Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

House set to approve Keystone Pipeline XL bill

House Republicans are on track to easily pass legislation to authorize the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, moving the GOP-led Congress closer to a clash with President Barack Obama. Friday’s vote will be the 10th time since July 2011 that the House has voted on legislation advancing the pipeline, and the outcome is expected to be no different: It will pass. But the effort is still likely to hit a dead end, despite the fact the Senate on Thursday cleared an identical bill out of a committee. The Senate bill has the backing of 60 members, enough to
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Congress, Obama: Let the fights begin

Not wasting any time, new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Barack Obama are setting course for showdowns over health care, a big oil pipeline, immigration policy and financing of the agency that tries to protect the U.S. from terrorists. At the same time, both insist they are eager for compromise — if only the other side would give in. “It seems with every new day, we have a new veto threat from the president,” McConnell, R-Ky., complained Wednesday, his second day as Senate leader. Republicans won control of the chamber in the November elections, and strengthened their hold
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Will new House rule set up battle over Social Security?

Buried in new rules that will govern the House for the next two years is a provision that could force an explosive battle over Social Security’s finances on the eve of the 2016 presidential election. Social Security’s disability program has been swamped by aging baby boomers, and unless Congress acts, the trust fund that supports it is projected to run dry in late 2016. At that point, the program will collect only enough payroll taxes to pay 81 percent of benefits, according to the trustees who oversee Social Security. To shore up the disability program, Congress could redirect payroll taxes
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New Congress gets quick veto threat from Obama

In a blend of pageantry and politics, Republicans took complete control of Congress for the first time in eight years Tuesday, then ran straight into a White House veto threat against their top-priority legislation to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Republicans condemned the unexpected announcement, which came at the same time they were savoring the fruits of last fall’s elections and speaking brightly about possible bipartisan compromises in the two years ahead. “I’m really optimistic about what we can accomplish,” said Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, moments after he was recognized as leader of the new Republican majority on one
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Can Obama and McConnell play nice?

President Barack Obama and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell are warily looking for areas of agreement as they begin a new chapter in a relationship that is likely to remain frosty but businesslike. With both men trying to position their parties for 2016 elections to choose a successor to Obama, the president and the Senate majority leader will need to find ways to work together if they want to overcome legislative gridlock and reach agreements on trade, tax and economic issues. It will not be easy. Obama, 53, and McConnell, 72, are not close and have little in common. McConnell
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Republicans taking control in Congress

Republicans are assuming full control of Congress for the first time in eight years in a day of pomp, circumstance and raw politics beneath the Capitol Dome. They planned to move swiftly Tuesday toward a veto showdown with President Barack Obama over the Keystone XL pipeline, summoning unity despite a tea party-backed effort to unseat House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. As mandated by the Constitution, Congress was to convene at noon. In the Senate, with Vice President Joe Biden presiding, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was to automatically ascend to majority leader following his approval by rank-and-file Republicans last year.
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Republicans throw up roadblocks to Medicaid expansion

Governors across the political spectrum are hitting a roadblock in their bids to expand Medicaid with federal funds: Republican legislators who adamantly oppose “Obamacare.” While some of these governors themselves have criticized the president’s health care law in general, they’ve come to see one component — Medicaid expansion — as too generous to reject. But they’re battling conservative lawmakers who say it’s better to turn down billions of federal dollars than to expand Medicaid under the 2010 law. Partisan politics have driven states’ Medicaid decisions ever since the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that expansion was optional, not mandatory, under
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GOP House leader a speaker before white supremacists

As Republicans struggle to attract more votes from minorities heading into the 2016 presidential election, a House GOP leader has acknowledged that he once addressed a gathering of white supremacists, though his office denies any association with the group’s social views. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the chamber’s third-ranking Republican, served in the Louisiana Legislature when he appeared in 2002 at a convention of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke founded the group, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified as a hate group. In a written statement, Scalise aide Moira Bagley
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Convicted tax evader will resign from Congress

A New York congressman who pleaded guilty to tax evasion just days ago has announced he’ll resign from office next week because he would not be able to give the job his full attention anymore. Republican Rep. Michael Grimm issued a statement late Monday saying he will resign effective Jan. 5. “The events which led to this day did not break my spirit, nor the will of the voters,” he said. “However, I do not believe that I can continue to be 100% effective in the next Congress, and therefore, out of respect for the office and the people I
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Can the GOP keep control of the Senate in 2016?

Senate majority in hand, ascendant Republicans are set to challenge President Barack Obama and the Democrats on Capitol Hill come January. But a much tougher election map two years from now could force the GOP right back into the minority. In November 2016, Republicans will defend 24 seats, Democrats 10. Seven of the GOP seats are in states that President Barack Obama won with 50 percent or more of the vote in 2012. It’s a stark reversal from this past November, when Democrats were the ones contending with a brutal map, including candidates running in seven states Obama had lost.
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