Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

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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Deficit commission challenges conventional wisdom on budget

The leaders of the deficit commission are baldly calling out the budget myths of both political parties, challenging lawmakers to engage in the “adult conversation” they say they want. Their plan — mixing painful cuts to Social Security and Medicare with big tax increases — has no chance of enactment as written, certainly not as a whole. But the commission’s high profile will make it harder for Republicans and Democrats to simply keep reciting their tax and spending talking points without acknowledging the real sacrifices that progress against government deficits would demand. It’s time for both conservatives and liberals to
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Democrats to Pelosi: Time to quit

In a fresh sign of turmoil among defeated Democrats, a growing number of the rank and file say they won’t support House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a politically symbolic roll call when the new Congress meets in January. “The reality is that she is politically toxic,” said Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley, one of several Democrats who are trying to pressure Pelosi to step aside as her party’s leader in the wake of historic election losses to Republicans last week. Pelosi startled many Democrats with a quick postelection announcement that she would run for minority leader. She has yet to draw
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Report: Lifting gay ban won’t hurt military

A Defense Department study group has found that the United States could lift its ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military with little risk to current war efforts, The Washington Post reported Thursday. “More than 70 percent of respondents to a survey sent to active-duty and reserve troops over the summer said the effect of repealing the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy would be positive, mixed or nonexistent,” the Post said, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the document, due to be delivered to President Barack Obama on December 1. “The survey results led the report’s authors
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Advice to newbies: Details, details, details

Be work horses, not show horses. Choose details over drama. The small stuff? Sweat it. And do it fast. Republicans retaking control of the House in January are getting lessons from veterans of the past two transitions of power on Capitol Hill — 1994, when the GOP last took control of Congress, and 2006, when Democrats grabbed it back. Lesson No. 1: They have a short window to convince the public they’re serious about changing the way Washington works. “If we look like we’re doing business as usual,” says Rep.-elect Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., “then obviously the American people will say,
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Is Boehner more of a crybaby than Pelosi?

Got hankies? The next speaker is a weeper. If soon-to-be-ousted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is known for her steely smile and composure, her replacement, John Boehner, has a reputation for tearing up. It starts with a quaver in the Ohio Republican’s voice. Then there’s a pregnant pause as he tries — usually unsuccessfully — to keep his feelings in check. Soon, he’s choking out words in a rush of emotion, shaking his head and waving his hands as he tries to pull himself together. It happened most recently when Boehner took his first turn on stage after Republicans seized control
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