Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

Unemployment fight first battle of an election year

The struggle in Washington over whether to renew expired jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed is as much about providing aid to 1.3 million out-of-work Americans as it is about drawing the first political line of an election year. Tuesday’s unexpected vote in the Senate removing one obstacle to a three-month extension of aid attracted the support of six Republicans, illustrating the real-life and political pressures on some GOP lawmakers, including those from states with unemployment above the national average. Still, the legislation’s outcome is uncertain as Democrats, backed by the White House, and Republicans remain sharply divided over whether
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Uh oh. Former members of Congress want their jobs back

Some former members of Congress are hoping 2014 will be the year of the comeback. Congress may have public approval ratings hovering near record lows, but several Republicans who once served in the House are trying to recapture their old seats. Among Democrats, former Rep. Marjorie Margolies, who was bounced from office two decades ago after casting a decisive vote for President Bill Clinton’s budget plan, wants to represent the Philadelphia suburbs again. Entering the new year, Republicans see a more favorable political landscape with President Barack Obama’s political standing weakened after the botched rollout of his signature health care
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Finishing up a $1.1 trillion government spending bill

After weeks of secretive work, senior lawmakers on Capitol Hill are trying to put the finishing touches on a $1.1 trillion spending bill that would lay to rest last year’s budget battles. The goal is to finish writing the mammoth measure this week in anticipation of House and Senate votes before a Jan. 15 deadline to avert another government shutdown. The bill fills in thousands of details across the approximately one-third of the federal budget devoted to the day-to-day operations of federal agencies. It follows up on the budget pact negotiated by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and
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A last, perhaps futile, grasp at immigration reform

His agenda tattered by last year’s confrontations and missteps, President Barack Obama begins 2014 clinging to the hope of winning a lasting legislative achievement: an overhaul of immigration laws. It will require a deft and careful use of his powers, combining a public campaign in the face of protests over his administration’s record number of deportations with quiet, behind-the-scenes outreach to Congress, something seen by lawmakers and immigration advocates as a major White House weakness. In recent weeks, both Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, have sent signals that raised expectations among overhaul supporters that 2014 could still yield
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Unemployment showdown in Senate

His agenda tattered by last year’s confrontations and missteps, President Barack Obama begins 2014 clinging to the hope of winning a lasting legislative achievement: an overhaul of immigration laws. It will require a deft and careful use of his powers, combining a public campaign in the face of protests over his administration’s record number of deportations with quiet, behind-the-scenes outreach to Congress, something seen by lawmakers and immigration advocates as a major White House weakness. In recent weeks, both Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, have sent signals that raised expectations among overhaul supporters that 2014 could still yield
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Senate confirms Janet Yellin as new chairman of The Fed

The Senate confirmed Janet Yellen on Monday as the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve, elevating an advocate of fighting unemployment and a backer of the central bank’s efforts to spur the economy with low interest rates and massive bond purchases. Yellen, 67, will replace Ben Bernanke, who is stepping down after serving as chairman for eight years dominated by the Great Recession and the Fed’s efforts to combat it. Senators confirmed her by 56-26, with numerous absences caused by airline flight delays forced by arctic temperatures around much of the country. All 45 voting Democrats were joined by
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Unemployment, Fed top Congressional agenda

Back to work on Monday, Congress faces a hefty list of unfinished business and a politically driven agenda in an election year that will determine control of the House and Senate. President Barack Obama’s nomination of Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve and a three-month extension of benefits for the long-term unemployed are first up in Senate, with votes scheduled Monday night. The rare burst of bipartisanship last month produced a budget agreement, but lawmakers were unable to agree on extending federal benefits for an estimated 1.3 million Americans. The payments stopped on Dec. 28 and Democrats, led by
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Election year politics drives Congress in 2014

Congress returns to work Monday with election-year politics certain to shape an already limited agenda. Republicans intend to focus on every facet of President Barack Obama’s health care law. They see a political boost in its problem-plagued rollout as the GOP looks to maintain its House majority and seize control of the Democratic-led Senate. First up in the House, according to Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., is legislation addressing the security of personal data, part of his party’s effort “to protect the American people from the harmful effects of Obamacare.” Republicans also promise closer scrutiny of the administration’s tally of
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Can Obama buid any momentum with Congress?

President Barack Obama returns to Washington this weekend eager to test whether a modest budget deal passed in the waning days of 2013 can spark bipartisan momentum on Capitol Hill. As he opens his sixth year in office, he also faces legacy-defining decisions on the future of government surveillance programs and the American-led war in Afghanistan. Looming over it all will be the November congressional elections, Obama’s last chance to stock Capitol Hill with more Democratic lawmakers who could help him expand his presidential playing field. For Republicans, those contests are an opportunity to seize control of the Senate, which
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Democrats, Republicans repackage themselves

Both Republicans and Democrats are looking for fresh ways to pitch old arguments as they head into the final midterm election year of Barack Obama’s presidency. Eager to capitalize as the president’s job approval rating hovers in the low 40s, Republicans are looking to hammer the clumsy implementation of Obama’s health care overhaul and bemoan an economy that, while improving, still grows too slowly. They’re already painting Democrats as fiscally irresponsible underlings of an increasingly unpopular president whose government creates more problems than it solves. Democrats say they’ll run as the party of average Americans and paint Republicans as out-of-touch
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