House and Senate reach compromise on Pentagon bill
WASHINGTON — House and Senate negotiators reached a final agreement Monday on a Pentagon policy bill that would strengthen protections for military victims of sexual assault and keep the prison facility at Guantánamo Bay open over President Barack Obama’s strenuous objections, as Congress rushed to wrap up work in its last full week of the year.
Criticism aside, Michelle Obama plans new PE project
CHICAGO — Michelle Obama announced the name of the best picture via satellite for the Academy Awards ceremony in order to promote the arts among children, her principal constituency, she said in an interview on Thursday. And if people did not like it, she added, that does not bother her.
Publicity push as health law’s court date nears
WASHINGTON — Republicans on Capitol Hill have put together a highly coordinated two-week renewed assault on the health care law, seizing on the legislation’s second anniversary and the next week’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court concerning its constitutionality.
Democrats warm to Obama as a campaign ally
WASHINGTON — Just six months ago, having their names uttered in the same sentence as President Barack Obama’s was something many congressional Democrats could have lived without.
House Republicans yield on a payroll tax cut
WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans on Monday backed down from a demand that a payroll tax holiday be paid for with reductions in other programs, clearing the way for an extension of the tax cut for 160 million Americans through 2012.
Bill would block food stamps, jobless pay for millionaires
WASHINGTON — It is an image many Americans would find rather upsetting: a recently laid-off millionaire, luxuriating next to the pool eating grapes bought with food stamps while waiting for an unemployment check to roll in.
Democrats propose extended payroll tax cut
WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats introduced legislation Monday to extend and expand an expiring payroll tax cut, setting the stage for a showdown with Republicans who are almost certain to reject the Democrats’ proposal for paying for the cut.
Congress turns to spending bills, deficit panel negotiates
WASHINGTON — As members of the congressional deficit reduction panel retreated to conference rooms Monday to continue negotiations, House Republicans and Senate Democrats were putting their final touches on a series of spending bills that they hope will avert another showdown over short-term financing of the government.
Anti-tax pledges lose their allure as eyes turn to reform
WASHINGTON — Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah has signed a pledge never to raise taxes. He signed another pledge too, one that made it nearly impossible to vote for a bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. But right before that vote over the summer, in a meeting with scores of his Republican colleagues, he stood up and proclaimed that he would never sign another pledge. While some pledges, like marriage vows, may always carry weight, strict anti-tax pledges may be losing their sheen.
Debt ceiling bill becomes law, averting default
WASHINGTON — The Senate voted Tuesday to raise the government’s debt ceiling and cut trillions of dollars from its spending, concluding a long and fractious partisan battle just hours before the government’s borrowing authority was set to run out.
Florida Republican congressman Allen West gaining star power
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Often, the most interesting thing about a person is the characteristic that lies beneath, that hidden thing that bobs up along the waves of time.
House and Senate approve compromise 2011 federal budget
WASHINGTON — Congress voted Thursday to keep the government financed through September, putting an end to a raucous first skirmish in this year’s showdown between Democrats and Republicans over federal spending while presaging bigger ones to come.
House votes to end money for NPR, Senate passes spending bill
WASHINGTON — The House voted Thursday to cut off financing for National Public Radio, with Democrats and Republican fiercely divided over both the content of the bill and how it was brought to the floor.
Strong in number and spirit, Republican freshmen hold sway
WASHINGTON — The last speaker was Rep. Steve Southerland, freshman lawmaker from Florida, and so he dug deep. Drawing on the two things that propel him through each day — his experience as funeral home operator, and his general loathing of all things Washington — Southerland politely lit into Republican House leaders one day last week, explaining that he had not come to Washington to whack the federal budget this year by one dollar less than the $100 billion he had pledged to cut in his campaign.
Senate stalls bill to repeal gay exclusion policy in military
WASHINGTON — In a blaze of unusual bipartisan fury, a military policy bill that would repeal the ban on gay and lesbian soldiers serving openly in the military stalled in the Senate on Thursday, severely diminishing the chances of ending the Clinton-era policy this year.
Schumer readies possible leadership bid if Reid defeated
WASHINGTON — Sen. Charles E. Schumer shipped $500,000 to Nevada in recent weeks to help Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader and Schumer’s political patron and close friend, as he fights for his political life in Nevada.
MIT alum Carly Fiorina in race for U.S. Senate seat
You can parse a voting record. Flip-flops — political ones — are fair game. But don’t talk about a woman’s hair.
H1N1 Vaccine Is Fresh Fodder For Opponents
People who do not believe in vaccinating children have never had much sway over Leslie Wygant Arndt. She has studied the vaccine debate, she said, and came out in favor of having her 10-month-old daughter inoculated against childhood diseases. But there is something different about the vaccine for the H1N1 flu, she said.
Renewed Attention for Longstanding California Water Issues
In a sign that a deal addressing California’s longstanding water supply problems may be near, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger convened a special session of the Legislature on Monday to revisit a package of water bills.
In Budget Deal, California Shuts $42 Billion Gap
Take-home pay for Californians is about to shrink. Jeans, hammers, burgers and fries will cost more. Public school children will make due with old textbooks and find more classmates sitting next to them. Parents will receive fewer tax benefits, and state university students will pay 9 percent more in tuition.
Firefighters Get Edge on Wildfires as Wind Eases
Firefighters gained the upper hand against three blazes raging over a 130-mile stretch of Southern California on Monday, as scores of residents picked over the charred remains of their homes and state officials took a new look at how to prevent a recurrence of the destruction.
At State Level, Lawmakers Increasingly Try to Limit Guns
State lawmakers across the country are ramping up efforts to pass new restrictions on guns, following nearly a decade in which state legislative efforts have been dominated by gun advocates.
Bush Makes California Visit; Wildfire Fatality Count Rises
President Bush toured Southern California on Thursday as investigators got down to the work of determining how one sunny fall day last weekend erupted into a 16-fire storm now in its fifth day.
California Struggles to Resolve Disruptive Financial Deadlock
California lawmakers scrambled Wednesday to end a deadlock over the state’s overdue budget, as $1 billion in payments to hospitals, nursing homes, colleges and dozens of state suppliers ground to a halt.