Congress

Congress
3:31 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Out Of Clout: Some States Brace For Washington Power Outage

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., the longest-serving member of Congress, is celebrated by colleagues, including Vice President Biden, on Capitol Hill in June 2013. A former chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Dingell, now 87, announced in February that he will retire after this term.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 9:36 am

When the next Congress is sworn in, Iowa's congressional delegation will be unusually green. Precisely half of its lawmakers on Capitol Hill are retiring at the end of this session, meaning the state will be losing decades of clout and seniority in Washington, D.C.

And Iowa isn't even the biggest loser this year. California is losing two House Democrats with 40 years of experience each — Henry Waxman and George Miller — along with Republican House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon, who's been in Congress for more than two decades.

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Farm Bill
9:33 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Malloy, Boehner in Food Stamp Fight

Credit Joe Raedle/Getty Images News / Thinkstock

Governor Dannel Malloy has sharply criticized U.S. House Speaker John Boehner who accused Connecticut and other states of cheating the federal food stamp program.

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Congress
6:03 am
Sat March 15, 2014

House Passes Payment Fix For Medicare Docs, But At What Cost?

Medicare's payments to doctors will likely be slashed April 1, unless the U.S. Senate can quickly get a derailed compromise back on track.
iStockphoto

Bipartisan support dissolved this week for compromise legislation that would have fixed a longstanding problem with the way Medicare pays physicians. Though the bill passed the House of Representatives Friday, it now contains a provision almost certain to invite veto unless a Senate version can quickly nudge the ultimate bill back toward compromise.

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Connecticut First
6:06 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Manhattan Building Collapses; Law Proposes Shrinking Drug-Free Zones

An explosion tore through an area of Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood early on Wednesday, collapsing two buildings. There were fatalities reported and dozens injured. All Metro-North service was suspended as all Metro-North trains in and out of New York City use the rail lines adjacent to the blast zone.

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Congress
7:41 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Feinstein's CIA Outrage Splits Senate

Sen. Dianne Feinstein accused the CIA publicly and at length of hacking Senate computers to spy on Senate aides and remove documents.
Uncredited AP

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 1:07 am

The Senate was a chamber divided in reaction to Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein's diatribe against the CIA for allegedly hacking into Senate computers.

A no-nonsense Feinstein, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, took to the Senate floor Tuesday to speak at length and publicly for the first time about a dispute with the agency.

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Sandy Hook
7:00 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Cyclists Ride From Newtown to D.C. With Message for Lawmakers

Team 26 Left Newtown on Saturday. They arrived in D.C late Tuesday morning.
sandyhookrideonwashington.com

A group of cyclists completed a 400 mile bike ride on Tuesday from Newtown, Connecticut to Washington, D.C. This is the second annual Sandy Hook Ride on Washington.

Team 26, a group of 26 cyclists from Newtown and around the country, left Newtown's Edmund Town Hall on Saturday. On the way to D.C., they held rallies in Harlem; Morristown, New Jersey; Doylestown, Pennsylvania; and Baltimore, Maryland.

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Congress
10:16 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Lawmakers Plan to Hold the Senate Floor All Night to Urge Action on Climate Change

The U.S. Capitol.
Credit Kevin Burkett / Flickr Creative Commons

U.S. senators from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island are among 28 lawmakers who are preparing to hold the Senate floor all night long to urge congressional action on climate change.

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Hospitals
4:47 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

West Haven VA Hospital in Spotlight for Unsanitary Conditions

The West Haven VA Hospital.
Credit Connecticut VA Healthcare System

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal has asked the Connecticut VA Healthcare System to report in a month how it will ensure sanitary conditions at its West Haven hospital. Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, visited the hospital Friday morning after a VA Inspector General's report outlined several areas of concern from a June 2013 inspection at the VA hospital. 

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Congress
3:16 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Boehner Casts Doubt On Prospects For Immigration Overhaul

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio arrives for a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Thursday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 6:06 am

Speaker of the House John Boehner seemed to throw cold water on bipartisan hopes for a law overhauling the country's immigration system this year.

"This is an important issue in our country," Boehner acknowledged in a press conference on Thursday. "It's been kicked around forever, and it needs to be dealt with."

Then the Ohio Republican delivered a big, resounding but. He said he "never underestimated the difficulty of moving forward this year." And he issued an ultimatum of sorts.

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Congress
3:03 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Rep. Waxman Leaves Behind A Legacy Of Health Laws

Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California stands in his Capitol Hill office beside a wall displaying his legislative accomplishments. Waxman, 74, said Thursday that he would retire after 40 years in the House of Representatives.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 11:43 am

California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, one of the last remaining members of the huge post-Watergate class of 1974, is calling it quits at the end of this term.

Most people who live outside his Los Angeles district and off Capitol Hill have likely never heard of Waxman. He was never a fixture on the Sunday talk shows, or in Washington's social scene.

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Congress
11:16 am
Wed January 29, 2014

House Passes Compromise Farm Bill

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 11:29 am

The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to pass a five-year farm bill.

The $100 billion-a-year measure included small cuts to the food stamps program, and preserved some farm subsidies. The vote in the House was 251-166.

The bill now heads to the Senate, which is expected to approve it. President Obama is expected to sign the measure into law.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Wed January 29, 2014

The State of The Wheelhouse

Bill Curry
Chion Wolf WNPR

On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama gave a speech that did what it was supposed to: uplift his supporters and enrage his opponents. On WNPR's weekly news roundtable, our panel of analysts and reporters react to the State of the Union address both nationally and here in Connecticut. 

Also, Republican candidate for governor Mark Boughton surprised longtime political observers with his announcement of a running mate. It wasn't what he did that was a surprise, but when he did it. Finally, we remember folk legend and American icon Pete Seeger who died this week.

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SOTU
2:50 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Inside The State Of The Union: What The President Proposed

President Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.
Jim Lo Scalzo EPA/Landov

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 12:49 pm

After a long spell of partisan trench warfare and gridlock, President Obama called for "a year of action" Tuesday as he focused on themes that are central to his second-term agenda. The changes he proposed in his annual State of the Union speech were relatively modest, but flashes of ambition showed in his promise to move forward, with or without Congress, to address issues of income inequality.

Here's what President Obama proposed on the policy front:

Minimum Wage

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SOTU
8:05 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Decrying Washington Stalemate, Obama Calls For 'Year Of Action'

A woman bundled against the cold walks past the U.S. Capitol dome prior to President Obama's State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 2:00 pm

With the country slowly digging itself out of recession, some of his legislative priorities buried under Washington's partisanship and his approval ratings at some of their lowest levels, President Obama called for "a year of action" during his fifth State of the Union address on Tuesday.

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Going to Washington
12:36 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Son of Undocumented Immigrants Invited to the State of the Union Address

Lucas Codognolla is the lead organizer of Connecticut Students for a Dream.
Credit Stamford Advocate

An undocumented immigrant who recently graduated from the University of Connecticut will attend President Obama's State of the Union speech on Tuesday night. He's Lucas Codognolla, lead organizer of Connecticut Students for a Dream, which advocates for immigration reform and education equity for undocumented students. 

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WAMC News
11:16 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Congressional Corner With Joe Courtney

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 10:52 am

    The Farm Bill still has to be completed.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Connecticut Representative Joe Courtney tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that the agriculture industry in his district is waiting.

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SOTU
9:49 am
Tue January 28, 2014

5 Things To Expect In Obama's State Of The Union Address

President Obama gestures to Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner before giving his 2013 State of the Union address.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 2:35 pm

As President Obama prepares to deliver his State of the Union speech Tuesday evening, he does it against a backdrop of some of the lowest voter-approval ratings of his presidency, with a divided Congress that has largely stalled his second-term agenda and with Washington's collective focus starting to shift toward the midterm elections and beyond.

Here are five things to expect from the president in his fifth State of the Union speech:

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Economic Fairness
3:27 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Report Makes the Case for Federal Minimum Wage Hike

Murphy's report makes the point that productivity has risen far faster than wages.

Senator Chris Murphy is adding his voice to the call for a hike in the federal minimum wage.

Connecticut's minimum wage just went up, but there's increasing pressure from President Obama and the Senate Democrats for the federal minimum to follow suit. 

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Coming Home Project
9:42 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Senate Bill Would Restore COLA Benefit for Veterans

American Legion Post 96 Commander Ken Hungerford with Sen. Blumenthal and Linda Schwartz on Thursday.
Credit Jaki Lauper

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal promised to fight for a wide-reaching veterans' bill that includes restoring a cut to cost-of-living adjustments for military retirees.

The legislation, Senate bill 1950, is more than 300 pages. It includes money to help the federal VA eliminate its claims backlog, and extends the number of years that returning veterans can access VA health care. It also expands benefits for caregivers.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Unemployment and the Job Search

Congress continues to debate the extension of unemployment benefits.
Credit Senate Democrats / Creative Commons

The debate over unemployment insurance has Congress in a deadlock. Those opposed to extending emergency benefits argue that doing so only promotes an "idle" class of jobless Americans. Those in favor say it's the only safety net the unemployed have in today’s difficult labor market.

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White House
3:36 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Wielding A Pen And A Phone, Obama Goes It Alone

President Obama has alluded to his pen and his phone as two tools that help him act without waiting for congressional approval.
Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 8:04 am

President Obama has a new phrase he's been using a lot lately: "I've got a pen, and I've got a phone."

He's talking about the tools a president can use if Congress isn't giving him what he wants: executive actions and calling people together. It's another avenue the president is using to pursue his economic agenda.

'If Congress Is Deadlocked'

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Congress
4:17 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

House Republicans Join In Passing $1 Trillion Spending Bill

House Speaker John Boehner and GOP leaders face reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Tuesday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 5:19 pm

The House on Wednesday passed a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill — a compromise that appeared to get past the bitter partisan showdowns that have caused an unpopular federal government shutdown and nearly tipped the U.S. into default.

The 359-67 vote was a sign of considerable support from Republicans, thanks to a bipartisan deal worked out last month laying out spending for the next two years.

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Federal Budget
3:05 am
Wed January 15, 2014

'Pretty Good' Budget Deal Looks Good Enough To Avoid Shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. A massive $1.1 trillion spending bill, aimed at funding the government until October, is getting generally positive reviews, including from House Republicans eager to avoid another shutdown crisis with elections looming.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 9:01 am

For the first time in years, the House of Representatives is expected to approve a massive new spending bill Wednesday that keeps federal agencies operating until a new fiscal year starts in October.

The so-called "omnibus" package of all 12 annual spending bills is a compromise; it has more money in it than what Congressional Republicans wanted, but less than what President Obama had asked for. There is some disappointment with the measure on both sides of the aisle, but this time nobody is talking about forcing another government shutdown.

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Federal Budget
8:24 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Congress Poised To Pass $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill

Jonathan Ernst Reuters/Landov

The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a $1.1 trillion spending bill that would fund the federal government into October and bring to an end, for now at least, the bitter partisan battles that have led to one government shutdown and threatened to push the U.S. into defaulting on its bills.

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Unemployment
5:43 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Senate Unexpectedly Moves Forward On Unemployment Benefits

Katherine Hackett of Connecticut introduces President Barack Obama during a White House event on unemployment insurance Jan. 7. Hackett spoke about her financial struggles during unemployment before Obama put pressure on the House to extend benefits.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 9:05 pm

The Senate surprised quite a few people in Washington today when it voted to proceed on a bill to temporarily extend emergency unemployment benefits. Six Republicans joined Democrats in voting to get the measure over a key procedural hurdle.

But it was only the first step, and the president is applying pressure to keep it moving.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Rep. Elizabeth Esty's First Year on the Job

Elizabeth Esty
Credit Chion Wolf

Elizabeth Esty was sworn into Congress just over a year ago and Republicans have been eyeing her seat ever since. She’s been focusing on gun violence reform, manufacturing, veterans, STEM education, and not always voting along party lines. 

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Congress
6:01 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Senate Confirms Janet Yellen As Federal Reserve Chair

The Senate has approved Janet Yellen as the next head of the Federal Reserve. At a ceremony commemorating the Fed's centennial last month, Yellen sat with (from left-to-right) former chairmen Paul Volker and Alan Greenspan, and current Fed leader Ben Bernanke.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 7:13 pm

The Senate has voted to approve the nomination of Janet Yellen as the next leader of the U.S. Federal Reserve. With Monday's vote, Yellen, 67, will become the first woman to serve as America's banking chief, heading an institution that was established in 1913.

Update at 6:31 p.m. ET: Some Senators Left Out

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Unemployment
11:58 am
Sun January 5, 2014

The Campaign For Jobless Benefits Begins In Congress

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., along with Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., is co-sponsoring the three-month extension of unemployment benefits up for a vote in Congress this week.
Win McNamee Getty Images

The Senate gets back to work Monday after a two-week holiday break. Just as Majority Leader Harry Reid promised, the first piece of legislation getting a vote will be a three-month extension of the long-term unemployment benefits that ran out a week ago for 1.3 million jobless Americans.

Though the Senate unemployment measure is bipartisan, it's not clear it has enough votes to beat a GOP filibuster. Regardless, Democrats are banging the drum on the issue as a midterm election year begins.

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Gun Control
3:17 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Gun Control Lobby Takes Note Of Opposition's Success

Supporters for gun rights gather outside the National Shooting Sports Foundation headquarters in Newtown, Conn., on March 28.
Jessica Hill AP

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 10:13 pm

For gun control advocates hoping to see federal gun laws tighten after the shootings in Newtown, Conn., 2013 was a disheartening year. A narrow provision to expand background checks failed in the Senate.

For gun rights activists, the death of that legislation proved once more their single-issue intensity and decades-long grass-roots organizing were enough to prevail. Those are also valuable lessons for their opponents.

A 'Voice' For Lost Children

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White House
1:32 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Obama On Health Care Rollout: 'We Screwed It Up'

Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 5:46 pm

President Obama, in his final news conference of the year, sought to put the best face on a difficult first year of his second term.

Speaking a few hours before he heads to Hawaii for a two-week vacation, Obama is meeting with reporters at the White House.

He touted the improving economy, saying 2 million jobs had been added in 2013, with the unemployment rate now at its lowest level in five years.

"2014 can be a breakthrough year," he said.

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