Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

Reid, McDonnell keep Senate leadership posts

Senate Democrats and Republicans alike are poised to return their respective party leaders to their posts following an election in which the top Democrat scrambled to retain his seat and the senior Republican picked up 13 new senators. Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, is unopposed to keep his post, as is Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, the minority leader. Reid’s midterm election victory over tea party favorite Sharron Angle spared Democrats a battle over who might have replaced him. And McConnell is sidestepping a divisive fight with conservatives over earmarks by endorsing a tea party-sponsored ban on them. Copyright
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New clobbers old on Capitol Hill

Old and new Washington collided on Capitol Hill Monday, and new won. Within moments of flicking on the Senate lights, Sen. Mitch McConnell announced that when it came to pork barrel politics he had changed his mind. The Senate’s staunchest fan of so-called earmarks reversed course and supported a ban on those special spending requests, a bow to the tea partiers and others in the populist, antiestablishment wave that gave the GOP control of the House and six more seats in the Senate. “Old habits aren’t easy to break, but sometimes they must be,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
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McConnell flips and backs ban on pork barrel spending

Congress’ most unapologetic fan of big-money politics is backing a ban on pork-barrel earmarks and avoiding an early battle with conservative senators who had threatened to force a vote on the matter. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who has long defended the practice of designating money for home-state projects, said he was heeding the message sent by voters so distrustful of government that they swept Democrats from power in the House. McConnell said the abuse of the earmarking system turned it into a symbol of government waste that Republicans do oppose. “Old habits aren’t easy to break,” McConnell, the Senate
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Tea Party’s diverse agenda could be a problem

South Carolina tea party activist Sunny O’Donovan plans to travel to Washington in January to personally witness the swearing-in of her new congressman, Jeff Duncan, who was elected with the backing of several tea party groups. On that day, O’Donovan will shift from being an enthusiastic supporter to an eager constituent with a long wish list. “What I’d really like to see is the national Department of Education abolished and some plans for education to be given back to the states,” she said. “But the first thing is to permanently install the Bush tax cuts. . . . And repeal
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Pelosi’s political purgatory

The petite woman in regal purple edged her way behind a raucous mob of reporters awaiting the next speaker of the House, a brutal midterm election behind her and an unclear future ahead. Attuned for four years to the comings and goings of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, few in the press klatch noticed — and none followed her. The spotlight and the microphones now awaited not the California Democrat, but Ohio Republican John Boehner. Change at the top, the populist battle cry in the 2010 midterm elections, already has taken hold around Pelosi in the final days of her history-making
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Banks face Congressional wrath over foreclosures

Banks under fire over their foreclosure practices face twin hearings in Congress this week, at which they will come under renewed pressure to find ways to keep borrowers in their homes. The hearings on Tuesday and Thursday will include the first appearances by executives from major lenders like Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase since the furor over sloppy foreclosure paperwork erupted in September. Banks are accused of having used “robo-signers” to sign hundreds of foreclosure documents a day, a fiasco that has reignited public anger with banks that received billions of dollars in taxpayer aid during the financial crisis.
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Lame ducks return to Washington

House takeover, hobbled Democrats and invigorated Republicans return Monday to a testy tax dispute and a lengthy to-do list for a post-election session of Congress unlikely to achieve any landmark legislation. With change clearly in the air, more than 100 mainly Republican freshmen arrive on Capitol Hill to be schooled on the jobs they’ll assume when the next Congress convenes in January. For Democrats, it’s another sad note as one of their most venerable members goes on trial on ethics charges. Lame-duck sessions are usually unpopular and unproductive. Nothing suggests otherwise this year. Republicans are looking ahead to January, when
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Newbies get a crash course in being a Congressman

Where to live? Whom to hire? What’s a voting card — and where are the bathrooms? More than 100 members of Congress arrive in Washington this coming week for the first time since winning election, trading the loftiness of campaign speeches for mundane lessons in how to do their new jobs. It’s freshman orientation on Capitol Hill, and the larger-than-usual class of 2010 is getting a crash course on how to navigate the next two years. Talk of changing the nation’s direction? That’s on the back burner for now. The newly elected House members — 85 Republicans, a meager nine
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Democrats cut deal to avoid leadership battle

House Democrats averted a messy leadership struggle, clearing the way for Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer to become second in command of their new minority without a challenge from South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn. Under an arrangement worked out in private, officials said late Friday that Clyburn would instead receive a new position, title unknown and duties undescribed, explicitly labeled the third-ranking post in leadership. The maneuvering was described by Democratic officials after Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., issued a vaguely worded statement saying she intends to nominate Clyburn to a new No. 3 post. The statement made no mention of Hoyer,
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Obama urges earmark reform; GOP says just get rid of them

Confronting the nation’s mounting deficit, President Barack Obama is urging Congress to limit spending on pet home-state projects, while Republicans are challenging him to support an outright ban. In his weekly radio and online address Saturday, Obama said that with the economy still struggling to recover from the recession, the U.S. cannot afford unnecessary spending on so-called earmarks, items lawmakers slip into spending bills without a full examination or debate. “When it comes to signaling our commitment to fiscal responsibility, addressing them would have an important impact,” Obama said from Asia, where he was wrapping up a 10-day trip. However,
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