Capitol Hillbillies

Minimum wage hike stalled by Iraq standoff

Increasing the minimum wage should be easy for a Congress controlled by Democrats, especially with President Bush’s pledge of support.

But a $2.10 boost for America’s lowest-paid workers is again being delayed, this time in a tussle over whether to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq.

The non-stop campaign

042707murphy.jpgRep. Patrick Murphy hasn’t let the fact that he was elected to Congress in November put a stop to his campaigning.

Nearly every Monday since he took office in January, the 33-year-old freshman Democrat and Iraq war veteran has headed out to suburban Philadelphia train stations at dawn to greet voters. After that, he gets into his car for the three-hour drive to Capitol Hill.

“You don’t win until you win re-election,” Murphy said one recent morning as he introduced himself to bleary-eyed commuters, many of whom congratulated him on his election victory. “The first one’s to get your foot in the door.”

Senate passes Iraq timetable

In a bold wartime challenge to President Bush, the Democratic-controlled Senate voted Thursday to begin withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by Oct. 1 with a goal of a complete pullout six months later. The White House dismissed the legislation as "dead before arrival."

Iraq bill headed for a certain veto

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (AP)

Congress will send President George W. Bush an Iraq war spending bill next week that includes a withdrawal timeline. Bush will veto the bill and send it back to the Hill.

Another round of posturing on Capitol Hill while more American troops die and a deadly war continues in a far away land.

Divided House passes troop withdrawal bill


Sens. Carl Levin & Jack Reed after meeting with generals (AP)

A sharply divided House brushed aside a veto threat Wednesday and passed legislation that would order President Bush to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq by Oct. 1.

Dems: ‘We have the votes on Iraq’

Gen. David Petraeus, second from right, the top U.S. commander in Iraq walks on Capitol Hill Wednesday between meetings with members of Congress to discuss the latest on the war in Iraq. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)

Democrats brushed off a White House veto threat and pleas for patience from the top U.S. commander in Iraq Wednesday and pushed toward a vote demanding that troops begin coming home this fall.

Their insistence guaranteed a historic showdown with President Bush, the first on the war since Democrats took control of Congress in January.

"Our troops are mired in a civil war with no clear enemy and no clear strategy for success," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

Dems claim they have votes for Iraq withdrawal

Senator Harry Reid and Vice President Dick Cheney (AP Photo)House Democratic leaders predict they will have enough votes to pass legislation requiring U.S. troops to begin leaving Iraq by Oct. 1 and send it on to President Bush for his promised veto.

Several House members said they would go along with the bill negotiated with the Senate in a bid for party unity despite their desire for an earlier, binding withdrawal date.

Scandal-ridden Rep gives up committee posts

042407renzi.jpgAn Arizona congressman temporarily stepped down from two more House committees on Tuesday, less than a week after the FBI raided his wife’s insurance business.

Rep. Rick Renzi announced in a statement Tuesday that he was taking a leave of absence from the House Financial Services and Natural Resources committees. He stepped down from the House Intelligence Committee last week.