Capitol Hillbillies

Unemployment fight first battle of an election year

Unemployment fight first battle of an election year

The struggle in Washington over whether to renew expired jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed is as much about providing aid to 1.3 million out-of-work Americans as it is about drawing the first political line of an election year. Tuesday’s unexpected vote in the Senate removing one obstacle to a three-month extension of aid attracted […]

Year’s end also brings end to 55 tax breaks

Year’s end also brings end to 55 tax breaks

  In an almost annual ritual, Congress is letting a package of 55 popular tax breaks expire at the end of the year, creating uncertainty — once again — for millions of individuals and businesses. Lawmakers let these tax breaks lapse almost every year, even though they save businesses and individuals billions of dollars. And […]

Can water projects unify a divided Congress?

Can water projects unify a divided Congress?

Big multimillion-dollar water projects, once a favorite target of good-government reformers who made them a poster child of political pork, are back in vogue as a rare force of concord in a dysfunctional Congress. Republicans and Democrats who found little common ground in 2013 are rallying around a bill they hope to pass early next […]

The new politics of budget compromise in Washington

The new politics of budget compromise in Washington

The muted market reaction to this week’s budget deal in Washington may initially seem like a disappointment. After all, uncertainty over government spending, debt and taxes has consistently emerged in business sentiment surveys as the biggest single factor holding back corporate investment and damaging financial confidence. Why then did Wall Street celebrate this breakthrough with […]

Budget deal gives Pentagon rare spending stability

Budget deal gives Pentagon rare spending stability

Working-age military retirees would see fewer dollars in their federal pensions and the Pentagon would get some long-sought stability in spending under Congress’ budget deal. The agreement eases some of the pain of the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that past and current defense secretaries, senior military leaders and Congress’ defense experts have railed against for […]

Republicans, Obama express support for modest budget deal

Republicans, Obama express support for modest budget deal

Top Republicans and President Barack Obama are lining up behind a modest but hard-won bipartisan budget agreement that seeks to replace a portion of tough spending cuts facing the Pentagon and domestic agencies. The deal to ease those cuts for two years is aimed less at chipping away at the nation’s $17 trillion national debt […]

Congress, Obama face low public approval ratings

Congress, Obama face low public approval ratings

Heading into a congressional election year, Americans hold Congress in strikingly low regard, and nearly two-thirds say they would like to see their House member replaced, a new poll finds. Even though Americans are feeling somewhat better about the economy — and their personal finances — elected officials in Washington aren’t benefiting from the improved […]

Congress renews undectable gun law last at last minute

Congress renews undectable gun law last at last minute

Congress’ easy renewal of an expiring ban on undetectable plastic guns belies the larger reality that one year after the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn., major new firearms restrictions have little chance of enactment anytime soon. Lawmakers took an easy step Monday when the Democratic-run Senate unanimously gave final congressional approval to a bill […]

Confused by Obamacare? So is Congress

Confused by Obamacare?  So is Congress

Think you’re confused by “Obamacare.” It’s roiling Capitol Hill behind the scenes, too. Members of Congress are governing themselves under President Barack Obama’s signature law, which means they have great leeway in how to apply it to their own staffs. For House members and senators, it’s about a section of the law that may — […]

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