Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

Final full-court press on health care

Days away from a make-or-break vote on his health care overhaul, President Barack Obama is turning up the pressure as only presidents can, as Democratic leaders make a desperate scramble for votes. The president is wooing freshman Democrats in the Oval Office, holding at least two one-on-one sessions in the past few days that never appeared on his official schedule, according to aides to two lawmakers invited, Reps. Scott Murphy, D-N.Y., and Suzanne Kosmas, D-Fla. Both voted “no” when the legislation passed the House on the first go-round last year, but now they’re not ruling out siding with the president
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Democrats lack the votes to pass health care reform

The House’s chief Democratic headcounter said Sunday he hadn’t rounded up enough votes to pass President Barack Obama‘s health care overhaul heading into a make-or-break week, even as the White House’s top political adviser said he was “absolutely confident” in its prospects. The administration gave signs of retreating on its demands that senators jettison special home-state deals sought by individual lawmakers that have angered the public. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs predicted House passage this week, before Obama travels to Asia, a trip he postponed to push for the bill. “This is the week where we will have this important
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Catholic hospitals support health bill

A group representing Catholic hospitals Saturday rallied behind President Barack Obama’s health care bill ahead of a House vote in which anti-abortion lawmakers could play a decisive role. The chief executive of the Catholic Health Association, Carol Keehan, wrote on the group’s Web site that although the legislation isn’t perfect, it represents a “major first step” toward covering all Americans and would make “great improvements” for millions of people. The more than 600 Catholic hospitals across the country do not provide abortions as a matter of conscience. The association’s support widens a split among abortion foes on whether the bill
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Democrats add student aid to health bill

Under White House pressure to act swiftly, House and Senate Democratic leaders reached for agreement Friday on President Barack Obama‘s health care bill, sweetened suddenly by fresh billions for student aid and a sense that breakthroughs are at hand. “It won’t be long,” before lawmakers vote, predicted Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She said neither liberals’ disappointment over the lack of a government health care option nor a traditional mistrust of the Senate would prevent passage in the House. At the White House, officials worked to maximize Obama’s influence over lawmakers who control the fate of legislation that has spawned a yearlong
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Senators: Leave our pork alone

President Barack Obama says he wants projects helping specific states yanked from the health care bill Congress is writing. Democratic senators, being senators, beg to differ. The Senate-approved health measure lawmakers hope to send to Obama soon would steer $600 million over the next decade to Vermont in added federal payments for Medicaid and nearly as much to Massachusetts. Connecticut would get $100 million to build a hospital. About 800,000 Florida seniors could keep certain Medicare benefits. Asbestos-disease victims in tiny Libby, Mont., and some coal miners with black lung disease or their widows would get help, and there are
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Are Dems close to sealing health care deal?

Top Democrats say they are resolving disputes over President Barack Obama‘s health overhaul plan, but they face decisions on subsidizing coverage and are still hunting votes to push the vast package through Congress. House Democrats were meeting again Friday to discuss the still-evolving plan and for leaders to try to soothe lawmakers worried about the price they might pay in November’s congressional elections for supporting it. After a day of meetings with rank-and-file lawmakers and among House, Senate and White House bargainers, leaders expressed confidence Thursday evening that this stage of their labors was nearly complete. “We made a lot
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Senators question sky-high charity salaries

A group of Republican senators is questioning high salaries and expensive travel bills for executives at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, raising issues that could jeopardize millions in federal funding for the national charity. The four senators said they were concerned that the chief executive of a charity that has been closing local clubs for lack of funding was compensated nearly $1 million in 2008. They also questioned why in the same year officials spent $4.3 million on travel, $1.6 million on conferences, conventions and meetings, and $544,000 in lobbying fees. “The question is whether or not a
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Pelosi’s office knew about Massa’s behavior, did nothing

Once again, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who promised to “drain the swamp” by purging Congress of ethically-challenged members, looked the other way when questions were raised by a Democratic colleague. The Washington Post is reporting that the chief of staff for Rep. Eric Massa notified Pelosi’s office in October 2009 to express is concern over his boss’s sexual harassment of male staff members on the Hill. Joe Racalto, told the Speaker’s office that he was uneasy about Massa’s behavior towards young gay men on the Hill. Massa, 52 and married, would spend time alone with the young men
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Massa, Rangel: Symbols of Democratic woe

One is a former Democratic freshman little known outside his Corning-Olean-Pittsford, N.Y., district. The other, a 20-term Democratic kingpin from Harlem, is widely known to New Yorkers and anyone following tax legislation. But now, Republicans — looking for any opening to regain control of the House — are portraying newly resigned first-termer Eric Massa and veteran Charles Rangel as dual symbols of Democratic ethical misconduct. There’s no connection between Rangel’s violation of House gift rules — as reported by the House ethics committee — and the ethics panel’s abruptly ended investigation of Massa’s alleged harassment of male staff members. But
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Ensign sought lobbying work for lover’s hubby

E-mails turned over to the FBI and Senate ethics investigators provide new evidence about Sen. John Ensign‘s efforts to find lobbying work for the husband of his former mistress and could add to his legal problems, The New York Times reported. Ensign, R-Nev., suggested that a Las Vegas development firm hire the husband, Douglas Hampton, after it had sought the senator’s help on several energy projects in 2008, according to previously undisclosed e-mails and interviews with company executives, the Times reported on its Web site late Wednesday. The newspaper said the e-mails are the first written records from Ensign documenting
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