Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 8:37 am
The House of Representatives has approved several bills that would limit and change the way the federal government regulates businesses. The Republican-backed measures were all passed by largely party-line votes; none are seen as likely to be enacted into law.
The legislation underscores "an increasingly symbolic thrust of legislation as Congress heads toward midterm elections," NPR's David Welna reports for our Newscast unit.
Democrats believe they've discovered a way to play more offense against Republican efforts that have had the effect of making it harder for many voters — especially young, senior and minority citizens — to cast their ballots.
Their answer: a new initiative, announced by the Democratic National Committee at its winter meeting in Washington, aimed at countering voter ID and other laws and practices that can dampen voting.
Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 5:42 pm
Celebrities regularly testify on Capitol Hill about issues important to them. But when comic actor Seth Rogen addressed a U.S. Senate subcommittee about Alzheimer's disease Wednesday, the experience was anything but typical.
Disappointed by the hearing's low turnout, Rogen took to Twitter — where his account has 1.84 million followers — to voice his frustration.
"Not sure why only two senators were at the hearing. Very symbolic of how the Government views Alzheimer's. Seems to be a low priority," Rogen tweeted after the hearing.
Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 3:16 pm
He has held his seat in the House of Representatives since 1991 But today Rep. Ed Pastor announced that he won't seek another term. Pastor, 70, announced his decision on Twitter, saying that it was time for him "to seek out a new endeavor."
"After 23 years in Congress serving the people of AZ, I have decided not to seek re-election this year. It has been an honor," he tweeted. "Thank you."
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel briefs reporters at the Pentagon on Monday. Hagel and President Obama will need to fight through a wall of resistance to their proposed defense budget cuts, say former members of a defense base closing commission.
Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 1:17 pm
Cutting defense spending in Washington is about as popular as proposing Social Security cuts. In other words, not very.
Which explains why, following Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's announcement Monday that the Obama administration's new budget would propose shrinking the Army, closing bases and ditching weapons systems, the responses from Capitol Hill lawmakers have been some version of "over my dead body."
Levees, like this one in New Orleans, must be certified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before appearing on federal flood maps. This change has resulted in higher flood insurance premiums in some areas.
Credit Mario Tama / Getty Images
Ward Aucoin is facing a sharp jump in his flood insurance premium, due to a 2012 law that may be revised. A crabber to make ends meet, Aucoin lives in Louisiana with his wife and two daughters, Taylor (far right) and Zoe.
The Alabama House of Representatives has approved a $1.8 billion General Fund that offers no additional money for most state agencies. The House approved the bill by an 80-20 vote Wednesday night. It now moves to the Alabama Senate. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, called the budget the best the state could do in a lean year. Some Democrats took to the House microphones saying it was time for the state to consider new revenue sources, such as legalized gambling.
An Alabama legislator wants to change state law so that people can carry a loaded pistol in their vehicle without a concealed carry permit. Republican Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale said Wednesday that people should not have to pay for their 2nd Amendment right to carry their weapons. Current law allows people to carry their pistol in their vehicle without a permit, but the weapon has to be unloaded, locked away and out of reach. Beason said an unloaded weapon is of no use to the driver. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing Wednesday and will vote next week.
The Alabama Senate has approved drug testing for some welfare applicants.
The Senate voted 24-4 Wednesday to require drug testing for any welfare applicant with a felony or misdemeanor conviction for drug possession or distribution in the last five years.
The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Trip Pittman of Daphne, says the legislation would give people using drugs an incentive to stop. His bill would cut off benefits to the head of a household after three failed drug tests, but others in the household would continue to get benefits. The bill is set to expire in 2017.
Debbie Dingell with Michigan Sen. Carl Levin and then-presidential candidate Barack Obama during a 2008 campaign event in Flint, Mich. Dingell is expected to announce Friday that she will run for her husband's House seat.
Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 7:22 pm
Debbie Dingell is expected to announce Friday that she will run to succeed her husband, John Jr., for the southeast Michigan congressional seat that's been in the family since John Sr. was elected in 1933.
Though several news outlets reported her intentions, former Michigan state legislator Bill Ballenger of InsideMichiganPolitics.com retained a kernel of skepticism.
In the three years Republican Rep. David Camp has wielded the gavel of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, overhauling the tax code has been his abiding ambition.
The last revamping of the tax code was 28 years ago, and facing the prospect of having to relinquish that gavel at the end of this year, Camp declared today the time has come to start the debate on a new tax code overhaul.