Capitol Hillbillies

Ensign’s parents paid off his mistress

Sen. John Ensign said Thursday his parents gave his mistress and her family nearly $100,000 "out of concern for the well being of longtime family friends during a difficult time," providing his first public acknowledgment that the woman received payments tied to the affair.

A Robin Hood health care plan?

House Democrats at work on health legislation are narrowing in on an income tax surcharge on the highest-paid wage earners to help pay the cost of subsidizing insurance for the 50 million who lack it.

Pushing to complete a comprehensive health care bill by Friday and bring it up for committee votes next week, House Democrats abandoned earlier money-raising proposals, including a payroll tax. They planned to meet behind closed doors Thursday to fine-tune the details.

Hoyer: Another stimulus may be needed

One of President Barack Obama‘s top allies in Congress said Tuesday that lawmakers must be open to seeking a second economic stimulus package to fight a stubborn recession and create jobs.

"I think we need to be open to whether or not we need additional action," said House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who underlined it was too soon to fully assess the 787-billion-dollar stimulus approved in February.

Rabid right turns up the heat on Sotomayor

Conservatives stepped up their criticism of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday, but it was unclear how far Senate Republicans were willing to go to create bumps in what appears to be a smooth road to confirmation for President Barack Obama’s first high-court choice.

Franken sees himself as the ‘people’s proxy’

Democrat Al Franken, who is finally being sworn in Tuesday as Minnesota’s junior senator, wants to serve as a "people’s proxy" during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

Franken is joining the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is scheduled to begin hearings next week on President Barack Obama’s first nominee to the high court.

GOP Rep: Michael Jackson was a ‘low life’

Music superstar Michael Jackson was a "pervert" and "a child molester" and the media has disgraced itself with the day-in, day-out coverage of his death, a US lawmaker has charged.

In a two-minute video posted on the YouTube Internet site, Republican Representative Peter King fumed that tributes to the late "King of Pop" honor a "low-life" while people like US troops fighting overseas are ignored.

GOP looks for ways to smear Sotomayor

A week before her Senate hearings, Republicans are floundering in their efforts to trip up Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, unable to find an effective message about why she’s not fit to serve.

Blame the tricky politics of opposing the woman who would be the first Hispanic justice, especially for a party struggling to broaden its base and whose chief spokesman on Sotomayor has a troubled history of racism allegations.

In the Senate, Franken will fit right in

Al Franken, the comedian turned politician, should be right at home in Congress, which humorist Will Rogers once described as the greatest collection of his type in the world.

"Every time they tell a joke, Rogers said, ”it becomes a law and every time they pass a law it becomes a joke."

Congress travels more at taypayer expense

Members of Congress may be telling others to cut back and criticizing corporate CEOs for lavish perks, but taxpayer-paid junkets are on the increase in the House and Senate and family members often go along for the ride.

A study by the Wall Street Journal shows traveling well at taxpayer expense is a perk that hasn’t been cut back in these financially-trouble times. To the contrary, travel is up and the costs continue to rise.