Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

House revives bill on Mexico-American border crisis

House Republicans revived their bill on the U.S.-Mexico border crisis in dramatic fashion Friday, preparing to pass it after winning over conservatives with tough new provisions that could threaten deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants already working in this country legally. President Barack Obama condemned the Republican action and said he’d act unilaterally, as best he could. A day after GOP leaders pulled the border bill from the floor in a chaotic retreat, tea party lawmakers were enthusiastically on board with the new $694 million version and a companion measure that would shut off a program created by Obama
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Veterans Administration fixes approved by Congress

Congress passed a landmark bill Thursday to help veterans avoid long waits for health care and fix other problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs. A 91-3 vote in the Senate sent the $16.3 billion measure to President Barack Obama for his signature. The House had voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill on Wednesday. The legislation is a response to reports of veterans dying while awaiting appointments to see VA doctors and cover-ups of the delays at several of the VA’s 1,000 hospitals and outpatient clinics. The bill devotes $10 billion in emergency spending over three years to pay
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CIA director changes his tone on Senate spying

For months, CIA Director John Brennan stood firm in his insistence that the CIA had little to be ashamed of after searching the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee. His defiant posture quickly collapsed after a devastating report by his own inspector general sided against the CIA on each key point of the dispute with the Senate. According to an unclassified summary of the report released Thursday, five agency employees — two lawyers and three computer specialists— improperly accessed Intelligence Committee computers earlier this year during a disagreement over interrogation documents. Then, despite Brennan ordering a halt to that operation,
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Congress goes to gimmicks to pay for highway funds

Congress is providing $11 billion to prevent a 28 percent reduction in federal highway and mass transit spending at the peak of the summer construction season. The Senate passed a House-written bill to augment federal gasoline and diesel fuel taxes for keeping the federal Highway Trust Fund solvent through next May. The bill raises the money through: —Pension “smoothing.” Raises $6.4 billion by allowing companies to reduce the amount that they contribute to their pension funds now and make up for it later. Since pension contributions are tax deductible, companies would owe more tax revenue in the next few years
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IRS officials belittled, targeted conservatives, GOP claims

Congressional investigators say this is why they want all of Lois Lerner’s emails. Newly released emails show the former IRS official referring to some right-wing Republicans as “crazies” and more, a revelation that is fueling GOP claims of a political conspiracy at the tax agency to target conservative groups. Lerner headed the IRS division that handles applications for tax-exempt status. In a series of emails with an associate in November 2012, Lerner made two disparaging remarks about some members of the GOP, including one remark that was vulgar. Rep. Dave Camp, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, released
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Congress rushing to run away from Washington for a month

Congress is racing to wrap up legislation addressing chronic problems at the Veterans Affairs Department and a shortfall in highway money ahead of its five-week summer break. Deep divisions cast doubt on any resolution to the surge of immigrants at the border. The institutional split of a Republican-led House and Democratic-controlled Senate has added up to inaction, especially in a midterm election year with control of the Senate at stake. In the final days before leaving Washington, lawmakers have struggled to compromise on a handful of bills to deal with the nation’s pressing problems amid overwhelming partisanship. Congress is poised
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Senate immigration bill expected to fail

A bill to deal with the immigration surge at the border appears headed for procedural defeat in the Senate as lawmakers trade blame over their inaction on the crisis. Days ahead of Congress’ five-week summer recess, Senate Democrats’ $3.5 billion emergency spending bill designed to help deal with tens of thousands of young migrants crossing the border illegally has yet to draw the necessary support to move forward. A vote in the Senate was expected Wednesday. The inclusion of hundreds of millions of dollars to fight Western wildfires and provide aid for Israel’s defense hasn’t been enough to win over
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House to tackle VA $178 billion for overhaul

With a new Veterans Affairs secretary in place and an August recess looming, Congress is likely to move quickly to approve a compromise bill to refurbish the VA and improve veterans’ health care. The House could vote on the $17 billion bill as early as Wednesday, with a Senate vote expected soon after as lawmakers rush to complete their work before leaving town this weekend for a five-week recess. The measure, unveiled Monday by the chairmen of the House and Senate veterans affairs committees, is intended help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to
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Senate faces looming highway bill deadline

The Senate is set to take up legislation to keep federal highway money flowing to states, with just three days left before the government plans to start slowing down payments. The House passed a $10.8 billion bill last week that would pay for highway and transit aid through the end of May 2015 if transportation spending is maintained at current levels. Under a schedule outlined by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate would take up that bill Tuesday. But senators who say the House bill uses budgetary gimmicks to pay for roads and bridges or who want to force
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Congress steadfast over support for Israel

Members of Congress are falling over one another to show their support for Israel. While much of the rest of the world watches the Gaza war in horror and scrambles for a cease-fire, U.S. lawmakers are pressing the Obama administration to take no action that puts pressure on Israel to halt its military operations. Many even have criticized the administration’s effort to stop violence that has killed more than 1,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and more than 40 Israeli soldiers and three civilians this month. “At times like this, people try to isolate Israel,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Monday.
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