Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

Possible Reid endorsement puts NRA under the gun

The National Rifle Association  is in unfamiliar terrain on the conservative firing range this election year: It’s the target. The conservative Netroots are abuzz over the possibility that the NRA may endorse Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). This would be the second major slight by the NRA for political conservatives — the gun group also just negotiated a big exemption on a campaign finance bill loathed by the right. Conservatives say there’s a clear political calculation at work: If Reid loses, he’s almost certain to be succeeded as majority leader by a fierce gun-control advocate, either Illinois Sen. Dick
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Mixed bag in jobs report

A wave of census layoffs cut the nation’s payrolls in June for the first time in six months, while private employers added a modest number of jobs. The unemployment rate fell to 9.5 percent, its lowest level in almost a year. Employers cut 125,000 jobs last month, the most since October, the Labor Department said Friday. The loss was driven by the end of 225,000 temporary census jobs. Businesses added a net total of 83,000 workers, an improvement from May. But that’s also below March and April totals. The unemployment rate dropped to the lowest level since July 2009. But
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House passes massive war funding bill

A House measure blending money for President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan troop surge with last-ditch moves by Democrats to salvage their faltering jobs agenda faces an uphill climb in the Senate. After long delays, House Democrats muscled the approximately $80 billion measure to passage Thursday night as their final act before leaving for a weeklong Fourth of July break. But the Senate passed a significantly slimmer measure in May and it’ll take additional weeks to reconcile the differences between the rival chambers of Congress. It’s just the latest disconnect between the battling House and Senate, which also have been unable to
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Kagan sailing towards nomination

Elena Kagan is speeding toward confirmation as the 112th Supreme Court justice, with Republicans showing little appetite for a long-shot filibuster attempt after sparring with her over abortion, gays in the military and other divisive issues. “Solicitor General Kagan will be confirmed,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., confidently predicted as the Senate Judiciary Committee wrapped up its examination of President Barack Obama‘s high court pick. Barring an unexpected turn, Kagan will succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens and become the fourth female justice in the Supreme Court’s history. It would be the first time that three of the court’s nine justices
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No benefits extension for 1.3 million

More than 1.3 million laid-off workers won’t get their unemployment benefits reinstated before Congress goes on a weeklong vacation for Independence Day. An additional 200,000 people who have been without a job for at least six months stand to lose their benefits each week, unless Congress acts. For the third time in as many weeks, Republicans in the Senate successfully filibustered a bill Wednesday night to continue providing unemployment checks to people who been laid off for long stretches. The House is slated to vote on a similar measure Thursday, though the Senate’s action renders the vote a futile gesture
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Financial reform passes House but Senate delays action

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a landmark overhaul of financial regulations but the Senate put off action until mid-July, delaying a final victory for President Barack Obama. Still, the 237 to 192 vote in the House marked a win for Obama and his fellow Democrats, who have made the most sweeping rewrite of Wall Street rules since the 1930s a top priority in the wake of the 2007-2009 financial crisis. “It has been a long fight against the defenders of the status quo on Wall Street, but today’s vote is a victory for every American who has
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Republicans fail to rattle Kagan

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, who has displayed a cool demeanor and a sense of humor during her Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, was expected to move one step closer Wednesday to succeeding Justice John Paul Stevens, barring a major gaffe. Republicans who oppose her nomination will need to resort to a filibuster to block a confirmation vote, a prospect that seems less and less likely. A few uncomfortable exchanges with Republican senators about her treatment of the military and her political views didn’t slow down Kagan during Tuesday’s hearing. She tried to assure conservatives that her work as a Clinton
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Dems try new tact for unemployment bennies

Senate Democrats are working on a new way to jump-start their stalled election-year jobs agenda while saving unemployment benefits for hundreds of thousands of laid-off workers. The plan is to create one bill that combines the unemployment benefits with an extension of a popular tax credit for people who buy new homes. Under current law, homebuyers who signed purchase agreements by April 30 must close on their new homes by Wednesday to qualify for credits of up to $8,000. The bill would give those buyers until Sept. 30 to complete the purchases and qualify for the credit. Democrats hope to
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Bob Byrd: Passion, poetry, pork

How that man loved to speak. Robert C. Byrd once talked in the Senate for 14 hours and 13 minutes straight. In his half century in that chamber he spoke of the Roman Empire, the West Virginia coal fields, the Peloponnesian War and the West Virginia mountains. He recited poetry, quoted the Bible like the lay preacher he once was and gave speeches about his little dogs Billy and Baby. He talked about how vital it is to the very well-being of the nation that senators be allowed to talk as much as they want. Byrd carried himself like a
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Financial reform runs into snag

President Barack Obama’s efforts to win final approval of a historic financial regulatory reform bill looked more complicated on Saturday after a Republican senator threatened to oppose it. “I was surprised and extremely disappointed to hear that $18 billion in new assessments and fees were added in the wee hours of the morning by the conference committee,” Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown said. He issued the statement after negotiators from the Senate and House of Representatives emerged from a marathon session early Friday morning with a final compromise on a bill that would bring about the most sweeping financial rules revamp
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