Capitol Hillbillies

Senators shrug off NRA threats

The National Rifle Association’s threat to punish senators who vote for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has been met with a shrug by Democrats from conservative-leaning states and some Republicans who are breaking with their party to support her.

Senators got ‘special’ loans

Two influential Senate committee chairmen were told they were getting special VIP deals when they applied for mortgages, an official who handled their loans told Congress in closed-door testimony. Democratic Sens. Christopher Dodd and Kent Conrad had denied knowing they were getting discounts when they negotiated their loan terms.

Senate dumps public option on health care reform

A bipartisan group of senators is closing in on a health care compromise that omits key Democratic priorities but seeks to hold down costs, as lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol labor to deliver sweeping health legislation to President Barack Obama.

After weeks of secretive talks, three Democrats and three Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee were edging closer to a compromise that excludes a requirement many congressional Democrats seek for large businesses to offer coverage to their workers. Nor would there be a provision for a government insurance option, despite Obama’s support for such a plan, officials said.

Obama needs Republican votes on health care

President Barack Obama’s push to overhaul health care needs Republican votes, lawmakers from both parties say.

Democratic and GOP officials acknowledged Sunday that Obama’s ambitious plan would not pass without the aid of a doubtful GOP, whose members are almost united against the White House effort.

Opponents relish health care bill delay

August means beaches and barbecues. And for some, a chance to rally the troops for this fall’s health care showdown.

Senate postponement of work on health care until September gives interest groups on both sides an entire month to whip up supporters, and pushes off crucial votes on the overhaul effort until fall — when people are likely to refocus on the issue.

Bernanke admits bailout stunk

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Sunday that he had to "hold my nose" over last year’s taxpayer-financed bailouts of big financial companies but argued that the action had to be taken to avoid a major meltdown of the U.S. financial system and the broader economy.

Democrats to Obama: Not so fast on health care

Slow down, Senate Democrats told President Barack Obama on Thursday, dashing hopes of rushing his sweeping health care overhaul to a summertime vote and adding to the troubles the plan could face as the year wears on. "That’s OK," the president replied gamely. "Just keep working."

Reid violates ethics rules, amends reports

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed 42 pages worth of amended financial disclosure reports Thursday for the years 2000 through 2006 to more fully account for a land deal in Las Vegas and to more accurately reflect the value of some other properties he owns.

Blue Dog Dems fight Obama’s excesses

Conservative-leaning Blue Dog Democrats are enjoying a power surge like no other in their 15 years, forcing President Barack Obama and their own party leaders to deal with their demands for cost cuts and tax restraints in overhauling health care.

The evidence is everywhere these days: Polls show the public shares their concerns about the cost of Obama’s plan to insure all Americans who seek coverage. Obama himself has spent valuable presidential time in private talks with these Democrats and in near-daily appeals for the public to prod Congress into action.

Sessions remains opposed to Sotomayor

The top Republican on the Senate committee reviewing Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination said Sunday her testimony did not settle his concerns about elevating her to the Supreme Court. "I was troubled by a number of the things the nominee has said, a number of the rulings she has made," said Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Sotomayor, a federal appeals court judge, is expected to be confirmed, given the Democrats’ big edge in the Senate and public support already from three GOP senators.