Capitol Hillbillies

FBI, IRS raid Senator’s home

Alaska GOP Sen. Ted Stevens, a king of pork barrel politics, is under investigation for taking bribes from an oil-services company.

FBI and IRS agents searched Stevens’ palatial vacation enclave home in Girdwood, Alaska, and seized an undisclosed records.

Agents want to know more about Stevens’ ties to VECO, an oil service company where two executives recently admitted paying $400,000 in bribes to Alaskan lawmakers.

Law enforcement sources say Stevens received bribes from the company.

Thanks for the mammaries

Soldiers may still be dying in Iraq and Congress may remain in gridlock but the talk of the town in Washington is still Hillary Clinton’s cleavage.

Clinton’s cleavage controversy continues unabated. Did she or didn’t she flash a little too much bosom in a July 18 campaign debate? Should anybody care? Is this really important?

Important enough to dominate talk shows and news coverage. Google News reports 186 stories about it over the weekend.

Some say how a potential President dresses is important. Others, however, say they don’t give a hoot about Hillary’s hooters.

Voters fed up with Democratic failures

The new Democratic leadership of Congress rode into Washington last fall with a voter mandate for change.

Seven months later, many of those same voters want the Democrats tarred and feathered and rode out of town on a rail.

For seven months, the Democrats’ reign in the seat of power has been a study in frustration and a college course on failed expectations. Their razor-thin majority is not enough to override President George W. Bush’s veto pen and they have found themselves constantly beaten by a President with the lowest approval ratings in history.

Congress passes Homeland security bill

Congress sent President Bush legislation Friday to intensify anti-terror efforts in the U.S., shifting money to high-risk states and cities and expanding screening of air and sea cargo to stave off future Sept. 11-style attacks.

The measure carries out major recommendations of the independent 9/11 Commission.

The bill, passed by the House on a 371-40 vote, ranks among the top accomplishments of the six-month-old Democratic Congress. The Senate approved the measure late Thursday by 85-8, and the White House said the president would sign the bill.

House tells Justice Dept. to ignore law

The House on Thursday voted to prevent the Justice Department from enforcing certain advertising restrictions in campaign finance law.

The vote came one month after the Supreme Court loosened some of the legal barriers that Congress had placed on corporate- and union-financed television ads.

The 215-205 vote would prevent criminal enforcement of any of the law’s advertising provisions. It would not affect any civil penalties imposed against violators by the Federal Election Commission. Most campaign finance infractions are handled by the FEC.

Did Democrats aim too high?

Beset by poor approval ratings and internal differences, congressional Democrats hope to give themselves a triumphant send-off when Congress departs on a monthlong summer vacation.

“They can’t possibly do all the things they want to do,” counters Rep. John Boehner, the House Republican leader.

Perhaps not.

But Democratic leaders, seven months in power, have set an ambitious agenda for themselves for the next 10 days, even momentarily dispatching their efforts to end the Iraq war to the background.

Senate passes national security bill

The House is expected to pass a homeland security bill and send it to President Bush as early as today. Last night, the Senate approved the package of security measures recommended by the 9/11 Commission, shifting more federal money to high-risk states and cities and requiring more stringent screening of air and sea cargo.

The measure passed by a 85-8 vote.

House passage would give Democrats a much-needed legislative victory just a week before Congress adjourns for its August recess.

House committee votes for contempt

The House Judiciary Committee approved a contempt of Congress citation Wednesday against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and one-time Counsel Harriet Miers, setting up a constitutional confrontation over the firings of federal prosecutors.

The Justice Department said it would block the citation from prosecution because information Congress is demanding is protected by executive privilege. Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House effort was important nonetheless.

Another example of Democratic failure

The return of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to the Senate Judiciary Committee is in some ways the story of Democratic failure to drum up enough pressure to force President Bush’s hand.

Not so long ago, Republicans as well as Democrats thought they’d seen Gonzales sit before them for the last time as attorney general. There was no way Gonzales could survive the controversy over the prosecutor firings, nor the exposure of other missteps, they said. Certainly he could not resist the widespread calls for his resignation — one, from a Republican — to his face as the proceedings were broadcast live.

Reid: Dems will keep trying on Iraq

Senate Democrats vowed Sunday to press ahead with legislation on pulling US troops from Iraq, despite a major defeat last week in their efforts to pass a bill.

“After May 1 of next year, all American troops should be out of there except those dealing with counterterrorism, training Iraqis and protecting our assets,” top Senate Democrat Harry Reid told CBS television on Sunday.

“Academics and military people say Iraq is in chaos right now,” he continued.