January 15, 2014 |
WASHINGTON - Partisan lawmakers feuding over the proper size of government reached a temporary truce Wednesday as the House easily approved a $1-trillion spending bill aimed at averting another federal shutdown. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) corralled his often-restless Republican majority into supporting the bipartisan accord, which is expected to be approved by the Senate this week. The measure, approved 359 to 67, will fund almost every aspect of federal operations for the remainder of the fiscal year, through Sept.
January 9, 2014 |
Congress is finally grappling with an issue it should have dealt with before members rushed out on Christmas vacation: extending unemployment benefits. There is bipartisan support for renewing the federal benefits that expired last month, cutting off aid to 1.3 million long-term unemployed Americans, including more than 200,000 in California. Yet some lawmakers' comments suggest that they're not really serious even now about getting the money flowing again. At times of high joblessness, the federal unemployment insurance program provides up to 47 extra weeks of assistance to laid-off workers who have run through their state benefits while trying in vain to land a job. Some critics say the benefits prolong unemployment by discouraging idled workers from taking whatever job happens to be available or making it more expensive for employers to hire them.
December 20, 2013 |
"Whenever a fellow tells me he is bipartisan," said Harry Truman, "I know he is going to vote against me. " The hosannas to bipartisanship accompanying the budget deal passed this week should have served as fair warning to the rest of us that we lost this vote. True, politicians and commentators vied to hail the sacrifices that had been made on both sides of the aisle for the greater cause of "restoring public faith in the budget process" and thereby bolster Congress' poll ratings. In reality, there was one clear winner: the bipartisan defense lobby, a category that does not apparently include wounded veterans, who must give up some of their pensions for the sake of restoring that public faith, not to mention funding the extra $22 billion for defense that will flow inexorably into the pockets of Lockheed (stock already up 55% this year)
December 18, 2013 |
A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers is trying to bar Chinese poultry from federal school lunch and other nutrition programs because of China's poor record on food safety. On Wednesday, 12 Democratic representatives and two Republicans called for language in the 2014 agriculture appropriations bill to ensure that chicken processed in China is not included in the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Food and Summer Food Service programs. "Children are our most vulnerable population with respect to food-borne illnesses and sensitivity to potentially dangerous chemicals," the lawmakers said in a letter to fellow members of Congress.
December 16, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The Senate confirmed Jeh Johnson as the next secretary of Homeland Security on Monday, capping a smooth approval process for the high-profile post. The former Pentagon general counsel will take office this week after a 78-16 vote, succeeding Janet Napolitano, who left in September to become president of the University of California system. An array of former officials from Democratic and Republican administrations, including all three former department secretaries, endorsed Johnson.
December 13, 2013 |
The budget agreement reached by the House and Senate this week is a small step forward in restoring some sanity and order to the process. By putting in place a bipartisan plan for the next two years, the agreement represents a much-needed improvement over the uncertainty of governing by crisis that has dominated fiscal policy the last several years. But the fundamental fiscal challenges we identified in the 2010 report of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and the need for reforms of entitlement programs and the tax code, go unaddressed.
December 12, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - House Republicans, with help from Democrats, passed an $85-billion budget deal Thursday that falls short of conservative small-government goals but represents the first potential cease-fire in the budget battles that have left Congress lurching from one fiscal crisis to another. Approval of the compromise represents a victory for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who appears to have regained momentary control over his rebellious majority despite the opposition of influential conservative groups, as well as for Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.)
December 11, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - In an uncharacteristically forceful tone, House Speaker John A. Boehner on Wednesday lambasted the conservative advocacy groups that helped bring his party to power, saying their opposition to a bipartisan budget proposal amounted to an effort to manipulate Republicans and the American people "for their own goals. " The rare outburst from the often poker-faced speaker, a reversal of his past approach toward influential conservative groups, underscored long-simmering tensions between them and mainstream Republicans, who appear to be moving to reestablish their control over the party's agenda.
December 10, 2013 |
The new congressional budget deal, as announced Tuesday evening by Republican Rep. Paul D. Ryan and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, was light on fiscal details and big on buzzwords that have not exactly carried the day in Washington recently: Compromise. Common ground. Had there been a soundtrack, the Rolling Stones' “You Can't Always Get what You Want” would have been playing on Capitol Hill speakers. Although the road ahead for the deal is highly uncertain - conservative groups declared war before the deal was even announced and liberals weren't too pleased either - Ryan and Murray appeared visibly relieved, as if trying to put to rest on behalf of the entire Congress the crisis-to-crisis careening that has been the congressional hallmark of late.
December 9, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration will launch a lobbying push Tuesday to stop Congress from approving harsh new penalties for Iran, a move the White House warns could sink international negotiations aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear program. A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.), has nearly completed sanctions legislation that it hopes to attach as an amendment to the annual, must-pass defense authorization bill, which could face a vote this week before Congress adjourns for the holidays.