Congress

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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Federal Budget Deal
11:05 am
Thu December 19, 2013

DeLauro Highlights Plight of Unemployed Facing End of Benefits

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro listens at a round table discussion of long-term unemployment benefits.
Credit Harriet Jones / WNPR

Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro warned that the state's economy will suffer because of the decision not to extend unemployment benefits in the federal budget deal reached last week.

DeLauro voted, she said, reluctantly, against the Murray-Ryan budget compromise precisely because it does nothing to help the long term unemployed. On Wednesday, she brought together some of the people who will be affected for a discussion in Middletown.

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Federal Budget
9:01 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Bipartisan Budget Deal Passes Key Test In Senate

It may seem to some like a holiday miracle, but the Senate moved ahead on a bipartisan budget plan Tuesday.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 7:09 pm

Updated at 10:27 a.m. ET: Moving Ahead:

The Senate voted 67 to 33 on Tuesday to move forward on the two-year, bipartisan budget plan that restores some of the automatic spending cuts of recent years, trims spending in other areas and appears to have put on hold until 2015 the bitter battles that led to this year's partial government shutdown.

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Federal Budget
7:09 am
Wed December 11, 2013

'Something For Everyone To Dislike' In Budget Deal

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., crafted the budget deal.
T.J. Kirkpatrick Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 4:37 pm

The reviews are coming in for the bipartisan budget deal crafted by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and as the Los Angeles Times says, the package seems to have "something for everyone to dislike."

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Sen. Chris Murphy Steps in The Wheelhouse

Sen. Chris Murphy on WNPR's Where We Live.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Senator Chris Murphy just got back from Europe, talking to allies about U.S. spying abroad and counter-terrorism efforts. He’s also been outspoken about the role of the media in covering the Obamacare rollout. In fact, he’s got so much to talk about, we’re bringing him into our weekly news roundtable, The Wheelhouse. Join us for a free-wheeling conversation and ask your questions of Senator Murphy.

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The Two-Way
11:57 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Senate Democrats Detonate 'Nuclear Option' To Curb Filibusters

Senate Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 2:09 pm

(We added to the top of this post at 2:08 p.m. ET.)

There was high drama Thursday on the floor of the Senate as Democrats significantly changed the way business in the chamber is done.

In what Republicans cast as a "power grab" but Democrats defended as a way to break gridlock, the Senate's rules were changed to make it much more difficult for a minority of the members to hold up action on key presidential nominees.

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Trans Pacific Partnership
7:09 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Delegation Splits Over Free Trade Protest

Credit Diane Orson / Chion Wolf / WNPR

The effort to oppose a new free trade agreement seems to have caused a rare split in the ranks of Connecticut's congressional delegation. Connecticut's five U.S. House members are all Democrats, and usually stand together on a wide range of issues. But a huge new free trade agreement currently being negotiated between the U.S. and ten other Pacific nations is causing some friction between colleagues.

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Technology
6:34 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

'Holy Cow' And 'Kangaroo Court': Panel Grills HealthCare.gov Officials

Todd Park, U.S. chief technology officer, answers questions in a House Oversight Committee hearing about problems with the federal HealthCare.gov site. One Democrat on the committee called the hearing "a kangaroo court."
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 6:46 pm

A House oversight hearing examining the troubled start of HealthCare.gov was contentious from the start Wednesday, as Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., sought to cut short the opening remarks of one of the first officials to speak, Frank Baitman, the deputy assistant secretary for Information Technology in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, asked Baitman to conclude his statement, noting that the panel's time was short. The interruption came as Baitman discussed the work of his agency to save taxpayers money.

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Where We Live
3:24 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Rep. Luis Gutierrez: From the Barrio to Capitol Hill

Rep. Luis Gutierrez speaking to John Dankosky and a packed house at Real Art Ways.
Credit Tucker Ives / WNPR

Luis Gutierrez has been a tireless advocate for comprehensive immigration reform throughout his career in congress.

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Congress
11:40 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Blumenthal Says House Should Take Up ENDA Now

Richard Blumenthal is urging House Speaker John Boehner to take up ENDA.
Ray Hardman WNPR

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which would ban discrimination of employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. On Friday, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal urged House Speaker John Boehner to take up the bill in the House.

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Congress
8:34 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Connecticut VA Commissioner at D.C. Nomination Hearing

Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut's Veterans Commissioner spoke in Washington D.C Wednesday at her nomination hearing to a federal VA position.

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Affordable Care Act
3:14 am
Tue October 22, 2013

How Politics Set The Stage For The Obamacare Website Meltdown

It all seemed so easy then. Back in June, the Supreme Court declared the Affordable Care Act constitutional. Waiting for that decision may have cost the administration precious time.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 12:23 pm

Since the Affordable Care Act's health care exchanges launched to a long series of error messages Oct. 1, most of the "what went wrong" fingers have been pointing at software developers.

But some say there's more to it than that — that politics has played a role as well.

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Budget
12:12 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Blumenthal: Congress Must Focus on Budget

Senator Richard Blumenthal.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

With the shutdown in the rearview mirror, Connecticut's senior senator said it’s vital for Congress to reach a budget accord as soon as possible.

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Washington, D.C.
12:20 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Former House Speaker Tom Foley Dies At 84

House Speaker Tom Foley (back, right) and Vice President Al Gore applaud during President Bill Clinton's State of the Union address on Jan. 24, 1994.
Ron Edmonds AP

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 1:20 pm

Former House Speaker Tom Foley, who led the chamber from 1989 to 1995, has died, according to his family. He was 84.

The Associated Press says Foley's wife, Heather, confirmed that the Washington state Democrat died at his Washington, D.C., home.

He had reportedly been in ill health in recent months.

The AP says:

"Foley became the first speaker since the Civil War to fail to win re-election in his home district.

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Opening Government
1:29 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Back to Work, But No Reason to Celebrate, Says Murphy

Senator Chris Murphy.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

It’s back to work for hundreds of thousands of furloughed government employees. President Obama has signed legislation ending the partial government shutdown and averting a U.S. default. But U.S. Senator Chris Murphy said there’s no reason to celebrate.

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The Wheelhouse Digest
10:14 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Privacy vs. Transparency; Bridgeport Police; House Stenographer Goes on a Rant

State Rep. DebraLee Hovey during Wednesday's FOI/privacy task force hearing.
Credit CT-N

The state's task force examining victim privacy and public information met Wednesday for a marathon session to consider issues at stake in restricting Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act. "Privacy now is so fleeting and so easily violated," testified Morgan Rueckert, the attorney for 22 Newtown families. One brief exchange captured on video put its finger on the pulse of the debate. That and more below in The Wheelhouse Digest.

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New Jersey Special Election
7:07 am
Thu October 17, 2013

In Special Election, Cory Booker Wins N.J. Senate Seat

Newark Mayor Cory Booker greets a supporter after casting his vote in a special U.S. Senate election on Wednesday in Newark, New Jersey.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 6:58 am

The Associated Press projects that Newark Mayor Cory Booker will win a special election for the New Jersey Senate seat left vacant after the death of Frank Lautenberg.

With 55 percent of the precincts counted, Booker, a Democrat, has a commanding 11-point lead over Steven Lonegan.

Booker will succeed Gov. Chris Christie's interim appointee, Republican Jeff Chiesa, and will have to run again in 2014 for a full six-year term.

The AP adds:

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Congress
7:00 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Congress Approves Bill To End Government Shutdown, Avert Default

Speaker of the House John Boehner pumps his fist after leaving a meeting of House Republicans at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 12:32 am

Bringing to an end an episode that once again exposed Washington gridlock at its worst, the House approved a Senate deal that will end a 16-day federal government shutdown and avert the first government default in U.S. history.

The 285-144 vote came at the eleventh hour, after weeks of partisan bickering and a very public airing of deep divisions within the Republican party. President Obama signed the bill into law after midnight Thursday.

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Congressional Deals
8:32 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

The Fiscal Fight's Winners And Losers

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives at the Capitol on Wednesday. The Kentucky Republican helped forge a late-hour deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to sidestep financial chaos.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 9:14 pm

The White House is insisting, publicly at least, that nobody emerged victorious from the government shutdown/debt crisis debacle.

"There are no winners here," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday after Senate leaders announced they had a deal to end the budget impasse.

"And nobody's who's sent here to Washington by the American people can call themselves a winner," Carney said, "if the American people have paid a price for what's happened."

Well, yes and no.

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National Debt
8:21 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

As It Happened: The Fight Over The Debt Ceiling, Shutdown

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks to the Senate floor after agreeing to the framework of a deal to avoid default and reopen the government, on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 10:23 pm

Update at 10:18 p.m.: House Approves Bill:

The crisis is over. With about two hours before the country reached the debt ceiling, the House has approved the bill and it is now it's way to the White House. We've posted separately on that development and we are putting this live blog to bed.

Our Original Post Continues:

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Government Shutdown
8:44 am
Wed October 16, 2013

When Will The Government Run Out Of Money?

Quoctrung Bui

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 12:19 pm

In the course of any given month, the government collects billions of dollars in taxes, spends billions more, and borrows money to cover the difference between what it collects and what it spends.

If Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling soon, the government won't be able to borrow money to cover the difference anymore and won't be able to pay all of its bills.

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Where We Live
7:50 am
Wed October 16, 2013

The Day Before the Debt Ceiling Deadline

President Barack Obama meets with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other members of the House Democratic leadership in the Oval Office, Oct. 15, 2013.
Credit Pete Souza / White House

This shutdown is getting old. Federal workers aren’t getting paid, and that means lots of people right here in Connecticut are affected directly - and a lot more are having problems, too.

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Day 14
8:12 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Shutdown Continues, Connecticut Delegation Signs "Discharge Petition"

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have shown they can come together...for the State of the Union address.
Credit house.gov

Lawmakers from Connecticut have joined more than 180 members of the U.S. House of Representatives to sign a special petition to reopen the federal government.

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