Capitol Hillbillies

A shouting and shoving match in Congress

Two volatile members of Congress got into a shouting and shoving match on the House floor Thursday.

Rep. David Obey, the powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Maxine Waters, the California Democrat known for her vocal outbursts to anyone who doesn’t agree with her, went at each other in a disagreement over some pork barrel legislation Waters wanted for an employment center that just happens to bear her name.

Turning the tables: GOP plays ethics card

Republicans long ago lost the moral high ground on ethics. You can’t claim honesty and ethical behavior when you have leaders like Tom DeLay, who never met a bribe he wouldn’t take, or hypocritical whorehounds like John Ensign and Mark Sanford.

That, however, doesn’t stop the GOP from aimng a morality shotgun at entrenched Democrats like Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha and Virginia Rep. Jim Moran — who long-termers who also play fast and loose with the rules.

Hill bi-partisanship: Real or a myth?

Even as President Barack Obama and the insurance industry move toward open confrontation over the role of government in health care, his administration is telling lawmakers to keep pushing for a bipartisan deal.

Medicare deal could help pay for drugs

Medicare beneficiaries would receive better drug coverage and a portion of President Barack Obama’s health care legislation would be paid for under an emerging agreement involving the pharmaceutical industry, the White House and key lawmakers.

Several officials said Friday night that agreement on the $80 billion deal was close, and one said it had been sealed.

New law will turn gas-guzzlers into cash

Car shoppers could take advantage of government incentives worth up to $4,500 this summer to send their old gas guzzler to the scrap heap in favor of a more fuel-efficient new vehicle.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign into law the "cash for clunkers" program, which was approved by the Senate on Thursday. For owners of low-mileage models such as the 1994 Ford Bronco, 1998 Nissan Pathfinder or the 1995 Chevrolet Blazer, the plan could give them a reason to visit their local car dealer during an economic downturn.

War funds bill passes Congress, but…

The U.S. Congress on Thursday sent President Barack Obama a $106 billion bill to pay for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars after political sparring that could foreshadow tougher fights over Obama’s agenda.

The bill, delayed by disputes over quickly closing the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay and expanding support for the IMF, highlighted the difficulties Obama may face in Congress even though his fellow Democrats control both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Ensign’s affair: Another mess for GOP

It’s just about the last thing the beleaguered Republican Party needed: a Christian conservative with national aspirations admitting to an extramarital affair with an ex-staffer.

Add Nevada Sen. John Ensign’s infidelity admission to an ever-growing list of woes for the out-of-power GOP.

One senator’s predicament hardly condemns an entire party. But the episode is an unwelcome distraction as the Republicans, their ranks shrinking, seek a turnaround after disastrous losses in consecutive national elections.

Sen. Ensign admits banging campaign aide

Just two weeks after taking the first steps toward a 2012 presidential bid, conservative Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada is admitting to an extramarital affair last year with a campaign aide.

Ensign, a rising star in conservative circles and Nevada’s most popular Republican, disclosed the affair at a hastily arranged news conference here Thursday, shattering his prospects for heading his party’s ticket three years from now and jarring a state already dealing with a scandal involving its GOP governor.

House narrowly approves war funding

The House of Representatives on Tuesday narrowly backed a $106 billion bill to pay for the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and extend billions in new credit to the International Monetary Fund.

The legislation also includes extras like vouchers to spur U.S. car sales, and comes after a series of political battles that exposed the sharp fissures between President Barack Obama’s Democrats and the Republican minority.

Kennedy’s health plan could cost $1 trillion

A Senate panel proposal to expand healthcare coverage would increase the federal deficit by about $1 trillion over 10 years and still leave millions without insurance, a congressional analysis said on Monday.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said its calculations were preliminary and stressed that the Democratic-sponsored legislation was still being drafted.

But its estimates could fuel opposition to President Barack Obama’s drive for healthcare reform, which critics fear would result in an expensive government takeover of the U.S. healthcare system.