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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.