Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

Senate lowered secrecy curtain over debt limit vote

Financial markets were watching, the retirement accounts of millions of Americans on the line. Nervous senators were watching too, well aware that political fortunes could be on the line. So on perhaps the most important vote of the year, the Senate did something extraordinary this week: It tried to keep the vote tally secret until the outcome was assured. As lawmakers voted Wednesday on must-pass legislation to increase the government’s debt limit, they dropped the parliamentary equivalent of a curtain on the voting as it was in progress. Typically, roll-call votes in the Senate play out in a very public
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Ted Cruz’s extremism again embarrasses Republicans

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz sat with eyes glued to his mobile device as the chaos he provoked ensnared his Republican leaders on the Senate floor. Legislation to raise the nation’s borrowing authority with no strings attached was short of the 60 votes it needed to advance — a threshold Cruz demanded — and without a few conversions, Republicans would be blamed for its failure. The stock market was watching. After what seemed like an eternity, a grim-faced Sen. Mitch McConnell, the party leader who faces a tea party challenge back home, finally voted yes. An equally grim-faced Sen. John Cornyn,
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The tea party is steaming mad at Mitch McConnell

The tea party is teeing off on Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. Matt Bevin, who is challenging McConnell in the GOP primary in Kentucky, seized on the senator’s vote Wednesday to move ahead on legislation to increase the nation’s debt limit, describing it as a blank check for President Barack Obama. The tea party-backed businessman and conservative groups signaled they won’t let Senate Republican incumbents forget the vote this election year. “Kentucky and America can literally no longer afford such financially reckless behavior from the likes of Mitch McConnell,” Bevin said in a statement. Setting the vote in motion was
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Senate approves debt limit increase

Legislation to raise the federal debt limit and prevent a crippling government default cleared Congress on Wednesday with an awkward assist from top Senate Republican leaders who were forced into a politically treacherous vote engineered by tea party favorite Ted Cruz. The Texas Republican’s maneuver forced several GOP colleagues, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, into a reluctant vote against a filibuster, helping the measure along. It’s a vote likely to cause grief for McConnell, who is facing a primary election challenges. On a day of legislative drama, the key vote clearing the way for final action was held
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Senate plans quick vote on debt limit hike

The Senate could approve a one-year extension of the U.S. debt limit by mid-afternoon on Wednesday after Republicans and Democrats agreed to shorten debate time ahead of an approaching snowstorm, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said. The Democratic-controlled Senate at 1:45 p.m. ET will take a procedural vote on the “clean” debt ceiling hike passed on Tuesday by the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold the majority. Should the legislation receive the required 60 votes to advance, the Senate will move immediately to a final vote on the measure, said Reid, a Democrat. The vote would likely occur between 2
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Boehner’s retreat leads to new debt limit approval

It was once the backbone of the House Republican majority — the hard-line stand that brought President Barack Obama to the negotiating table and yielded more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction. On Tuesday, it abruptly vanished, the victim of Republican disunity and a president determined not to bargain again. During the summer budget negotiations in 2011, House Speaker John Boehner had insisted that any increase in the nation’s borrowing limit be matched dollar for dollar with spending cuts. It became the “Boehner Rule,” a mantra of fiscal discipline. And while it didn’t always live up to its tit-for-tat formula,
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House approves ‘clean’ debt limit extension

The House of Representatives narrowly approved a one-year extension of federal borrowing authority on Tuesday after Republicans caved into President Barack Obama’s demands to allow a debt limit increase without any conditions. The 221-201 vote, carried mainly by Democrats, marked a dramatic shift from the confrontational fiscal tactics House Republicans have used over the past three years, culminating in last October’s 16-day government shutdown. It came after House Republicans repudiated House Speaker John Boehner’s latest plan to link an increase in the $17.2 trillion borrowing cap to a repeal of planned cuts to military pensions. Although Boehner called his decision
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Fed chair Yellen faces first test before Congress

The health of the U.S. economy and the extraordinary and controversial measures the Federal Reserve has taken to support it will top the agenda on Tuesday when Janet Yellen testifies to lawmakers for the first time as head of the Federal Reserve. Yellen, in just her second week on the job since succeeding Ben Bernanke earlier this month, will want to reinforce the central bank’s determination to halt the money-printing presses later this year while ensuring investors that a rise in interest rates remains a long way off, economists say. She is expected to strike a tone of cautious optimism
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Rubio proposes higher education overhaul

Addressing what he calls a “growing opportunity gap” between people with and without advanced educations, Sen. Marco Rubio is calling for state-accredited alternatives to four-year colleges and income-based repayments for college loans. The Florida senator and possible 2016 Republican presidential contender also says Congress should establish an independent accrediting agency to assess free courses offered over the Internet and elsewhere as transferrable credits. “Those with the right advanced education are making more than ever. But those that do not are falling farther and farther behind,” Rubio said in remarks prepared for an education forum Monday at Miami Dade College. “The
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Possible vote on raising U.S. debt in coming week

Republicans who control the U.S. House of Representatives have penciled in a possible vote next week on legislation to raise the debt limit, a sign that they are moving closer to deciding whether to try to attach conditions to any increase. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Friday left a spot open in his weekly House floor schedule for “possible consideration of the legislation related to the debt limit” on Wednesday. A temporary extension of the $17 trillion U.S. debt ceiling expires at midnight on Friday, forcing the U.S. Treasury Department to resort to extraordinary cash management measures to ensure
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