Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

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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Sen. Robert Byrd dead at 92

Robert Byrd, 92, the longest serving Senator in American history, died this morning in a Washington area hospital. The West Virginia lawmaker was admitted last week for heat exhaustion and dehydration but his condition was far more serious. “However, upon further examination by his doctors, other conditions have developed which has resulted in his condition being described as ‘serious,'” spokesman Jesse Jacobs said in a statement. Byrd was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1952 and served six years there before moving to the Senate. Until last year, the often-ailing senator was the top Democrat on the powerful
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Duck and cover: Barton goes into hiding

If you called the Washington office of Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton Friday, all you got was a recording saying the office was closed. The Congressman who created a national uproar and embarrassment wasn’t taking calls. Neither was anyone else on his staff although press secretary Sean Brown said in an email that aides were working that day he would not elaborate. Republicans and Democrats both consider Barton a pariah after he “apologized” to oil giant BP for what he called a “shakedown” in the company’s meeting with President Obama because BP agreed to fork over $20 billion for Gulf
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GOP leaders force Barton to retract ‘shakedown’ claims

Who’s sorry now? Rep. Joe Barton, that’s who. The Texas Republican, the House’s top recipient of oil industry campaign contributions since 1990, apologized Thursday for apologizing to the chief of the British company that befouled the Gulf of Mexico with a massive oil spill. His double mea culpa plus a retraction, executed under pressure from fuming GOP leaders, succeeded in shifting attention from the tragedy, BP’s many missteps and the stoic British oil chief at the witness table, to his own party’s close connection to the oil industry. Barton started the ruckus at midmorning when he took aim at the
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Obama’s tax, jobs bill strikes out in Senate

A Democratic bill to extend jobless benefits and raise taxes on investment fund managers failed a key vote in the Senate on Thursday, dealing a blow to President Barack Obama’s push to boost the economy. The bill would have extended popular business tax breaks, stopped a 21 percent Medicare pay cut for doctors treating elderly patients and extended extra Medicaid money to cash-strapped states. Democratic leaders failed to muster the 60 votes needed to overcome solid Republican opposition to the bill, which would have added about $55 billion to the deficit over 10 years. The Senate voted 56-40 against the
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New poll offers hope for Congressional Democrats

There’s encouraging news for Democrats battling to retain control of Congress in this fall’s elections, with the party holding a slender edge in public trust for shepherding the economy and slightly more people saying their finances are healthy, according to a new poll. The reeling economy remains people’s top concern, according to an Associated Press-GfK Poll conducted earlier this month, making public attitudes about it crucial for both parties’ hopes in November. The good news for Democrats: By a margin of 47 percent to 42 percent, people trust them more than Republicans to guide the economy, and 64 percent —
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