Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

House committees limit NSA spying on Americans

The House crossed a major hurdle in its efforts to rein in the National Security Agency when two oversight committees agreed this week on a proposal to end the agency’s practice of collecting Americans’ phone records and the bulk collection of all other records, such as credit card data. The House could vote on the bill as early as this month. It was the first sign of consensus in the bitterly divided House on the controversial NSA surveillance programs since the spying was disclosed nearly a year ago. President Barack Obama has called for similar changes but is relying on
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Dems may stay away from Benghazi show

Divided House Democrats are weighing whether to participate in a new investigation of the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, or boycott the election-year inquiry of a tragedy they accuse Republicans of politicizing. Party leaders will meet with rank-and-file members Friday to decide the next step after Republicans the day before rammed through a resolution creating a special select committee to examine the Sept. 11, 2012, assault. Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed when militants stormed the diplomatic outpost. The vote Thursday to create the special committee was 232-186. Seven Democrats, many of whom face tough re-elections in
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Is HHS nominee Burwell ready to face the Senate?

President Barack Obama’s nominee to take over the federal health care agency — and assume responsibility for his health care overhaul — is making her first appearance before senators who will help decide her confirmation. Sylvia Mathews Burwell was to testify Thursday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the first of two Senate committees that will hold hearings on her nomination. Burwell is Obama’s choice to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who resigned last month after presiding over the passage of the health law and the disastrous rollout of the federal enrollment website. Sebelius
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Dems unhappy with GOP Benghazi probe plans

House Democrats insist that a special select committee on the deadly 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, be evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, raising doubts about their participation in the election-year investigation of the Obama administration. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner late Tuesday urging him to reconsider plans to put seven Republicans and five Democrats on the panel. The House is expected to vote Thursday on the resolution establishing the committee, over Democratic objections. “Another partisan review that serves only to politicize these attacks is
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Republicans zero in on Benthazi raid questons

Republicans are sharpening their focus on the deadly 2012 Benghazi, Libya, attack as midterm elections loom closer, with a likely vote this week on establishing a select House committee to investigate the Obama administration’s response. Ongoing wrangling over a panel’s subpoena of Secretary of State John Kerry will further highlight Benghazi, as could multiple hearings ostensibly designed to examine other subjects. The GOP-led House is planning the vote sometime in the next several days to authorize the committee, which would provide Republicans with a high-profile forum to criticize President Barack Obama and his team over the next several months. The
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White House press corps honors black reporter

Harry McAlpin was standing outside the Oval Office, moments away from becoming the first black reporter to attend a presidential press conference, when one of his contemporaries approached with a deal. Stay out here, the reporter told McAlpin. The other White House correspondents would share their notes, and McAlpin would have a chance to become an official member of the correspondents association. McAlpin marched into the Oval Office anyway. Afterward, President Franklin Roosevelt shook McAlpin’s hand and said, “I’m glad to see you, McAlpin, and very happy to have you here.” McAlpin, who became a fixture at the White House
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GOP derails minimum wage increase in Senate

Senate Republicans derailed a Democratic drive Wednesday to raise the federal minimum wage, blocking a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s economic plans and ensuring the issue will be a major feature of this fall’s congressional elections. Facing the threat of a GOP Senate takeover, Democrats have forced votes on a procession of bills designed to amplify their message of economic fairness. Republican senators accused Democrats of playing politics by pushing a minimum wage measure designed to lure voters but too expensive for employers and sure to result in lost jobs and higher inflation. “This is about trying to make this
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Boehner to GOP: Immigration reform? No way

House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday reassured fellow Republican lawmakers that he will not push them to pass immigration reform and said he was just teasing last week when he criticized his caucus’s reluctance on the issue. Boehner held a closed-door meeting with Republican House members to cool their anger over remarks he made last Thursday at a Rotary Club luncheon in his Ohio district. In that widely reported speech, Boehner described the attitude of other House Republicans as: “Don’t make me do this.” After Tuesday’s meeting in Washington to address the issue, Boehner told reporters: “You all know me.
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House says ‘nada’ to military benefit cuts

Congress is saying “not so fast” to a Pentagon proposal to cut subsidies to military commissaries where service members and their families shop at a reduced cost, as well as other proposed changes to benefits. The House Armed Services Committee unveiled its draft legislation Tuesday, and Republicans and Democrats on the military personnel subcommittee are expected to approve it Wednesday. It’s one of the initial steps as Congress begins crafting its annual defense policy bill. Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the committee, said the legislation rejects Pentagon proposals “that would have increased out-of-pocket costs for military families, including
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House trying to restore spending bill process

Lawmakers embarrassed by their inability to pass their annual spending bills the old-fashioned way are trying to get the broken budget process back on track. After the partial government shutdown last fall and a take-it-or-leave-it vote in January on a massive, catchall appropriations bill, the GOP House and Democratic-led Senate are both pledging free and open debates on the $1 trillion portion of the federal budget that’s under Congress’ control each year. First up is a bipartisan $71 billion measure funding the Veterans Affairs Department and construction projects on military bases. The measure hits the House floor on Wednesday and
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