Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

House ready to approve curbs on NSA spying

The House is poised to take the first significant step to change the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of American phone records, a compromise bill that is displeasing many civil liberties activists. The USA Freedom Act would codify a proposal made in January by President Barack Obama, who said he wanted to end the NSA’s practice of collecting the “to and from” records of nearly every American landline telephone call under a program that searched the data for connections to terrorist plots abroad. The bill, scheduled for a House vote Thursday, instructs the phone companies to hold the records for
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Does anyone care who controls Congress?

Who cares which party controls Congress? Only about half of Americans. The other 46 percent, not so much, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. Ask people whom they would rather see in charge on Capitol Hill, and Republicans finish in a dead heat with “doesn’t matter.” Democrats fare only a little better: 37 percent would prefer their leadership, compared with 31 percent each for the GOP and whatever. “I’ve never really noticed any difference in my life depending on which party is in,” said Bob Augusto, 39, an oil refinery worker in Woodstown, New Jersey. He doesn’t expect to vote
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White House pissed over defense bill in Congress

The White House is escalating an election-year dispute with Congress over military spending as lawmakers bucked the Pentagon and spared favorite ships and aircraft despite diminishing budgets. One day after a veto threat, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough met privately with House Democrats on Tuesday and criticized the $601 billion defense authorization bill for parochial changes as the Defense Department deals with smaller budgets. Projected defense spending has been reduced after a decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and amid congressional deficit hawks demand for less federal dollars. The House began three days of debate Tuesday on the policy
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Republican House member pushes immigration vote

Defying House Republican leaders, a GOP congressman on moved toward forcing an election-year decision on his immigration legislation. Rep. Jeff Denham of California filed his bill, known as the ENLIST Act, as an amendment to the sweeping defense policy measure that the House will consider this week. The measure would create a path to citizenship for immigrants who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children and serve in the military. The bill “provides an avenue for those who want to perform the ultimate act of patriotism — serving their county — to earn legal status,” Denham said in a
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California Republicans cite immigration reform support

Republican Rep. David Valadao says he’s not worried that Congress’ failure to pass immigration legislation will hurt his prospects for re-election to a district in California’s agricultural heartland. Same goes for GOP Rep. Jeff Denham, who represents a neighboring district in the state’s San Joaquin Valley. Still, the California congressmen are making sure voters know they support an immigration overhaul. They’re aware that Democrats will try to turn the congressional gridlock into an advantage during this year’s midterm elections. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $300,000 on television ads in Valadao’s district, noting that he is the son of immigrants.
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Another setback for immigration reform efforts

House Republican leaders intervened Friday to prevent a vote on immigration legislation, dealing a severe blow to election-year efforts to overhaul the dysfunctional system. The move came after a Republican congressman from California announced plans to try to force a vote next week, over strong conservative opposition, on his measure creating a path to citizenship for immigrants who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children and serve in the military. Rep. Jeff Denham labeled his bill the ENLIST Act and said he would seek a vote as an amendment to the popular annual defense bill, the National Defense Authorization
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Harry Reid opposes Obama nominee for federal judge

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, one of the Obama administration’s staunchest allies in Congress, announced his opposition Thursday to Michael Boggs’ nomination to the federal bench, dealing a strong if not fatal blow to the former Georgia state lawmaker’s confirmation hopes. “Somebody should have looked a little more deeply into his record,” Reid said of Boggs, nominated to the U.S. District Court in Georgia. He faced sharp questioning at a recent confirmation hearing into his past support for state proposals to post information online about doctors who perform abortions and to keep the Confederate battle emblem on the Georgia flag.
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Congress unhappy with slow response to VA problems

Patience is wearing thin in Congress as lawmakers confront allegations of treatment delays and falsified patient-appointment reports at health centers run by the Veterans Affairs Department. A former clinic director says dozens of veterans died while awaiting treatment at the Phoenix VA hospital. Reports of problems at VA medical facilities date back at least 14 years, and in each case were followed by promises of action, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said. “We have come to the point where we need more than good intentions,” Murray told VA Secretary Eric Shinseki at a hearing Thursday of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
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Obama aide selected to oversee Veterans Affairs review

President Barack Obama is dispatching one of his closest White House advisers to oversee a review of the beleaguered Veterans Affairs Department as the agency grapples with allegations of treatment delays and preventable deaths at a Phoenix veterans hospital. White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors will be temporarily assigned to the VA to work on a review focused on policies for patient safety rules and the scheduling of patient appointments, officials said Wednesday. The move signals Obama’s growing concern over problems at the department, particularly recent reports that hospital administrators in Phoenix kept an off-the-books list to conceal
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Partisan gridlock saps energy efficiency outcome

Days after President Barack Obama touted executive actions aimed at increasing energy efficiency, a bill with similar goals is expected to fall victim to partisan gridlock in the Senate. A bipartisan bill to promote many of the same efficiency goals Obama touted Friday in California is expected to go down in defeat Monday amid a dispute over the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Co-sponsored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the energy bill would tighten efficiency guidelines for new federal buildings and provide tax incentives to make homes and commercial buildings more efficient. The measure is widely popular
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