Democrats in Congress want to offset a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that they say "opens the floodgates" for corporate and special interest control of the American political system.
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Senate Democrats pulled the plug Thursday on a so-called "bipartisan" jobs bill packed with pork and favors to lobbyists and replaced it with a leaner bill with just one goal -- putting Americans back to work.
The stripped-down proposal came in response to critics who said the original bill didn't really create jobs but did generate favors to and donations from special interests.
Republicans, outraged that their special interests would be ignored, yelped loudly, complaining that Democrats reneged on a deal.
Democrats responded by all but daring Republicans to vote against the new bill.
There's a problem with the bipartisan jobs bill emerging in the Senate: It won't create many jobs.
The bill includes tax cuts to please Republicans and its passage would hand President Barack Obama a badly needed political victory. But even the Obama administration acknowledges the legislation's centerpiece — a tax cut for businesses that hire unemployed workers — would work only on the margins.
Tax experts and business leaders said companies are unlikely to hire workers just to receive a tax break. Before businesses start hiring, they need increased demand for their products, more work for their employees and more revenue to pay those workers.
"Good Time Charlie" Wilson, 76, the fun-loving, controversial former congressman from Texas whose clandestine funding of Afghanistan's resistance to the Soviet Union became famous in the movie and book "Charlie Wilson's War," died Wednesday.
Memorial Medical Center-Lufkin in Texas spokeswoman Yana Ogletree said Wilson started having difficulty breathing while attending a meeting in the eastern Texas town where he lived and was pronounced dead on arrival.
The preliminary cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest, she said.
Wilson, who represented the 2nd District in east Texas in the U.S. House from 1973 to 1996, was known in Washington as "Good Time Charlie" for his reputation as a hard-drinking womanizer with a staff of beautiful young women known as "Charlie's Angels." He called former congresswoman Pat Schroeder "Babycakes," and tried -- and failed -- to take a beauty queen with him on a government trip to Afghanistan.
Wilson's efforts to arm Afghan mujahedeen during Afghanistan's war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s became a legend in Washington. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Wilson secured money for weapons, plunging the U.S. into a risky venture against the world's other superpower.
Rep. John Murtha, the 77-year-old Pennsylvania Congressman who spoke out for veterans but opposed the Iraq war, died Monday of complications from gall bladder surgery.
Elected to Congress in 1974, Murtha was the first Vietnam war veteran elected to Congress and was known as a rare Democratic hawk when it came to military issues.
He also skated around ethical issues through much of his Congressional career, escaping indictment in the Abscam scandal and was recently under srutiny for intervening in the defense department contract process on behalf of campaign contributors, a role he could play as the ranking Democrat on the House subcommittee that overseas Pentagon spending.
Is Scott Brown a "different kind of Republican" as he claims or will his Senate service be just another lockstep member of his political party?
That's the question the junior Senator from Massachusetts faces as the Republican takes the seat long occupied by Democratic political icon Ted Kennedy.
Vioe President Joe Biden issued the oath of office to Brown Thursday, giving Republicans 41 votes in the Senate and ending the veto-proof Democratic lock.
Brown says he is an independent but his first comments after officially becoming a Senator was standard Republican rhetoric, reciting party line attacks against the economic stimulus program.
Special legislative favors, especially one designed to secure a Nebraska senator's vote for the embattled health care package, ignited so much public outrage that President Barack Obama is calling them a mistake and House leaders say the bill can't be resurrected unless such sweetheart deals are scrapped.
Obama says Americans were understandably upset by the backroom dealmaking that he called ugly. In a cruel twist, the reaction helped elect a Republican senator in Massachusetts last week, putting the health legislation in peril.
Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 House Democrat, said Tuesday the House may be able to pass the Senate health bill — and salvage Obama's top domestic priority — if the offending items are deleted.
"We've got to get rid of that Nebraska stuff, we've got to get rid of the Louisiana stuff," Clyburn said, referring to provisions inserted to help secure the votes of holdout Democratic senators Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.
Congressional leaders are taking health care legislation off the fast track as rank-and-file Democrats, wary of unhappy midterm election voters, look to President Barack Obama for guidance in his State of the Union address.
House and Senate leaders said Tuesday they need time to determine the best way forward on health care in the wake of last week's special election loss in Massachusetts, which cost Democrats their filibuster-proof Senate majority.
Obama is not expected to offer a specific prescription in Wednesday night's speech, but Democrats want to hear him renew his commitment to the health care overhaul he's spent the past year promoting as his top domestic priority.
Sen. John McCain says he will support President Barack Obama's effort to cut federal spending, but that it won't work unless Obama shows a willingness to veto pork-barrel spending.
Amid indications the administration will announce plans this week to cut domestic spending in its budget proposal, McCain said "we need to do so."
But in his appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America," the Arizona Republican said that Obama "has got to veto bills that are laden with pork-barrel spending, earmarks." He also said he's determined to vote against another term for Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, "because I believe he was the captain of the ship when it hit the iceberg. He was there at the casino when all the gambling went on and he didn't do anything about it."
The Senate is likely to reject a White House-backed plan to establish a bipartisan task force to recommend steps to curb the deficit, even as lawmakers digest the news that President Barack Obama wants a three-year freeze in the domestic budgets they control.
Fresh numbers arriving Tuesday morning from the Congressional Budget Office are expected to bring continued bad news on the deficit, keeping the pressure on Obama and congressional Democrats to demonstrate they're serious about taking on the flood of red ink.