Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

Finally, a deal on VA health care fix?

After more than six weeks of sometimes testy talks, House and Senate negotiators have agreed on a compromise plan to fix a veterans health program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records covering up delays. The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have scheduled a news conference Monday afternoon to unveil a plan expected to authorize billions in emergency spending to lease 27 new clinics, hire more doctors and nurses and make it easier for veterans who can’t get prompt appointments with VA doctors to obtain outside care. An agreement reached Sunday by Rep. Jeff
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House tells Obama: ‘No troops in Iraq without our approval’

The House overwhelmingly passed a resolution Friday that would bar President Barack Obama from sending forces to Iraq in a “sustained combat role” without congressional approval, a bill with greater symbolic than legal effect. The nonbinding measure hasn’t been debated in the Senate. Its language opens up several questions related to the Constitution’s separation of powers between executive and legislative branches, even if Obama and his top military advisers already have ruled out sending combat troops to help Iraq fight extremist insurgents. Friday’s legislation was approved by a 370-40 vote after Republican and Democratic lawmakers emphasized the need to reassert
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House Committee OKs lawsuit against Obama

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday took another step toward authorizing a lawsuit against President Barack Obama, claiming he has overstepped his executive powers in carrying out his landmark healthcare reform law. In a partisan vote of 7-4, the House Rules Committee approved the legislation, likely setting it up for consideration by the full House next week. The Republican initiative already has spawned a bitter debate with Democrats less than four months before mid-term elections that will determine the political control of Congress next year. Any lawsuit likely would take years to wind through federal courts. While
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More investigation into Sen. Walsh’s plagiarism

Sen. John Walsh remained steadfast Thursday amid an investigation into whether he plagiarized a research project required for a master’s degree, winning fresh backing from fellow Democrats in Montana and the governor who appointed him to the Senate earlier this year. The U.S. Army War College said in a statement late Thursday it will examine evidence that Walsh included both conclusions and verbatim passages from the writings of other scholars in his 2007 paper, known as a strategy research project. The college is in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. “The Army War College initiated its own analysis of the paper and determined this
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House, Senate take different routes on border problems

Senate Democrats and House Republicans are moving separately to slash President Barack Obama’s $3.7 billion emergency spending request for the border, but they’re unlikely to end up with a deal that could pass both chambers. Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski planned to unveil legislation Wednesday allocating $2.7 billion for more immigration judges, detention facilities and other resources on the South Texas border, where tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors have been arriving from Central America. That amounts to a $1 billion reduction from Obama’s request. But House Republicans were expected to go even further, with more limited spending that would
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Little hope for success for a gridlocked Congress

A gridlocked Congress failed to do the big things: overhauling the nation’s immigration system, reforming the loophole-cluttered tax code and stiffening background checks on gun buyers. Now it’s time to see whether it can just do the basics. With just two weeks before lawmakers’ sacrosanct August break, progress is decidedly mixed on several must-pass items due to Capitol Hill partisanship, heightened by midterm elections and the Obama administration’s conflicting signals to Congress. Lawmakers must find about $10 billion to keep highway projects on track through next spring, ease long wait times for veterans seeking health care and deal with a
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A 2008 immigration law dominates 2014 debate

Sen. Dianne Feinstein recalls turning on her television and seeing a young Chinese girl crying before a judge, without even an interpreter to help her after surviving a harrowing journey to the U.S. That was the genesis of a law six years ago that is now at the center of an immigration crisis at the nation’s Southern border. More than 57,000 youths, mostly from Central America, have crossed into the U.S. illegally since October. Fewer than 2,000 of them have been sent back. Immigration advocates and many Democrats insist on preserving what they describe as important protections in the 2008
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Congressional angst grows over Obama’s Afghan plan

Afghanistan’s disputed election and Iraq’s unraveling are giving members of Congress and U.S. allies in the region reason to think President Barack Obama should rethink his decision to withdraw virtually all Americans troops from Afghanistan by the close of 2016. The White House says Afghanistan is different from Iraq, mired in sectarian violence since shortly after U.S. troops left, and that the drawdown decision is a done deal. Some lawmakers, however, are uncomfortable with Obama’s plan, which responds to the American public’s war fatigue and his desire to be credited with pulling the U.S. from two conflicts. Ten senators, Republicans
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Child migration shifts immigration political focus

The surge of Central American children crossing the U.S. southern border has shifted the politics of immigration, weakening one of the most potent arguments Democrats plan to make against Republicans in November and in the next presidential election. In the past month, the number of Americans who rank immigration as the nation’s top problem has tripled in surveys conducted by Gallup — putting the issue on par with the economy and unemployment as the most frequently named issues facing the country. And this past week, a poll from Pew Research Center found a 5 percentage point drop in support for
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Child immigrant flow slow for now

The flood of children crossing the Mexican border illegally and without their parents has slowed down in recent weeks, two senior Obama administration officials said Friday. Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas have found fewer than 500 children crossing the border illegally this week, the officials said. Last month, agents arrested as many as 2,000 child immigrants a week. The Obama administration has been struggling to deal with a flood of more than 57,000 children traveling alone since Oct. 1. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said earlier this month that as many as 90,000 unaccompanied
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