that Republicans have abandoned the you-scratch-my-back, I’ll-scratch-yours earmark process, Democrats who still hold a majority in the Senate have to decide whether they’ll try to prop up a system that seems to be collapsing all around them. With the incoming House GOP majority dead set against earmarks and President Barack Obama urging a crackdown, defenders of earmarks — mostly Democrats but with a few Republicans mixed in — are swimming against a powerful tide. Earmarking allows lawmakers to steer federal spending to pet projects in their states and districts. Earmarks take many forms. They can be road projects, improvements
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Obama-GOP confab postponed until end of month

A meeting planned on Thursday between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders following big Republican gains at the expense of Obama’s Democrats in the November 2 elections has been postponed until November 30. Obama’s spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said the meeting was put off at the request of Republican leaders in the Senate and the House of Representatives due to as scheduling conflict. In the elections Republicans won control of the House and cut the Democratic lead in the Senate. Political and economic analysts hope the meeting will show the approach both sides will take over key issues, including whether to
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Rangel convicted on 11 ethics violations

Rep. Charles Rangel, once one of the most influential House members, was convicted Tuesday on 11 counts of breaking ethics rules and now faces punishment. An ethics panel of eight House peers deliberated over two days before delivering a jarring blow to the 20-term New York Democrat’s career. Rangel was charged with 13 counts of financial and fundraising misconduct. The conviction also was another setback for Democrats who lost control of the House to the GOP in the midterm elections. Rangel, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, is not expected to resign. He is 80 years old and
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Split Congress spells trouble for election reform

The Obama administration has pushed an ambitious education agenda in the last two years, sending $100 billion to states thorough the stimulus package and spurring reform in many locations through the Race to the Top competition. But none of the major initiatives pushed by President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have been bipartisan. Most were approved through large spending bills that Republicans opposed. Politicians and experts say the big Republican gains in Congress will serve as a roadblock to further Democrat-led education reform efforts, including a likely decrease in big-ticket spending as the GOP seeks greater fiscal restraint.
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Reid, McDonnell keep Senate leadership posts

Senate Democrats and Republicans alike are poised to return their respective party leaders to their posts following an election in which the top Democrat scrambled to retain his seat and the senior Republican picked up 13 new senators. Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, is unopposed to keep his post, as is Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, the minority leader. Reid’s midterm election victory over tea party favorite Sharron Angle spared Democrats a battle over who might have replaced him. And McConnell is sidestepping a divisive fight with conservatives over earmarks by endorsing a tea party-sponsored ban on them. Copyright
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New clobbers old on Capitol Hill

Old and new Washington collided on Capitol Hill Monday, and new won. Within moments of flicking on the Senate lights, Sen. Mitch McConnell announced that when it came to pork barrel politics he had changed his mind. The Senate’s staunchest fan of so-called earmarks reversed course and supported a ban on those special spending requests, a bow to the tea partiers and others in the populist, antiestablishment wave that gave the GOP control of the House and six more seats in the Senate. “Old habits aren’t easy to break, but sometimes they must be,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
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McConnell flips and backs ban on pork barrel spending

Congress’ most unapologetic fan of big-money politics is backing a ban on pork-barrel earmarks and avoiding an early battle with conservative senators who had threatened to force a vote on the matter. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who has long defended the practice of designating money for home-state projects, said he was heeding the message sent by voters so distrustful of government that they swept Democrats from power in the House. McConnell said the abuse of the earmarking system turned it into a symbol of government waste that Republicans do oppose. “Old habits aren’t easy to break,” McConnell, the Senate
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Tea Party’s diverse agenda could be a problem

South Carolina tea party activist Sunny O’Donovan plans to travel to Washington in January to personally witness the swearing-in of her new congressman, Jeff Duncan, who was elected with the backing of several tea party groups. On that day, O’Donovan will shift from being an enthusiastic supporter to an eager constituent with a long wish list. “What I’d really like to see is the national Department of Education abolished and some plans for education to be given back to the states,” she said. “But the first thing is to permanently install the Bush tax cuts. . . . And repeal
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Pelosi’s political purgatory

The petite woman in regal purple edged her way behind a raucous mob of reporters awaiting the next speaker of the House, a brutal midterm election behind her and an unclear future ahead. Attuned for four years to the comings and goings of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, few in the press klatch noticed — and none followed her. The spotlight and the microphones now awaited not the California Democrat, but Ohio Republican John Boehner. Change at the top, the populist battle cry in the 2010 midterm elections, already has taken hold around Pelosi in the final days of her history-making
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