Capitol Hillbillies

Democrats promise new war showdown

Anti-war Senate Democrats Tuesday plotted a new showdown with US President George W. Bush over Iraq, but admitted they had erred by making supporters think they could end the war.

“On Iraq, we’re going to hold the president’s feet to the fire,” said Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, saying debate would start in two weeks time.

Less than a month after bowing to Bush’s demands and approving a 100 billion dollar war budget, Democratic leaders pledged a new challenge to the White House on withdrawal timelines, troop readiness and curtailing the president’s authority to continue the fight.

Immigration divides Congress, parties

The hot button issue of immigration divides both the nation and Capitol Hill as few things do — even the divisive war in Iraq.

Political parties not only feud with each other on immigration. They fight amongst themselves and discussions of the issues often turn into shouting matches.

‘No confidence’ in Gonzales? Almost

Even with seven defections from their ranks Senate Republicans managed to block a non-binding “no confidence resolutions against embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Monday.

The measure fell seven votes short with 53 Senators, a simple majority, voting against President Bush’s appointee.

Lieberman: Bomb Iran now

Sen. Joseph Lieberman said Sunday the United States should consider a military strike against Iran because of Tehran's involvement in Iraq.

"I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq," Lieberman said. "And to me, that would include a strike over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers."

Democrats cut deal with NRA over guns

In what Congress-watchers call a "stunning breakthrough," the powerful National Rife Association and Senior Democrats on Capitol Hill have cut a deal that will strengthen background checks on those buying firearms.

Deep divide derails immigration bill

The Senate divisions that derailed a White House-backed immigration bill — for now, at least — mirror the U.S. society's deep differences over the issue, according to polling data, lawmakers and analysts. Those gaps will challenge any effort to get the measure back on track.

While most Senate Democrats appeared to back the bill, several liberal members said it did too little to keep immigrant families together and protect jobs for U.S.-born workers.

The split in the Republican Party was more obvious. The issue pitted social conservatives, who insisted that illegal immigrants not be granted "amnesty" for entering the country unlawfully, against business groups hungry for willing workers in hotels, restaurants, construction sites and other comparatively low-wage, low-skilled workplaces.

Lawmakers want tests of body armor

The Pentagon's unwillingness to consider body armor that would better protect soldiers in Iraq has prompted action by Capitol Hill lawmakers who want independent tests to determine whether or not soldiers are getting the best protection in the field.

In a case where the military may be putting soldiers at risk in order to protect a favored defense contractor has angered lawmakers, soldiers and families of soldiers.

And it is not the first time that the Pentagon has placed protecting a fatcat deal above the lives of the men and women who serve in war.

Dems widen probe of corrupt lobbyist

House Democrats are expanding their investigation into ties between jailed GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the White House and have contacted several Abramoff associates recently about testifying to Congress.

Wyoming Sen. Craig Thomas dead at 74

Sen. Craig Thomas, a conservative Republican from Wyoming, has died after a fight with leukemia that was diagnosed last year just as he was elected for a third term. He was 74.

The senator's family said he died Monday evening at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. The family had said earlier in the day that his cancer had been resistant to a second round of chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia.

Thomas was hospitalized with pneumonia just before the 2006 election, but won with 70 percent of the vote, monitoring the election from his hospital bed.