Capitol Hillbillies

Biden: Deal near on stimulus plan

The incoming Obama administration is nearing agreement with congressional Democrats on a huge emergency spending bill intended to jolt the weak U.S. economy and create 3 million jobs over two years, Vice President-elect Joe Biden said on Tuesday.

Asked whether an agreement on the shape of the stimulus bill would be reached by Christmas, Biden said: "I think we’re getting awful close to that."

But he refused to divulge how much the measure would cost taxpayers once the team of President-elect Barack Obama takes office on January 20.

What now for the auto industry?

Their efforts in Congress squashed, U.S. automakers are depending upon a reluctant White House to quickly provide a multibillion lifeline to help them avoid imminent collapse.

General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, which have said they could run out of cash within weeks, have few options left after the dramatic defeat in the Senate of a $14 billion bailout for the domestic auto industry.

Roadblocks for the Obama express

The back-and-forth over when to hold a confirmation hearing for Eric Holder, President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for attorney general, isn’t simply a matter of saving a date on the Senate calendar. It’s an early test of strength for minority Republicans on the eve of one-party Democratic rule in Washington.

Even with a Democrat in the White House and strong Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, Republicans are making clear that they won’t be ignored — and warning Obama that he shouldn’t expect swift confirmation of Holder or any other Cabinet choices.

Jesse Jackson Jr. entangled in Illinois scandal

Four days before the election, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich claimed someone came to him with a deal about filling Barack Obama’s soon-to-be open U.S. Senate seat.

"We were approached `pay to play,’" Blagojevich said as FBI agents listened intently. The candidate would raise $500,000 for Blagojevich, and an emissary would raise an additional $1 million, according to the conversation.

GOP opposition threatens auto bailout

A House-passed bill to speed $14 billion in loans to Detroit’s automakers stands on shaky ground in a bailout-weary Congress, undermined by Republican opposition that could derail the emergency aid in the Senate.

Republicans are challenging lame-duck President George W. Bush on the proposal, arguing that any support for the domestic auto industry should carry significant concessions from autoworkers and creditors and reject tougher environmental rules imposed by House Democrats.

Auto deal reached ‘in principle’

A government "car czar" with the power to force U.S. automakers into bankruptcy would dole out $15 billion in emergency loans to the failing industry under an emerging deal between the White House and congressional Democrats.

Auto bailout plan includes a ‘car czar’

Congressional Democrats and the White House worked to resolve their last disputes Monday over terms of a $15 billion bailout for U.S. auto makers — complete with a "car czar" to oversee the industry’s reinvention of itself — that’s expected to come to a vote as early as Wednesday.

Capitol Hill Roundup: Shoulda given more…

The automotive industry must be kicking itself for being chintzy when it comes to campaign contributions to Capitol Hill lawmakers.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, campaign finance reports show that the auto industry ranks 34th on the list of most-generous industry donors. That’s way behind Wall Street, which has had far more success than the Big Three in snagging federal bailout bucks from Washington in this time of financial woe.

The reports calculate that the securities and investment industry comes in 4th on the generosity scale, followed by the insurance industry at 9th, financial firms at 10th, and commercial banks at 13th.

In all, automotive manufacturers and dealers gave just under $9 million to congressional candidates this election cycle. In contrast, the securities and investment industry alone doled out more than $58 million.

Voters oust indicted Rep. Jefferson

In a year when national Republican fortunes took a turn for the worse, Louisiana delivered the GOP two seats in Congress in elections delayed by Hurricane Gustav.

Indicted Democratic U.S. Rep. William Jefferson was ousted Saturday from his New Orleans area district, while Republicans narrowly held on to the seat vacated by a retiring incumbent.

The wins followed Republicans’ reconquest of another House seat earlier this fall that had been lost to Democrats.

Caroline Kennedy eyes Senate seat

Caroline Kennedy, daughter of slain President John F. Kennedy, is considering pursuing the New York Senate seat Hillary Clinton will vacate to become secretary of state, The New York Times reported on Friday.

"I believe that she is considering it," the newspaper quoted Kennedy’s cousin, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., as saying, adding he had spoken to her about the matter during the past week.