Capitol Hillbillies

Blue Dog Dems fight Obama’s excesses

Conservative-leaning Blue Dog Democrats are enjoying a power surge like no other in their 15 years, forcing President Barack Obama and their own party leaders to deal with their demands for cost cuts and tax restraints in overhauling health care.

The evidence is everywhere these days: Polls show the public shares their concerns about the cost of Obama’s plan to insure all Americans who seek coverage. Obama himself has spent valuable presidential time in private talks with these Democrats and in near-daily appeals for the public to prod Congress into action.

Sessions remains opposed to Sotomayor

The top Republican on the Senate committee reviewing Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination said Sunday her testimony did not settle his concerns about elevating her to the Supreme Court. "I was troubled by a number of the things the nominee has said, a number of the rulings she has made," said Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Sotomayor, a federal appeals court judge, is expected to be confirmed, given the Democrats’ big edge in the Senate and public support already from three GOP senators.

House will investigate CIA lies to Congress

The House Intelligence Committee said Friday it will investigate whether the CIA broke the law by not informing Congress promptly about a secret program to deploy teams of killers to target al-Qaida leaders.

Committee Chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, said the hit team plan, which was never carried out, is among several intelligence operations that will be investigated as part of a broad inquiry into the CIA’s handling of disclosures to Congress about its secret activities.

Sotomayor wins key GOP support

 Three Republican senators said Friday they will back President Barack Obama’s choice of Sonia Sotomayor to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, setting the stage for a likely easy confirmation.

"Given her judicial record, and her testimony this week, it is my determination that Judge Sotomayor is well-qualified to serve as associate justice of the United States Supreme Court," Cuban-born Senator Mel Martinez of Florida said on his website.

Baucus: Bi-partisan health care bill possible

Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Thursday he feels the committee will reach a bipartisan agreement on overhauling healthcare.

Baucus said both Democrats and Republicans are working to reach an agreement.

Speaking to reporters after meeting with members of his committee, Baucus said "all participants clearly want to reach an agreement."

Committee negotiations continued Thursday to find a way to pay for the $1 trillion 10-year cost of the overhaul with revenues both parties will accept.

Sotomayor faces one more day in the box

Barring a monumental mistake, Sonia Sotomayor has to endure only a few more hours in the witness chair before she can look ahead to her eventual confirmation as a Supreme Court justice.

Sotomayor returns for a third and final day of questioning Thursday, having avoided saying much on a range of hot-button issues, including guns and abortion.

Her unwillingness to be pinned down on almost any topic frustrated even some friendly Democrats.

Confirmation 101: By the book

Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s opening appearances before the Senate Judiciary Committee could well go down as a textbook case of how a Supreme Court nominee should handle herself.

She was low-key, refusing to let herself get rattled. She kept her answers brief and to the point; the luxury of loquacity belongs solely to the senators. She did not argue, a real no-no. She took notes, almost as if she were in class. And, unlike the spectators and even some of the senators, she never let her attention wander during the marathon questioning — or, worse, appeared bored.

Sotomayor handles Republicans with ease

Judge Sonia Sotomayor, whose confirmation as the first Hispanic on the US Supreme Court is virtually assured, returns to Capitol Hill Wednesday for a third day of Senate grilling.

Sotomayor was due back before the Senate Judiciary Committee at 9:30 am (1330 GMT), a day after she fought back against charges of racial bias and distanced herself from her past remark that a "wise Latina" woman’s heritage might help make better rulings than a white judge.

Sotomayor: ‘I’m nobody’s clone’

Sonia Sotomayor said she’s nobody’s clone. She’s spent a good part of her confirmation hearings showing it — and perhaps offering a preview of how she would carry herself on the Supreme Court.

There were large stretches in nearly seven hours of questioning Tuesday in which Sotomayor lapsed into the sort of painfully parsed answers that seem to afflict all Supreme Court nominees. The goal, after all, is to get confirmed and saying too little always is better than saying too much.

Sotomayor questioning begins on the Hill

Senate Republicans plan to confront Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor with her own words, taken from speeches dating back 15 years, as they try to raise doubts about her ability to judge fairly.

Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing resumes in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday with question-and-answer rounds that are expected to stretch over two days and possibly into a third.