Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

Senate sides with abusers on military sexual assault

Bowing to the Pentagon, the Senate agreed after impassioned debate Thursday to leave the authority to prosecute rapes and other serious crimes with military commanders in a struggle that highlighted the growing role of women in Congress. The vote was 55-45 in favor of stripping commanders of that authority, but that was short of the 60 necessary to move ahead on the legislation sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Her bill would have given the decision to take serious crimes to courts-martial to seasoned military trial lawyers, independent of the chain of command. The debate and vote were the culmination of
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Obama’s civil rights pick blocked in Senate

Should a lawyer be disqualified from public service for representing a client like a cop killer? The question arises after the Senate rejected President Barack Obama’s candidate to be the government’s chief civil rights attorney. The White House, attorneys and civil rights groups argued that a bipartisan vote Wednesday blocking Debo Adegbile from advancing toward confirmation set a troubling precedent that could dissuade lawyers with aspirations to serve in government from taking on unpopular clients or working for unpopular causes. “The fact that his nomination was defeated solely based on his legal representation of a defendant runs contrary to a
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House votes to delay Obamacare penalty

The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to delay for one year the tax penalty Americans will pay under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law if they decline to enroll in health coverage. The vote, part of a Republican election-year attack strategy against the 2010 healthcare law known as Obamacare, marked the 50th time House Republicans had passed legislation to try to repeal or dismantle it. The measure to delay the tax penalty passed by a vote of 250-160, with 27 Democrats joining with 223 Republicans to back the legislation. The bill is certain to go nowhere in the
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As expected, GOP slams Obama’s $3.9 trillion budget

Republicans are dismissing President Barack Obama’s new $3.9 trillion budget as nothing more than a Democratic manifesto for this fall’s congressional campaigns, but the fiscal plan is taking hits from another quarter too — anti-deficit groups. Obama on Tuesday sent lawmakers a 2015 budget top-heavy with provisions that have little chance of becoming law. They included $1 trillion in tax increases — mostly on the rich and corporations — and a collection of populist but mostly modest spending boosts for consumer protection, climate change research and improved technology in schools. It even trumpeted $2.2 trillion in 10-year deficit reduction, though
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Senator predits military sexual assault bill will pass

A senator who’s led efforts in Congress to address military sexual crimes says she thinks she has the votes to pass legislation that would remove commanders from sexual assault investigations. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand thinks the vote will come this week and she believes the measure will get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. The Pentagon estimates that 26,000 members of the military may have been sexually assaulted last year, though thousands were afraid to come forward. Gillibrand says victims are afraid of retaliation or are concerned that nothing will be done after reporting incidents of sexual assault. The
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Lerner to testify on IRS scrutiny of tea party

A House committee expects to hear firsthand from the former official at the center of what the government has acknowledged was the improper targeting of tea party groups claiming tax-exempt status. Lois Lerner headed the Internal Revenue Service division that handles applications for tax-exempt status before she retired last year. Last spring, she made brief comments before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee denying wrongdoing, and then invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer any questions. The committee chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, tells “Fox News Sunday” that Lerner’s lawyer “indicates” that Lerner will testify at Wednesday’s hearing. Her
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For her, one term in Congress was more than enough

It took barely a year in Congress for Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod to decide that she could do more for her California constituents by serving in county government. She’s one of 38 House members, including six from California, not to seek re-election in November, and during her single term, she grew frustrated quickly with the gridlock on Capitol Hill. Negrete McLeod has decided to run for a seat on the board of supervisors in sprawling San Bernardino County, which includes distant suburbs of Los Angeles as well as the Mojave Desert. Before winning election to Congress, she had served in
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Budgets? We don’t need no stinkin’ budgets

Democrats in the U.S. Senate won’t bother passing their own budget this year, arguing that a deal in December has already set spending levels for the 2015 fiscal year and “relitigating” it would create economic uncertainty. Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray said in a statement on Friday she would prefer to focus on promoting longer-term budget priorities for the Democratic Party, including measures to boost economic growth. The move will keep Democrats’ election-year fiscal message focused on President Barack Obama’s own 2015 budget request, due out on Tuesday, which will lay out his plans to shift spending to education,
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Harry Reid: Koch brothers are ‘un-American’

The Senate’s top Democrat criticized a pair of billionaire brothers in unusually harsh terms Wednesday, accusing the conservative duo of being “un-American,” spreading lies about President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and lacking a conscience. In a pair of appearances on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., became the latest Democrat this election year to denunciate Charles and David Koch — pronounced “Coke.” The brothers’ representatives said Reid’s attack was “disgraceful” and accused him of attacking people hurt by the 2010 health care law. Reid’s focus was on television ads that are being used against Democratic congressional candidates,
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Showdown vote on vets benefits coming in Senate

A Democratic bill enhancing health care, education and job-training benefits for veterans faces an uphill climb as the Senate approaches a showdown vote on the $21 billion legislation. Both political parties generally favor helping the nation’s 22 million veterans and their families, especially in a congressional election year. But Republicans consider the wide-ranging legislation too expensive, and they also want to add a provision imposing new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has blocked a vote on a GOP alternative eliminating some of the improvements and slapping the sanctions on Iran. Citing Reid’s
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