Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

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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Republicans tap two tea party winners for transition help

To help lead the GOP‘s transition to power in the House, Republicans on Monday tapped two newly elected congressmen who drew tea party backing in their campaigns. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Tim Scott of South Carolina, who won endorsements by Sarah Palin and support from tea party activists, are part of a 22-member team charged with crafting new rules and smoothing the GOP’s shift from minority to majority. The team, led by Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon and headquartered in the basement of the Capitol, was to gather over Chinese food Monday evening in Republican leader John Boehner‘s office
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Palin to Bernanke: ‘Cease and desist’

Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin on Monday weighed in on the global debate over the Federal Reserve’s $600 billion plan to buy up government debt, suggesting Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke should “cease and desist.” “We shouldn’t be playing around with inflation,” Palin, who is widely seen as a prospective 2012 Republican presidential candidate, said in remarks prepared for a Monday speech in Phoenix. “We don’t want temporary, artificial economic growth bought at the expense of permanently higher inflation, which will erode the value of our incomes and our savings. We want a stable dollar combined with real economic reform. It’s
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