Capitol Hillbillies

Agreement in place on stimulus

Economic stimulus legislation at the heart of President Barack Obama’s recovery plan is on track for final votes in the House and Senate after a dizzying final round of bargaining that yielded agreement on tax cuts and spending totaling $789 billion.

Obama, who has campaigned energetically for the legislation, welcomed the agreement, saying it would "save or create more than 3.5 million jobs and get our economy back on track."

Negotiations heat up on stimulus

Negotiators hoped to seal agreement on President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package Wednesday after making good progress in the first rounds of closed-door talks.

Obama’s negotiating team insisted on restoring some lost funding for school construction projects as talks began Tuesday in hopes of striking a quick agreement, but by late in the day it appeared resigned to losing up to $40 billion in aid to state governments.

More spending proposed for stimulus bill

Top Democrats plan to add a big increase in highway and mass transit funding to President Barack Obama’s economic recovery program Tuesday, even as others in the president’s party hope to rein in the plan’s almost $1 trillion cost to taxpayers.

A move by Patty Murray, D-Wash., to add $25 billion in infrastructure projects is first in line as the Senate begins thrashing through dozens of proposed changes to the sprawling $885 billion measure.

Daschle faces more questions

Tom Daschle’s former Democratic colleagues were rallying to his defense after he met behind closed doors with the Senate Finance Committee to discuss problems with back taxes and potential conflicts of interest, but lawmakers promised he will face more questions.

Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader, is President Barack Obama’s nominee to oversee the Health and Human Services Department.

Bipartisanship sounds nice, but seldom works

True to his pledge on the campaign trail, President Obama, in the spirit of bipartisanship and a more civil tone in Washington politics, ventured to Capitol Hill this week for separate closed-door meetings with House and Senate Republicans to sell his $825 billion stimulus plan.

It was a trip he didn’t have to make. The stimulus plan will ultimately pass, although getting it through the Senate might be a bit of a chore. In any case, Obama failed in his mission. He changed no Republican minds, but the president got high marks for trying.

Republicans plot roadblocks to stimulus plan

Congressional Republicans, seeing bipartisanship as a one-way street that serves their needs, plan to throw up roadblocks to President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plans unless he gives in to their demands.

GOP leaders in both the House and Senate say they will urge their followers to vote "no" unless Obama caves in.

So much for the spirit of bipartisanship.

Economy tops Congressional agenda for week

Congress is set to tackle the economy this week by considering President Barack Obama’s choice to head the Treasury Department and by acting on legislation to spur economic growth.

The Senate could confirm Timothy Geithner as Treasury secretary as early as Monday, after delaying a vote because Geithner failed to pay some of his federal taxes earlier this decade. Geithner settled his delinquent taxes shortly before Obama nominated him, and senators from both parties have said they expect him to be confirmed. Geithner would oversee the financial industry bailout approved by Congress.

What seems to be the problem here?

Why is filling a vacant Senate seat suddenly so difficult?

Barack Obama’s victory in the presidential race left his Senate seat vacant and there were a host of qualified Illinois politicians eager to fill it. Gov. Rod Blagojevich had a plan to simplify the selection — sell it to the highest bidder. Unfortunately, this didn’t sit well with federal prosecutors.

Caroline Kennedy drops Senate bid

Caroline Kennedy caught Washington watchers off guard early today by dropping her bid to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as the new junior Senator from New York. 

In a brief note to New York Gov. David A. Patterson, Kennedy withdrew from consideration for appointment to the post, citing "personal reasons." The note followed a phone call by Kennedy to the governor’s office on Wednesday.

Questions may delay Clinton confirmation

Republican Sen. John Cornyn may hold up the nomination of Hillary Clinton to become secretary of state if his concerns about foreign donations to her husband’s foundation are not resolved, a spokesman for the Texas senator said on Monday.

"Senator Cornyn is a strong proponent of complete transparency and has fought for as much throughout his time in office. He is keeping all of his options on the table," said his spokesman Kevin McLaughlin in an email reply to Reuters, when asked if Cornyn could block Clinton’s nomination.