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August 20, 2009

Ailing Kennedy Urges His Senate Seat Be Filled Quickly

Posted: 12:16 PM ET

By Frank Phillips via The Boston Globe

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, in a poignant acknowledgment of his mortality at a critical time in the national health care debate, has privately asked the governor and legislative leaders to change the succession law to guarantee that Massachusetts will not lack a Senate vote when his seat becomes vacant. art_kennedy_gi

In a personal, sometimes wistful letter sent Tuesday to Governor Deval L. Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, Kennedy asks that Patrick be given authority to appoint someone to the seat temporarily before voters choose a new senator in a special election.

Although Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer, does not specifically mention his illness or the health care debate raging in Washington, the implication of his letter is clear: He is trying to make sure that the leading cause in his life, better health coverage for all, advances in the event of his death.

In his letter, which was obtained by the Globe, Kennedy said that he backs the current succession law, enacted in 2004, which gives voters the power to fill a US Senate vacancy. But he said the state and country need two Massachusetts senators.

“I strongly support that law and the principle that the people should elect their senator,’’ Kennedy wrote. “I also believe it is vital for this Commonwealth to have two voices speaking for the needs of its citizens and two votes in the Senate during the approximately five months between a vacancy and an election.’’

(READ MORE)

Filed under: Congress • Kennedy


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August 19, 2009

Rep. Barney Frank Likens Woman to "Dining Room Table"

Posted: 04:03 PM ET

Editor's Note: In an exclusive debate on health care tonight, Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former presidential candidate John Edwards, will take on former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.

Filed under: Congress • Health


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March 12, 2009

Is there another stimulus package in the works?

Posted: 07:39 AM ET

House Democratic aides denied Wednesday that work is already underway on a second stimulus package.

The pushback came a day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested more stimulus spending might be needed, and the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee said he had already instructed his staff to begin working on a bill.

But multiple Democratic aides told CNN another stimulus plan is not in the works, and that Democratic leaders believe they need time to assess whether the first recovery package is effective before taking up another bill.

One leadership aide said House Appropriations Chairman David Obey of Wisconsin got ahead of himself when he told CNN Tuesday evening that his committee was considering another stimulus package, though he had cautioned there was no timeline for moving it.

This aide said House Democratic leaders are letting the current stimulus play out, and that it will be "at least several months, as we get toward the end of the year and see where we are" before they would consider another stimulus bill.

READ MORE

Filed under: Congress • Economy


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March 11, 2009

Hoyer: 'Pork' doesn't fatten the budget

Posted: 09:44 AM ET

By Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., majority leader of the House of Representatives.

Congressional initiatives, added to the president's specific priorities, have come to be known as "earmarks." The power of the purse is expressly bestowed upon Congress by the Constitution and must be protected to maintain the balance of power between the branches of government.

Earmarks, however, actually make up a tiny portion of the budget but have received a disproportionate share of attention.

This attention is due in part to some appropriate criticism of wasteful earmarks and, in part, to purely political motives.

While in control, Republicans reveled in earmarks, quadrupling the number. When Democrats took back Congress in 2007, we imposed strict accountability rules. Now, lawmakers must disclose their earmarks, certify that they have no personal financial stake in them and identify any private entity that might benefit. The public can track every dime, and we are in the process of adopting further transparency measures this year.

READ MORE

Filed under: Congress • Politics


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February 17, 2009

Chuck Norris: Congress' Clueless Credit System

Posted: 08:00 AM ET

by actor Chuck Norris

There they go again! The House and Senate have buried us in yet another bailout-stimulus heaping pile of fiscal dung - a $789 billion loan that has been tacked onto our children's (and children's children's) already staggering $10-plus trillion deficit. Are you just going to sit there and take another one up the tailpipe?

Though President Obama emphatically declared that this 1100-page piece of legislation does not contain "a single pet project, not a single earmark," it's full of some type of financial fluff.

Call it what you will, but few knew recessionary needs included $2 billion for battery companies, $2 billion for the National Parks Service, $2.3 billion for NASA and the National Science Foundation, $1.1 billion for airport improvements, $850 million for Amtrak, $800 million for federal prison construction, $300 million for additions to the federal fleet, $200 million for new Department of Agriculture buildings, $165 million for fish hatcheries, $100 million for the FBI, $100 million for shipyards, $50 million for an arts endowment, etc. (A detailed list of the stimulus package expenditures can be reviewed on the website of Patton Boggs legal firm at http://www.pattonboggs.com.)

(Read more of Chuck Norris' commentary HERE)

Filed under: Chuck Norris • Congress


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February 10, 2009

Here are some key differences in Senate/House stimulus bills

Posted: 11:10 AM ET

Key differences between the $827 billion Senate version of President Barack Obama's economic recovery plan and the $820 billion version that passed the House last month.

SPENDING

_State aid: The Senate bill has $39 billion in education aid to states. The House measure includes $54 billion. It also includes a separate $25 billion block grant for states to use on other programs.

_Direct aid to individuals: The Senate devotes $17 billion for one-time $300 payments to Social Security recipients, poor people on Supplemental Security Income and veterans receiving disability and pensions. The House has $4 billion to provide a one-time additional Supplemental Security Income payment to poor elderly and disabled people of $450 for individuals and $630 for married couples.

_School construction: The House provides $19.5 billion to build and repair school and university facilities. The money was stripped from the Senate bill.

TAXES

_Alternative minimum tax: The Senate devotes $70 billion to "patch" the alternative minimum tax, saving more than 20 million taxpayers a 2009 tax increase averaging about $2,000. The House bill does not include that provision.

_Homebuyer tax credit: The Senate provides $35.5 billion for a $15,000 tax credit for purchasers of homes bought in the year after the bill takes effect. The House includes $2.6 billion and limits its smaller $7,500 credit to first-time homebuyers for homes purchased from Jan. 1, 2009 to July 1, 2009 and phases out the credit for couples making more than $150,000.

_Carbuyer tax deduction: The Senate devotes $11 billion to make interest payments on loans for new cars and automobile sales taxes deductible. The House bill does not.

Filed under: Congress • Economy


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February 9, 2009

Specter: Why I voted for the stimulus package

Posted: 08:37 AM ET

By Senator Arlen Specter, R-PA

I am supporting the economic stimulus package for one simple reason: The country cannot afford not to take action.

The unemployment figures announced Friday, the latest earnings reports and the continuing crisis in banking make it clear that failure to act will leave the United States facing a far deeper crisis in three or six months. By then the cost of action will be much greater - or it may be too late.

Wave after wave of bad economic news has created its own psychology of fear and lowered expectations. As in the old Movietone News, the eyes and ears of the world are upon the United States. Failure to act would be devastating not just for Wall Street and Main Street but for much of the rest of the world, which is looking to our country for leadership in this crisis.

The legislation known as the "moderates" bill, hammered out over two days by Sens. Susan Collins, Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman and myself, preserves the job-creating and tax relief goals of President Obama's stimulus plan while cutting less-essential provisions - many of them worthy in themselves - that are better left to the regular appropriations process.

(Read the rest of Sen. Specter's commentary HERE)

Filed under: Congress • Economy


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February 4, 2009

Coburn: Stimulus package is debt that we don't need

Posted: 10:10 AM ET

by Tom Coburn, U.S. Senator from Oklahoma

As the Senate considers a massive $1.1 trillion stimulus bill, it is vital that the American people ask hard questions of their elected officials. When they do, it will become very clear that the bill will not only fail to stimulate the economy, but could seriously delay economic recovery.

As a nation, we got into this mess by spending and investing money that didn't exist. We won't get out of it by doing more of the same.

Yet this is precisely what this bill proposes we do. Less than 10% of the bill could be considered true stimulus, if one assumes tax credits and infrastructure spending will jolt the economy. The other 90% of the bill represents one of the most egregious acts of generational theft in our nation's history, with taxpayer money going to special-interest earmarks, an ill-conceived bailout to states, and permanent spending increases that expand government's reach in areas like health care and education.

(Read more of Sen. Coburn's commentary HERE)

Filed under: Congress • Economy


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January 30, 2009

One of the 15 vying for Rahm Emanuel's vacant seat

Posted: 11:25 AM ET
Vodpod videos no longer available.

It's a crowded field out there to replace Rahm Emanuel in the U.S. House of Representatives – there's 15 candidates in the Democratic primary and we came across one of their tv ads and HAD to share it with you...

Filed under: Congress


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January 23, 2009

Crowley: Balance of power trying to find balance

Posted: 10:40 AM ET

by CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley

Democrats hold a strong majority in Congress, but with power comes a power struggle, and a potential headache for President Obama.

Just two days into his term, the president is already facing pushback from leaders of his own party.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have made it clear - it's not their job to answer to Obama.

To a certain degree, the president-Congress tension is simply politics at play - something that happens every time a new president comes in.

But this time, the Democrats have even more power than they did before the election, meaning Pelosi and Reid both have huge majorities in their respective houses.

(READ the rest of Crowley's commentary HERE)

Filed under: Congress


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