Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

Obama signs end to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’

President Barack Obama signed a new law Wednesday that will allow gays for the first time in history to serve openly in America‘s military. And he urged those kicked out under the old law to re-enlist. Framing the issue as a matter of civil rights long denied, Obama said that “we are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot … a nation that believes that all men and women are created equal.” Repealing the 17-year-old policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” in a ceremony that was alternately emotional and rousing, the president said “this law I’m about
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Senate gives Obama victory on Start treaty

The Senate on Wednesday ratified an arms control treaty with Russia that reins in the nuclear weapons that could plunge the world into doomsday, giving President Barack Obama a major foreign policy win in Congress’ waning hours. Thirteen Republicans broke with their top two leaders and joined 56 Democrats and two independents in providing the necessary two-thirds vote to approve the treaty. The vote was 71-26, with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., showing up just two days after cancer surgery. Obama praised the strong bipartisan vote for a treaty he described as the most significant arms control pact in nearly two
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Congress finally passes aid program for first responders

Congress has passed a $4.2 billion aid package for survivors of the September 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and responders who develop illnesses because of breathing dust from the ruins. The House passed the bill on a 206-60 vote Wednesday about two hours after the Senate cleared it. President Barack Obama has said he is eager to sign it. The package provides money to monitor rescue and cleanup workers and treat illnesses related to Ground Zero. It also reopens a victims’ compensation fund for another five years to cover wage and other economic losses of sickened workers
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Arlen Specter’s farewell: A stinging rebuke to the system

Departing Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter on Tuesday said conservative Republicans who backed tea party challengers against establishment candidates in the recent elections engaged in political cannibalism. In his final floor speech, Specter complained there’s scant room for centrists like himself in a polarized Senate where civility is in short supply. “In some quarters, compromise has become a dirty word,” said Pennsylvania’s longest-serving senator, who lost his re-election bid after three decades in the Senate. Specter complained that some GOP senators had helped tea party challengers beat incumbent Republicans like Utah Sen. Bob Bennett and Rep. Mike Castle in his Delaware
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FCC gets a victory…sort of

A divided Federal Communications Commission has approved new rules meant to prohibit broadband companies from interfering with Internet traffic flowing to their customers. The 3-2 vote Tuesday marks a major victory for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who has spent more than a year trying to craft a compromise. The FCC’s three Democrats voted to pass the rules, while the two Republicans opposed them, arguing that they amount to unnecessary regulation. The new rules are likely to face intense scrutiny on Capitol Hill once Republicans take over the House. Meanwhile, public interest groups decried the regulations as too weak, particularly for
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Obama gets the votes he needs for new arms treaty

President Barack Obama locked up enough Senate Republican votes Tuesday to ratify a new arms control treaty with Russia that would cap nuclear warheads for both former Cold War foes and restart on-site weapons inspections. Eleven Republicans joined Democrats in a 67-28 proxy vote to wind up the debate and hold a final tally on Wednesday. They broke ranks with the Senate’s top two Republicans and were poised to give Obama a win on his top foreign policy priority. “We know when we’ve been beaten,” Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah told reporters hours before the vote. Ratification requires two-thirds
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Did Obama manage to salvage a bad year?

From the wreckage of the mid-term elections, US President Barack Obama, preaching pragmatism and bi-partisanship, is engineering a political rebound and reinvigorating his administration. Yet there are signs that the rare moment of compromise that drove a massive 858-billion dollar, economy-boosting, tax cut bill through Congress may be fleeting, with next year’s battle with Republicans already simmering. Obama’s Democrats meanwhile Saturday celebrated Congress’s repeal of a law barring gays serving openly in the military — a liberal dream for years — and part of the president’s 2008 election platform. “This victory belongs to you,” Obama told supporters in an email
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Eric Cantor, other Republicans: Major hypocrites when it comes to spending

For a guy who insists that federal bureaucrats make too much money, incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sure doesn’t mind handing out handsome government raises of his own. Cantor, the Virginia Republican who has led the GOP charge this year to freeze federal salaries, has boosted his congressional office’s payroll by 81 percent since coming to Congress in 2001 — about 8 percent per year through 2009. When he became minority whip last year, the office’s personnel expenses went up by at least 16 percent. Cantor and other GOP leaders are now pledging to cut their budgets by 5
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Senate passes food safety bill…again

The Senate on Sunday passed a sweeping bill to make food safer, sending it to the House in the waning days of Congress. It was the second time the Senate passed the bill, which would give the government broad new powers to increase inspections of food processing facilities and force companies to recall tainted food. The chamber passed the bill for the first time three weeks ago, but it was caught in a constitutional snag when senators mistakenly included tax provisions that are by law supposed to originate in the House. The version of the legislation passed by the Senate
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Senators still see chance for 9/11 health bill

A retooled bill providing medical care for firefighters and other emergency responders to the September 11, 2001 attacks could be resurrected soon in the Senate, a few weeks after Republicans blocked the measure, backers said on Sunday. “We believe we are on a path to victory by the end of this week,” said Senator Charles Schumer. But he was quick to add that unexpected obstacles could arise. He and fellow New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand outlined for reporters some changes they will propose to their bill in an attempt to win over enough Republican support for passage as Congress winds
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