Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

Mitch McConnell achieves a major goal

As a child, Mitch McConnell contracted and largely beat polio. He was student president in high school, the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky law school. He’s never lost a general election and has spent 30 years in the Senate scaling Republican leadership ranks. Half a century after his first Washington stint as an intern, the methodical Kentucky Republican is now poised to achieve his long-cherished goal: becoming Senate majority leader. McConnell was re-elected to a sixth term Tuesday as his party gained at least seven Senate seats — enough to control the chamber in next year’s Congress.
Read More

Secret Service scandals spark rare bipartisanship

The scandal that’s rocked the once-proud Secret Service and raised questions about the president’s safety has also produced rare bipartisan unity on Capitol Hill. With a month more to go in bitterly contested congressional election campaigns, Democratic and Republican lawmakers who usually are at odds have been surprised to find themselves largely agreeing on a response to the agency’s recent extraordinary security breaches, including a knife-carrying intruder who made it all the way into the White House East Room. There were bipartisan calls for Secret Service Director Julia Pierson’s resignation this week, and once it was announced Wednesday, bipartisan agreement
Read More

Harry Reid playing major role in close Senate races

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has twice won elections he was supposed to lose. If Democrats maintain control of the Senate in November, much of the credit will go to the wily Nevada Democrat. Reid is not on the ballot this year, but his position as majority leader depends on Democrats denying Republicans the net six seats they need to retake the Senate. By all accounts he is working as single-mindedly toward that goal as any of his endangered incumbents. With his stooped shoulders, monotone delivery and occasionally impolitic remarks, Reid, 74, does not shine on the campaign trail. He
Read More

Eric Holder stepping down as U.S. Attorney General

It wasn’t difficult for Barack Obama and Eric Holder to be in the same orbit. Both were sons of immigrants, Columbia Ivy Leaguers, basketball fans and prominent African-American political figures. They first met nearly 10 years ago, dinner guests of a mutual Washington friend who seated Holder next to the newly elected senator from Illinois. On Thursday, Obama announced Holder would be stepping down as his attorney general, one of his longest serving Cabinet members. “This is bittersweet,” the president said. Holder, who will stay on the job until his successor is confirmed by the Senate, was at his side.
Read More

Expect more votes from Congress on Syria

As far as Congress is concerned, President Barack Obama’s Mideast war strategy isn’t in the clear yet. The president got what he wanted this past week when the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved arming and training moderate Syrian rebels to fight Islamic State militants. But the go-ahead is good for less than three months. And many lawmakers want a say over the rest of a plan featuring more than 1,600 U.S. military advisers in Iraq and airstrikes expanding into Syria. Congressional authorization for military action is “long overdue,” said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat and
Read More

More questions than answers on Obama’s policies

President Barack Obama’s military campaign against Islamic State group extremists has already crept beyond the narrow parameters he first outlined three months ago. But military experts both inside and outside of the administration argue that even more may be needed for the mission to succeed, including embedding U.S. ground troops with Iraqi security forces who are on the front line of the fight against the violent militants. Taking that step could put Obama dangerously close to violating his pledges to keep Americans out of combat in Iraq. For Obama, re-engaging in combat in Iraq would not only mark a reversal
Read More

Congress gives Obama authority to help Syrian rebels

Legislation requested by President Barack Obama authorizing the military to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels fighting Islamic State militants in the Middle East is headed for his signature after a sweeping Senate vote. The bipartisan 78-22 tally Thursday blended support from Obama’s close Democratic allies and some of his fiercest GOP critics, including top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. It put leading contenders for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination on opposite sides. Some of Obama’s liberal allies defected. The legislation also provides funding for the government after the end of the budget year on Sept. 30, eliminating any
Read More

More meaningless votes in the House

In case you missed them the first time, House Republicans have passed an election-year package of tax cuts, regulation reductions and, once again, a tweak to President Barack Obama’s health law. As before, they stand no chance of becoming law. Republicans also pushed through a separate measure that ties together a host of familiar energy-related items, including approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, increased exports of liquefied natural gas and rolling back rules intended to combat climate change. They too are destined for nowhere. The tax measure was approved 253-163, and the energy measure was adopted 226-191. The bills
Read More

Senate set to vote on Obama’s aid to rebels

President Barack Obama’s request for congressional backing to train and arm rebels battling Islamic State militants in Syria is halfway home after its easy approval by the GOP-controlled House sent the issue to the Senate, where leaders in both parties say approval is ensured. Obama won support from staunch Republicans who typically are reflexively against him and lost the votes from some of his most loyal Democratic allies in the 273-156 House tally. Republicans backed Obama by a more than 2-1 margin; Democrats backed him as well, but to a lesser degree. Top leaders of both parties stood with the
Read More

Nervous Congress set to approve Mideast military actions

Wary House lawmakers are on track to give President Barack Obama authority to order U.S. military training and arms for moderate rebels confronting the growing danger of Islamic State militants. Obama was likely to get his wish in a vote Wednesday despite worries from hawks in both parties that his response was insufficient to battle terrorists who have overrun wide swaths of Iraq and Syria. “If we want to open a front against (Islamic State forces) in Syria, we have to open a front. And I don’t see any other way to do it than try to build an alternative
Read More