Capitol Hillbillies

Former Utah Congressman dies in ATV crash

Former Utah congressman Bill Orton died in an ATV accident when his machine flipped over on a sand dune at Little Sahara Recreation Area. He was 60.

Juab County Sheriff Alden Orme told The Associated Press that Orton died almost immediately of his injuries about 4 p.m. Saturday.

Orton, a Democrat, was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 1997. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for Utah governor in 2000.

Congress boosts Obamas agenda

Passage by both House and Senate of companion budget plans gave President Barack Obama and his allies on Capitol Hill a key victory, but the debates also exposed some of the president’s vulnerabilities.

Obama’s Democratic allies passed plans broadly supporting the young administration’s agenda of higher spending on domestic programs like education and overhauling the nation’s health care system. The $3.6 trillion House plan passed by a 233-196 vote Thursday.

House passes pay curbs on bailed-out banks

The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved legislation to curb "excessive" employee pay at financial firms that receive government bailout funds, a measure that could supplant an earlier effort to heavily tax executive bonuses.

The bill, which passed on a 247-171 vote, would give the U.S. Treasury broad powers to prohibit "unreasonable and excessive" compensation and bonuses that are not based on performance standards.

Congress set to give Obama pared-down budget

Democrats controlling the House and Senate are on track to give President Barack Obama a key victory by adopting slightly pared-back versions of his $3.6 trillion budget.

Passage of the companion plans, expected Thursday, would provide the young administration with a symbolic boost, even though the budget blueprints provide little guidance on how to craft subsequent Obama initiatives to reshape the U.S. health care system or combat global warming.

Is Dodd doomed?

Democrats in Sen. Chris Dodd’s home state are pissed over his role in the controversial bonuses paid to fat cats at American International Group (AIG). Democrats elsewhere are pretty damned mad too.

And Democratic leaders wonder if it’s time to replace Dodd with someone who might have a chance of holding on to his Senate seat.

They believe Dodd is done. Time to dump the veteran Senator.

Republicans attack Obama’s budget

Attacking President Barack Obama’s grand spending plans, a GOP lawmaker who almost joined the Democrat’s Cabinet said Saturday the U.S. must live within its means or risk its tradition of passing a more prosperous country from one generation to the next.

"We believe you create prosperity by having an affordable government that pursues its responsibilities without excessive costs, taxes or debt," Sen. Judd Gregg said in the Republican radio and Internet address.

Gregg, who accepted the job as commerce secretary but then withdrew his nomination because of "irresolvable conflicts" with Obama’s policies, has become one of the toughest critics of Obama’s handling of the economy.

Obama’s huge budget marches through Congress

For now, President Barack Obama’s Democratic allies are endorsing his ambitious budget plan, but general agreements on fighting global warming and boosting health care promise to be severely tested later in the year as details are penciled in.

The Senate Budget Committee was poised to adopt Obama’s budget plan Thursday after approval by a companion House panel on a party-line vote late Wednesday.

Lawmakers are making modest adjustments to Obama’s blueprint as they advance budget plans that lay out a congressional road map for major legislation later this year on health care, energy and education.

Cantor calls Obama’s budget ‘out of the mainstream’

A leading House Republican is charging that President Barack Obama is pushing a federal budget so far out of the mainstream that even congressional Democrats are struggling with it.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor asserted that the $3.6 trillion spending blueprint that Obama will personally push in a visit to Capitol Hill later Wednesday would burden future generations with staggering debts.

Obama’s economic team faces grilling over AIG

The Federal Reserve’s chairman and the secretary of the treasury are making a rare joint appearance at a congressional hearing, ostensibly to take a scolding over the handling of bonuses at AIG, the giant insurance company that has become the symbol of reckless risk-taking on Wall Street.

But after venting their spleen yet again at a House hearing Tuesday, lawmakers also were expected to press Fed boss Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the new risks to taxpayers from their latest effort to save tottering banks and the U.S. economy: a plan to take over up to $1 trillion in dodgy mortgage securities with the help of private investors.

The art of the deal: Buying votes on Capitol Hill

Rep. John Murtha celebrated his 35th anniversary as a congressman by getting an early start on his next campaign, staging an invitation-only fundraising luncheon for dozens of lobbyists and defense contractors at the private Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington, Va.

But last month’s event, with tickets starting at $1,400, was missing one longtime friend: Paul Magliocchetti, the founder of a lobbying firm that over the past two decades has been one of Murtha’s biggest sources of campaign donations.