Capitol Hillbillies

New corruption scandal on Capitol Hill

A federal grand jury has subpoenaed a Democratic congressman in a corruption probe, the first concrete indication that a long-simmering Justice Department investigation of a top lobbying firm also has the potential to seriously damage congressional careers.

On Friday, Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., acknowledged the grand jury has demanded documents from his office, some employees and his campaign committees.

GOP may filibuster Obama’s court pick

Empathy isn’t part of the job description for a Supreme Court justice, a top Republican says.

As President Barack Obama prepares to name his pick for the high court, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican said the qualifications being discussed — "emotions or feelings or preconceived ideas," Sen. Jon Kyl called them — aren’t enough to justify a lifetime appointment. The Arizona Republican on Sunday wouldn’t rule out a filibuster to block an Obama pick that falls outside his definition of the mainstream.

Liberals pissed over setbacks on guns, Gitmo

Frustrated liberals are asking why a Democratic-controlled Congress and White House can’t manage to close the Guantanamo prison or keep new gun-rights laws from passing.

After all, President Barack Obama pledged to shut down the military detention center on Cuba for suspected terrorists. And Democratic control of the government would suggest that any gun legislation leads to tighter controls on weapons, not expanded use.

Senate approves war funds but not Gitmo closure

The Senate late Thursday approved a 91.3-billion-dollar 2009 budget supplemental to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through October 1, but without funds to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

The senators approved the measure in a voice vote that passed 83 against three, after days of debate over the fate of the 240 prisoners being held at the "war on terror" prison camp at the US naval base in Cuba, which President Barack Obama has pledged to close.

Angry Senators pass credit card reform

The credit card companies seem to have few friends on Capitol Hill these days, with even the most business-minded lawmakers siding with consumers in speaking out against steep rate hikes and fees.

The House was expected to pass, possibly as early as Wednesday, a bill that would enact sweeping new restrictions on the industry, including a requirement that customers penalized by higher interest rates because they missed a payment are given a chance to reclaim their lower rate after six months.

The Senate passed the bill Tuesday, 90-5.

Democrats deliver setback to Obama on Gitmo

US President Barack Obama’s plan to close the Guantanamo Bay prison by early 2010 hit a snag as his Democratic Senate allies moved to deny him 80 million dollars he sought for that purpose.

Democrats on Tuesday joined Republicans who have warned for weeks that Obama lacks a plan for dealing with the facility’s 240 detainees from 30 countries, and argued against imprisoning, trying or freeing any of them on US soil.

Credit card bill comes due in Senate

A bill to curb sharp practices in the credit card business was on track for approval by the U.S. Senate as early as Tuesday, with President Barack Obama expected to sign it into law before the end of the month.

Enactment of the legislation would mark the crest of a political backlash rising for years against the card industry amid sudden interest rate increases, hidden fees and aggressive marketing programs that have angered consumers, analysts said.

Torture becomes losing issue for Democrats

Not that the Democrats need any help from the sidelines but they ought to give up on the torture issue. It isn’t working for them.

The Bush administration is gone. No one on the other side, with the exception of former Vice President Cheney, is speaking up on behalf of brutal interrogation techniques, many of which has since been outlawed.

Senate weighs health insurance options

Look out Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare. Senators are meeting behind closed doors to consider whether the federal government should jump into the health insurance business.

The government already covers medical care for seniors, disabled people, poor families and many children. But coverage in those programs is restricted to people who meet certain qualifications, including age and income.

Democrats rush to capitalize on torture memos

Casting aside their president’s misgivings, Democrats are racing into hearings to criticize newly released Bush administration memos justifying harsh terrorism interrogations.

So far, however, the biggest embarrassment has engulfed a Democrat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

As Pelosi keeps trying to clarify when she initially learned of the interrogation techniques, a Senate Judiciary subcommittee scheduled a hearing Wednesday that was billed as the "first public hearing on torture memos since their release."