Capitol Hillbillies

Health care compromise? Don’t bet on it

Signaling a fading chance for compromise, a leading Republican negotiator on health care legislation on Saturday criticized Democratic legislative proposals as budget-busters that would reroute Medicare spending and restrict medical choices.

The criticism from Sen. Michael Enzi (right), R-Wyo., echoed that of many opponents of the Democratic plans under consideration in Congress. But Enzi’s judgment was especially noteworthy because he is one of only three Republicans who have been willing to consider a bipartisan bill in the Senate.

Obama, nation remembers Kennedy

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, oft-summoned to remember departed members of his famous political family, was himself the subject of a eulogy President Barack Obama was delivering at a funeral expected to draw mourners from across the political spectrum and stations of life.

The Massachusetts Democrat, who died Tuesday at age 77 from brain cancer, was being sent off in high fashion Saturday with a Roman Catholic Mass presided over by no fewer than seven priests, 11 pallbearers and 29 honorary pallbearers.

Tenor Placido Domingo was to sing, accompanied by cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

GOP: Denounce spending, take money

Congressional Republicans lined up to denounce on principle President Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus bill — a wasteful big-government giveaway, they said. No GOP House member voted for the bill and only three Senate Republicans.

Now the Republicans are lining up again. Only this time it’s to try to get a piece of some of that wasteful spending.

Triumphs and tragedies of Ted Kennedy

It is not a stretch to say that if Sen. Edward M. Kennedy had not been stricken last year with the brain cancer that ultimately took his life, President Obama would have a health-care bill, one very likely on the verge of Senate passage. He was that good a legislator.

There were very few major pieces of legislation over the last 47 years that did not bear the Massachusetts Democrat’s touch, in large part because he was more than willing to work with his Republican colleagues.

One last trip to Boston for Teddy

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s body will travel more than 70 miles from his Cape Cod home to Boston to lie in repose in a presidential library he helped develop in tribute to one of his slain brothers.

Family members will attend a private Mass at Kennedy’s Hyannis Port compound at noon Thursday, and the motorcade is scheduled to leave around an hour later. It will pass sites that were significant to the senator on the way to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, where his body will lie in repose until Friday, a Senate office statement said.

Kennedy beat the odds

In the quiet of a Capitol elevator, one of Edward M. Kennedy’s fellow senators asked whether the Massachusetts senator had plans for a family Thanksgiving away from the nation’s capital. No, he said shaking his head in reply, and mentioned something about visiting his brothers’ gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery.

In his half-century in the public glare, Kennedy was, above all, heir to a legacy — as well as a hero to liberals, a foil to conservatives, a legislator with few peers.

Sen. Ted Kennedy dies from brain cancer

Senator Edward Kennedy, a towering figure in the Democratic Party who took the helm of one of America’s most fabled political families after two older brothers were assassinated, has died, his family said. He was 77.

"Edward M. Kennedy, the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply, died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port (Massachusetts)," the Kennedy family said in a statement.

We don’t need more appointed Senators

Massachusetts should respectfully decline Sen. Ted Kennedy’s request that the state allow for the appointment, if his seat becomes vacant, of an interim senator to fill out his term rather than hold a special election within five months of the vacancy.

In a letter to Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, he said that it was "vital" that the state have two senators rather than go five months with only one. Kennedy is gravely ill with brain cancer and mostly absent from the Senate.

Kennedy wants successor named quickly

A cancer-stricken Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has written a poignant letter to Massachusetts leaders asking that they change state law to allow a speedy replacement of him in Congress.

The note has been sent to Gov. Deval Patrick and the state’s Senate president and House speaker while Congress considers an overhaul of the nation’s health care system, a life cause of Kennedy’s.

The letter acknowledges the state changed its succession law in 2004 to require a special election within five months to fill any vacancy. At the time, legislative Democrats — with a wide majority in both chambers — were concerned because then-Republican Gov. Mitt Romney had the power to directly fill any vacancy created as Democratic Sen. John Kerry ran for president.

Republicans back away from ‘end of life’ issue

Until last week, Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson was among the most enthusiastic backers of end-of-life counseling in government health care programs like Medicare.

That was before conservatives called it a step toward euthanasia and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin likened the idea to a bureaucratic "death panel" that would decide whether sick people get to live. And even though those claims have been widely discredited, the issue remains a political weapon in the increasingly bitter health care debate.