Capitol Hillbillies

Vacations? During a war?

Lawmakers divided over whether to keep U.S. troops in Iraq are finding common ground on at least one topic: They are furious that Iraqi politicians are considering a lengthy break this summer.

"If they go off on vacation for two months while our troops fight — that would be the outrage of outrages," said Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn.

GOP Rep settles back taxes

Arizona Rep. Rick Renzi avoided federal campaign penalties by paying $323,830 in back taxes last year to reassure regulators that loans to his political committee came from his own pocket.

Lawmakers want gun data

When handguns with bullets that can pierce body armor showed up on the streets of New Jersey, Sen. Frank Lautenberg asked federal regulators to share data that could help local police figure out where the weapons were coming from.

That information, the New Jersey Democrat was told, is off-limits.

Senators wary of Bush wiretap proposal

Citing FBI abuses and the attorney general’s troubles, senators peppered top Justice and intelligence officials Tuesday with skeptical questions about their proposal to revise the rules for spying on Americans.

The stage is set

Democratic congressional leaders on Tuesday sent Iraq legislation setting timetables for U.S. troop withdrawals to President Bush and a certain veto.

On the fourth anniversary of the president’s “Mission Accomplished” speech, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that Bush “has put our troops in the middle of a civil war. A change of course is needed.”

Is compromise possible?

President Bush and congressional Democrats don’t agree about much when it comes to the Iraq war, but one of the areas where they disagree the least is the need to measure the Baghdad government’s progress.

That makes the issue ripe for negotiation in an evolving veto struggle over the war, even though the administration and its critics are fiercely at odds when it comes to how — and whether — to enforce these so-called benchmarks for self-defense and democracy in Iraq’s post-Saddam Hussein era.

A bitter debate turns increasingly nasty

Any pretense of civility vanished long ago in the bitter debate over funding of President George W. Bush’s failed Iraq war.

With both sides of the issue firmly entrenched, Capitol Hill insiders see little chance for compromise and progress as the funding bill faces a certain veto from Bush today because it sets a timetable for withdrawal of troops.