Capitol Hillbillies

Another Gitmo setback for Obama

Lawmakers Thursday dealt another blow to President Barack Obama’s plans to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, denying a request for extra funds and restricting the transfer and release of detainees.

The House Appropriations subcommittee, tasked with funding the Justice Department and other agencies, threw out a request for 60 million dollars to help the department shutter the prison on the US naval base in southern Cuba.

Congress vows short leash on auto bankruptcies

Congress will closely monitor the role played by the federal government during its management of insolvent auto giants General Motors and Chrysler, a top House Democrat said Wednesday.

"Obviously the committees of jurisdiction will be exercising oversight," said Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, at a press conference.

GOP offers $23 billion in spending cuts

Responding to a challenge from President Barack Obama, House GOP leaders are offering up a roster of more than $23 billion in spending cuts over the next five years.

The proposed cuts, which were to be sent to the White House on Thursday, bear little resemblance to the dramatic proposals Republicans unfurled when they took over Congress 14 years ago.

Sotomayor faces critics on Capitol Hill

Judge Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday countered Republican charges that she would let her background dictate her rulings as Americans signaled a favorable first impression of President Barack Obama’s first Supreme Court choice. A new Associated Press-GfK poll suggested that Americans have a more positive view of her than they did of any of former President George W. Bush’s nominees to the high court. Half backed her confirmation.

Tentative deal cut for funding Iraq, Afghan wars

Top House and Senate Democrats reached a tentative agreement on an almost $100 billion war funding bill Monday, including a generous new line of credit for the International Monetary Fund.

At the core of the measure is President Barack Obama’s war funding request, which included $76 billion for Pentagon operations. But the IMF funding is a top priority of Obama, who pledged the $100 billion line of credit at April’s G-20 summit in London to help developing countries deal with the troubled global economy.

The actual U.S. costs for the IMF contribution are far less — $5 billion is the Congressional Budget Office estimate — since the U.S. government is given interest-bearing assets in return.

Sotomayor heads for Capitol Hill

Appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor is getting her first chance to make an impression on senators who will vote on her nomination to the Supreme Court, with a marathon set of Capitol Hill meet-and-greets that kicks off what could be a long debate.

Sotomayor’s schedule Tuesday is packed with roughly half-hour meetings — known as "courtesy calls" — that are as important for the courtly tone they set for the debate as they are for offering a few moments of candid conversation with the nominee.

Congress set to tackle health care reform

It’s go time for President Barack Obama’s promise to enact a sweeping health care overhaul this year.

First up as Congress returns from a weeklong recess: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, partially sidelined by cancer, is convening his health committee’s Democrats on Tuesday to begin weighing his proposals to extend health care to all.

Later in the week, the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee meets behind closed doors to work on legislation to achieve the same goal.

The GOP’s Sotomayor quandry

Republicans are divided over how aggressively to go after federal judge Sonia Sotomayor, a family feud about the tone of the coming debate over confirming the Supreme Court’s first Hispanic.

A growing chorus of GOP lawmakers and conservative strategists are voicing concern over the strident rhetoric some prominent Republicans have used to describe Sotomayor, and some are denouncing right-wing groups for swiftly launching negative advertisements against her.

New corruption scandal on Capitol Hill

A federal grand jury has subpoenaed a Democratic congressman in a corruption probe, the first concrete indication that a long-simmering Justice Department investigation of a top lobbying firm also has the potential to seriously damage congressional careers.

On Friday, Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., acknowledged the grand jury has demanded documents from his office, some employees and his campaign committees.

GOP may filibuster Obama’s court pick

Empathy isn’t part of the job description for a Supreme Court justice, a top Republican says.

As President Barack Obama prepares to name his pick for the high court, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican said the qualifications being discussed — "emotions or feelings or preconceived ideas," Sen. Jon Kyl called them — aren’t enough to justify a lifetime appointment. The Arizona Republican on Sunday wouldn’t rule out a filibuster to block an Obama pick that falls outside his definition of the mainstream.