Archives for Capitol Hillbillies

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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McConnell: We don’t need no stinkin’ Russian nuclear treaty

The Senate’s Republican leader said Sunday he would oppose a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, damaging prospects for President Barack Obama‘s foreign policy priority in the final days of the postelection Congress. Top Democrats still expressed confidence the Senate would ratify the accord by year’s end. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., criticized the treaty’s verification system and expressed concern that the pact would limit U.S. missile defense options even though Obama insisted Saturday that the treaty imposes no restrictions on missile defense. “Rushing it right before Christmas strikes me as trying to jam us,” McConnell said on CNN’s “State of
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Economic stimulus sets the stage for next year’s big fight

In the year-end tax debate of 2010, President Barack Obama got the economic stimulus he sought while Democrats in Congress settled for picking a political fight. Far more quietly, Republicans pocketed a two-year extension of George W. Bush-era tax cuts at all income levels and a sweetened estate tax to go with it, without having to swallow billions in public works spending that would have inflamed their tea party supporters. By the time Obama had signed the bill on Friday, he and Rep. Eric Cantor, the conservative Virginian in line to become House majority leader, could have read entire sections
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‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is history after historic vote

In a historic vote for gay rights, the Senate agreed on Saturday to do away with the military’s 17-year ban on openly gay troops and sent President Barack Obama legislation to overturn the Clinton-era policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Obama was expected to sign the bill into law next week, although changes to military policy probably wouldn’t take effect for at least several months. Under the bill, the president and his top military advisers must first certify that lifting the ban won’t hurt troops’ ability to fight. After that, the military would undergo a 60-day wait period. Repeal
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Republcans end year with scrooge move on immigration

Senate Republicans on Saturday doomed an effort that would have given hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants a path to legal status if they enrolled in college or joined the military. Sponsors of the Dream Act fell five votes short of the 60 they needed to break through largely GOP opposition and win its enactment before Republicans take over the House and narrow Democrats‘ majority in the Senate next month. President Barack Obama called the vote “incredibly disappointing.” “A minority of senators prevented the Senate from doing what most Americans understand is best for the country,” Obama said. “There
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Congress pontificated against earmarks, then then packed bill with pork

More than two dozen senators — most of them Republicans — put hundreds of homestate projects in the $1.3 trillion bill to fund the federal government even though they recently voted to ban so-called earmarks. The effort to pass the 1,924-page bill collapsed Thursday night after complaints by conservatives over its complexity and size and the relatively few days to be devoted to debating its merits. Anti-spending tea party activists were angry, too, especially since they had helped propel Republicans to big gains in the midterm elections. A handful of Republican senators needed to advance the massive measure withdrew their
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Next up: ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’

The Senate was headed toward a landmark vote Saturday on legislation that would let gays serve openly in the military, testing waning opposition among Republicans and putting Democrats within striking distance of overturning “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Passage would be a historic victory for President Barack Obama, who made repeal of the 17-year-old law a campaign promise in 2008. It also would be a political win for congressional Democrats who have struggled repeatedly in the final hours of the lame-duck session to overcome Republican objections. A procedural vote was expected by noon Saturday. If at least 60 senators vote to
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Weiner raps Obama on tax deal

A prominent Democratic opponent of the tax cut package passed by Congress says Republicans got the better of President Barack Obama in the negotiations to reach agreement on the $858 billion deal. Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner of New York says Republicans turned out to be “better poker players” than the president. He told CBS‘ Early Show on Friday that the GOP got the two things it most wanted, a lower estate tax and extension of tax cuts for the wealthy. Weiner voted against the package that the House adopted late Thursday. He says that when the latest agreement expires in
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Congress goes into urgent mode; rushes to make it come for the holidays

Rushing to finish by Christmas, congressional Democrats worked Friday to secure Senate ratification of a new arms control treaty and to end the military’s ban on openly gay service members as they neared the end of two tumultuous years of single-party government. Legislation to keep the federal government running until mid- to late February was also on the agenda, a matter for negotiations with emboldened Republicans who will take control of the House and add to their numbers in the Senate come January. President Barack Obama seized one legislative triumph in the lame-duck session as Congress voted early Friday to
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