Capitol Hillbillies

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.

Pelosi wants Bush’s actions investigated

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants an investigation into whether the Bush administration broke the law when it fired a group of federal prosecutors.

She says that what she calls the politicizing of the Justice Department cannot go unreviewed.

House Democrats last week recommended a criminal investigation to see if administration officials broke the law in the name of national security. The report cited the interrogation of foreign detainees, warrantless wiretaps, retribution against critics, manipulation of intelligence and the fired prosecutors.

Democrats seek to repeal tax breaks for banks

House Democrats’ version of the $825 billion recession rescue package would end billions of dollars in tax breaks the Bush administration quietly gave to banks last fall.

Already almost exclusive beneficiaries of a $700 billion Wall Street bailout, banks are largely left out of the House stimulus package that President-elect Barack Obama wants passed quickly through Congress. Those getting financial bailout money wouldn’t even be eligible for one of the main business tax breaks aimed at priming the economic pump.

Holder says waterboarding is torture

Attorney General-nominee Eric Holder Jr. forcefully broke from the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies Thursday, declaring that waterboarding is torture and pledging to prosecute some Guantanamo Bay detainees in U.S. courts.

It was the latest signal that President-elect Barack Obama will chart a new course in combatting terrorism. As recently as last week, Vice President Dick Cheney defended waterboarding, a harsh interrogation tactic that simulates drowning, saying it provided valuable intelligence.

Roland Burris sworn in as new Senator

Roland Burris took his place as Barack Obama’s successor in the Senate on Thursday, ending a standoff that embarrassed the president-elect and fellow Democrats who initially resisted the appointment by impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

"I do," Burris said with a grin as Vice President Dick Cheney administered the oath of office to the former Illinois attorney general who takes Obama’s place as the Senate’s only black member.

Hillary Clinton’s confirmation: ‘No problema’

With no daylight showing between congressional Democrats and the next administration’s foreign policy team, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to be swiftly endorsed by a Senate panel as President-elect Barack Obama’s new secretary of state.

Indications from both parties this week were that Clinton would win a near-unanimous vote Thursday in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Clinton navigates confirmation hearing minefield

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton smoothly took on policy questions, from the acute to the arcane, in a gentle job interview to be the nation’s top diplomat, but could not dispel tougher questions about whether her husband’s charity work poses an ethical conflict.

Her confirmation as secretary of state is not in doubt, and she could be on the job as soon as President-elect Barack Obama’s first full day in office. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee planned to vote on the selection Thursday.

Reid screwed the pooch on Burris seating

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was eager to hit the ground running in 2009. Then, with the cameras rolling, he planted his first step firmly on an upturned rake.

Thwack.

We can only hope that the Lesson of Roland Burris left a lasting impression on the Senate leader. But so far, all that we have seen is that the Democratic leader has much to learn about leading his newer, stronger majority in a new age that is driven not by the old muscle politics, but by the power of streaming video politics.

Senate leaders agree to seat Burris

Reversing course, Senate Democrats grudgingly accepted embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s hand-selected Senate appointee, Roland Burris, as they sought to break an impasse over President-elect Barack Obama’s former seat.

The new Illinois senator is expected to be sworn into office later this week.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois made the announcement in a joint statement Monday, saying Burris "is now the senator-designate from Illinois and, as such, will be accorded all the rights and privileges of a senator-elect."