Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

Scaled back goals on gun control

Democratic worries about this November’s elections, a lack of Senate votes and House opposition are forcing congressional gun-control supporters to significantly winnow their 2014 agenda, a year after lawmakers scuttled President Barack Obama’s effort to pass new curbs on firearms. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., recently said he needs additional votes before revisiting a proposed expansion of gun sale background checks that the Senate derailed last April. That has left advocates of tighter gun curbs hoping Reid will allow votes on more modest proposals, such as one by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., to add convicted stalkers to the list
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Democrats eager to lambast Republicans on budget

Democrats in the U.S. Congress can hardly contain their glee over the latest Republican budget plan, even though they loathe the details of the blueprint that would cut programs for the poor and funding of medical research. Democrats view the document as a potent weapon in the November congressional elections and are betting that its emphasis on austerity and cuts to popular programs such as Medicare will provoke a backlash against Republicans. Crafted by Representative Paul Ryan, the leading Republican voice on fiscal policy, the budget proposes to eliminate annual deficits within 10 years. It won approval on Thursday in
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Adulterous Congressman refuses to resign

Louisiana Rep. Vance McAllister stayed out of sight as calls grew louder fromRepublicans back home demanding the GOP congressman’s resignation after he was caught on video kissing the wife of a friend. McAllister’s office vowed that he intended to stay in office — for now. As for questions about whether he would stand for re-election in November, those were dodged. Married and the father of five children, McAllister has not been seen in public since the video surfaced. He has missed several votes in the Capitol, including an important one on the Republican budget for the coming fiscal year. His
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House passes Ryan’s meaningless GOP budget plan

House Republicans rallied behind a slashing budget blueprint on Wednesday, passing a non-binding but politically imposing measure that promises a balanced federal ledger in 10 years with sweeping budget cuts and termination of health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The 219-205 vote on the budget outline takes a mostly symbolic swipe at the government’s chronic deficits. Follow-up legislation to actually implement the cuts isn’t in the offing. Twelve Republicans opposed the measure, and not a single Democrat supported it. The measure passed after a three-day debate that again exposed the hugely varying visions of the rival parties for
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House sets contempt vote on former IRS official

A House committee is voting on whether to hold a former Internal Revenue Service official in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions at a pair of hearings. The official, Lois Lerner, previously headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. Last May, after providing an opening statement, she refused to answer questions at a House Oversight Committee hearing about IRS agents improperly singling out tea party applications for extra scrutiny. She again refused to answer questions at hearing in March. The Oversight Committee was scheduled to vote Thursday on whether to hold her in contempt. Committee
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Republican hypocrisy rampant over ‘real’ spending cuts

When House Republicans pass Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget for a fourth year in a row this week, they’ll go on record again in favor of big spending cuts across a wide swath of programs, including Medicaid, food and farm aid and eliminating subsidies for Amtrak and airline flights to small cities. But a budget is only a non-binding framework. It can promise the sky, but to actually fulfill its pledges requires follow-up legislation. When the cuts turn real, lawmakers tend to lose their nerve, even some of the hardiest tea party conservatives. Virtually none of the bold promises of the
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Gender gap pay bill faces hard road in Senate

From the Capitol to the White House, Democrats are rallying behind campaign-season legislation curbing paycheck discrimination against women. The bill, partly designed to energize the party’s core voters, stands little chance of surviving in the Senate. In a showdown expected Wednesday, Senate Republicans seemed likely to derail the measure. Though Democrats run the chamber, they control 55 votes and needed at least five Republicans to halt a GOP blockade against it — a number they seemed unlikely to reach. The battle was suffused with the politics of an election year in which Republicans could capture Senate control and are expected
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Obama, Democrats focus on gender pay gap

President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress are making a concerted election-year push to draw attention to women’s wages, linking Obama executive actions with pending Senate legislation aimed at closing a compensation gender gap that favors men. Obama on Tuesday planned to sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against workers who discuss their pay. He also was to direct the Labor Department to issue new rules requiring federal contractors to provide compensation data that includes a breakdown by race and gender. The Democratic-controlled Senate this week planned to take up legislation that would make it
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Unemployment bill headed to the House

Election-year legislation to resume long-term jobless benefits is headed to the House, where a small band of dissident Republicans is leaning on Speaker John Boehner to permit a vote on resuming aid to more than 2 million victims of the Great Recession. “As many Americans continue to struggle without benefits, we respectfully request that the House immediately consider this bill or a similar measure,” seven House Republicans wrote Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Monday. They released their letter as the Senate voted 59-38 for the bill. The outlook remains cloudy, though, for legislation that took three months
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Pelosi: Cheney ‘set tone’ for CIA torture of prisoners

Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday that former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney “set a tone” for the interrogation and detention programs conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Pelosi said she believed Cheney, an influential figure in U.S. security policy under former President George W. Bush, was proud of the CIA’s actions during the Republican administration. “I do believe that during the Bush-Cheney administration, that Vice President Cheney set a tone and an attitude for the CIA,” Pelosi said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “Many people in
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