Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

GOP problem: What to do with Sotomayor

Senate Republicans are in a quandary over the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, aiming to raise pointed questions about her record without angering increasingly influential Hispanic voters.

Senator John Cornyn exemplifies the Republican dilemma over Sotomayor, who is the daughter of Puerto Rican parents who seems certain to be confirmed by the Democratic-led Senate as the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.

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More ethics problems for Democrats

Lawmakers who steer money and contracts to favored companies and receive campaign contributions in return could face a House ethics committee investigation.

The ethics committee's Democratic chairman and its ranking Republican said Thursday that the committee has been reviewing the practice — which came under scrutiny because of a Justice Department criminal investigation of a now-defunct lobbying firm, PMA.

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Senators live high on taxpayer tab

While talking about the need to bring spending under control, some members of the Senate live high on the hog and send the bill to American taxpayers, an investigation by Politico has found.

The web site's investigation found Republican Senator John Cornyn racked up the highest bills for travel with Democratic colleague Chuck Schumer coming in second. Together, Cornyn and Schumer spend 10 times more than some other Senators.

Both Senators prefer private, chartered planes to commercial air transportation and think nothing of using taxpayer dollars for the privilege.

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Sotomayor hearings set to start July 13

Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor will start on July 13, a top Democrat announced on Tuesday, and a Republican predicted she would be easily confirmed as the first Hispanic on the highest court in the United States.

Rejecting calls by other Republicans for more time to review her record, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy made a Senate speech announcing the date for his panel to begin publicly questioning the nominee under oath.

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Democrats considering tax on health benefits

Despite a less-than-rousing reaction from the Obama administration, House Democrats are considering a new tax on employer-provided health benefits to help pay for expanding coverage to the uninsured.

Several officials also said an outline of emerging legislation envisions a requirement for all individuals to purchase affordable coverage, with an unspecified penalty for those who refuse and a waiver for those who cannot cover the cost.

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GOP will question Sotomayor’s objectivity

The Alabama senator leading the GOP's vetting of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor said the American tradition of impartial courts is "under attack" and the pivotal question in her nomination should be whether she allows personal views to color her decisions as a judge.

Delivering the Republican Party's weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, Sen. Jeff Sessions didn't say if he thinks Sotomayor crosses that line. But he raised questions that reflect a growing chorus of GOP criticism that Sotomayor sees her role as something more than an impartial umpire.
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Public health insurance plan threatens deal

President Barack Obama's hopes for a bipartisan health deal seemed in jeopardy Thursday as GOP senators protested his renewed support for a new public health insurance plan, and a key Democratic chairman declared that such a plan would likely be in the Senate's bill.

A public plan that would compete with private insurers is opposed by nearly all Republicans. Obama long has supported it, but he had avoided going into detail about his health goals, leaving the specifics to Congress and emphasizing hopes for a bipartisan bill.

That changed when Obama released a letter Wednesday to two Senate Democrats saying he believed strongly in the need for a new public plan.
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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.

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