Capitol Hillbillies

Senate weighs health insurance options

Look out Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare. Senators are meeting behind closed doors to consider whether the federal government should jump into the health insurance business.

The government already covers medical care for seniors, disabled people, poor families and many children. But coverage in those programs is restricted to people who meet certain qualifications, including age and income.

Democrats rush to capitalize on torture memos

Casting aside their president’s misgivings, Democrats are racing into hearings to criticize newly released Bush administration memos justifying harsh terrorism interrogations.

So far, however, the biggest embarrassment has engulfed a Democrat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

As Pelosi keeps trying to clarify when she initially learned of the interrogation techniques, a Senate Judiciary subcommittee scheduled a hearing Wednesday that was billed as the "first public hearing on torture memos since their release."

Does traditional media have a future?

Old Media squared off against New Media as a US Senate panel examined the future of journalism in the digital age.

The demise of the newspaper industry took center stage as a Texas newspaper publisher, a former Baltimore Sun reporter, a top executive from Google and the founder of The Huffington Post website traded jabs in a Senate hearing room on Wednesday.

Dems want $94.2 billion in new war funds

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives will seek passage in coming weeks of $94.2 billion in emergency money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other programs, including $2 billion more to prepare for an influenza pandemic.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, outlining the legislation for reporters, also said the legislation would include $2.2 billion to fund some C-17 airplanes for the Pentagon. But it will not address future purchases of a refueling tanker airplane sought by the Air Force.

New Democrat Specter leads in poll

Senator Arlen Specter‘s switch to the Democratic Party appears to be paying off with a poll on Monday showing him ahead in his 2010 re-election race in Pennsylvania.

Last week Specter, 79, abandoned the Republican Party to run for re-election as a Democrat, a move denounced by fellow Republicans but welcomed by the country’s top Democrat, President Barack Obama.

Republicans attack Obama on terrorism

After weeks of concentrating their attacks against President Barack Obama on the economy, Republicans are branching out. They’re taking aim at his anti-terrorism policy.

"Just what is the administration’s overarching plan to take on the terrorist threat and to keep America safe?" asks House Republican leader John Boehner in a new Web video featuring ominous music, unsettling images and less than flattering photos of the president.

House approves credit card protections

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted on Thursday in favor of legislation to protect credit card users from hidden fees, sudden interest rate hikes and questionable billing practices.

The chamber voted 357 to 70 in support of the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights, sponsored by New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney. This year, 107 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, compared with 84 Republicans voting for a similar bill last year.

Congress controls Obama’s agenda

As he starts his second 100 days as president, Barack Obama must yield much of his agenda’s fate to Congress.

His biggest proposals, such as revising health care, energy and education policies, are in the hands of lawmakers who will debate, change and possibly reject them in the coming months. Obama obviously can influence lawmakers, but he has less control over his destiny than when he was unveiling new initiatives almost daily and filling out his Cabinet.