Capitol Hillbillies

Sotomayor handles Republicans with ease

Judge Sonia Sotomayor, whose confirmation as the first Hispanic on the US Supreme Court is virtually assured, returns to Capitol Hill Wednesday for a third day of Senate grilling.

Sotomayor was due back before the Senate Judiciary Committee at 9:30 am (1330 GMT), a day after she fought back against charges of racial bias and distanced herself from her past remark that a "wise Latina" woman’s heritage might help make better rulings than a white judge.

Sotomayor: ‘I’m nobody’s clone’

Sonia Sotomayor said she’s nobody’s clone. She’s spent a good part of her confirmation hearings showing it — and perhaps offering a preview of how she would carry herself on the Supreme Court.

There were large stretches in nearly seven hours of questioning Tuesday in which Sotomayor lapsed into the sort of painfully parsed answers that seem to afflict all Supreme Court nominees. The goal, after all, is to get confirmed and saying too little always is better than saying too much.

Sotomayor questioning begins on the Hill

Senate Republicans plan to confront Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor with her own words, taken from speeches dating back 15 years, as they try to raise doubts about her ability to judge fairly.

Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing resumes in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday with question-and-answer rounds that are expected to stretch over two days and possibly into a third.

A calm, focused nominee faces Senate

Intensely focused, Sonia Sotomayor sits like a statue as senator after senator addresses her, as well as a nationwide TV audience, at her confirmation hearing for Supreme Court justice. Occasionally, she nods her head when one of them says something particularly nice about her.

But for the most part Sotomayor maintains a steady glare at those speaking to her, just as she has glared at the lawyers who’ve come before her in the 17 years she’s been a federal judge in New York.

Sotomayor hearings take center stage

As Sonia Sotomayor enters confirmation hearings this week to become the first Hispanic member of the U.S. Supreme Court, the hoopla surrounding her nomination has become a melodrama where hyperbole replaces facts and illusion shrouds reality.

Her critics have done all they can to try and subvert her nomination but — in the tradition of all melodramas, the heroine may be threatened but she will be saved by the end of the day.

Blue Dog Democrats split with Obama

Conservative House Democrats are demanding significant changes before they can support a sweeping health care overhaul, forcing the House to join the Senate in delaying action on President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.

The Blue Dog Democrats’ list of demands came on the eve of House Democratic leaders’ planned unveiling of their final bill Friday. The bill release was pushed back to Monday at the earliest and Democratic leaders agreed to devote Friday to meetings with the fiscally conservative Blue Dogs to work through their concerns.

Burris will give up Senate seat

Roland Burris gambled that he could accept a U.S. Senate appointment from a political pariah and still be seen as an honest, hardworking public servant. He lost.

Burris was permanently tainted when he happily took the offer from Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich just three weeks after Blagojevich was arrested for trying to sell a Senate seat to the highest bidder. He fought waves of criticism, opposition from fellow Democrats, court battles and even a perjury investigation.

Ensign’s parents paid off his mistress

Sen. John Ensign said Thursday his parents gave his mistress and her family nearly $100,000 "out of concern for the well being of longtime family friends during a difficult time," providing his first public acknowledgment that the woman received payments tied to the affair.

A Robin Hood health care plan?

House Democrats at work on health legislation are narrowing in on an income tax surcharge on the highest-paid wage earners to help pay the cost of subsidizing insurance for the 50 million who lack it.

Pushing to complete a comprehensive health care bill by Friday and bring it up for committee votes next week, House Democrats abandoned earlier money-raising proposals, including a payroll tax. They planned to meet behind closed doors Thursday to fine-tune the details.

Hoyer: Another stimulus may be needed

One of President Barack Obama‘s top allies in Congress said Tuesday that lawmakers must be open to seeking a second economic stimulus package to fight a stubborn recession and create jobs.

"I think we need to be open to whether or not we need additional action," said House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who underlined it was too soon to fully assess the 787-billion-dollar stimulus approved in February.