June 28, 2010
Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), the longest-serving member of Congress, passed away over the weekend. With memorials planned in his honor, Congress vowed to continue with official business, including confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, before the July 4 recess.
June 23, 2010
With Washington still focused on the crisis in the Gulf, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), a chief sponsor of the Senate's climate and energy bill, continues to press for legislation that he believes will lower the nation's dependence on foreign oil. The legislation, however, appears to remain short of the 60 votes needed to push the bill through the Senate and stave off an expected filibuster.
June 15, 2010
The spotlight in Washington this week falls squarely on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, with lawmakers set to investigate both the cause and impact of the disaster. Chief executives from the five “Big Oil” companies – BP, Exxon, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell – are scheduled to testify at a House hearing today, and President Obama will address the nation tonight in response to show that his administration is not sitting idly by during the crisis. In other news, the defeat of a favored candidate in last week's South Carolina primary has raised many questions among Washington insiders.
June 07, 2010
With oil continuing to spill into the Gulf of Mexico, many in Congress have taken the opportunity to shine the light on energy legislation. Senate Democrats, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (pictured), vow to move on the issue by the end of July, while Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) is expected this week to introduce energy and climate legislation that aims to cut emissions of planet-warming gasses.
June 01, 2010
With the deadline looming for the benefits package, Washington insiders believed a deal would be struck between the two chambers of Congress before the recent recess to ensure quick passage of the tax extenders bill. Instead, the members left for their home districts after failing to extend unemployment benefits or pay rates for doctors working under Medicare.
May 24, 2010
Fresh off the heels of a primary day that left Democrats and Republicans alike struggling to determine next steps in this election year, both parties had much to do as Congress headed into its last week in session before the Memorial Day recess.
From legislation that some label merely a political ploy to garner support in the upcoming election season to a defense authorization bill that the White House and Pentagon have called too full of expenditures, the last week of May saw both chambers scrambling to clear their dockets before the break.
May 18, 2010
Following weeks of consideration of S.3217, the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, the Senate is moving toward a final vote, possibly as early as Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filed for cloture late on Monday to end debate, saying "This [bill] cannot be delayed any longer."
While Republican senators continue to voice concerns about the bill's provisions related to derivatives and the cost to taxpayers of future bailouts, they consented to the measure after Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) agreed on measures that will, in the future, look more closely at simply dissolving institutions teetering on collapse rather than bailing them out with taxpayer funds.
May 17, 2010
Since the catastrophic blowout on the Deepwater Horizon on April 20, the Gulf of Mexico has seen hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil pour into its waters. While officials from BP have been in Washington discussing the spill, efforts to stem the tide of oil have continued to come up short.
May 10, 2010
With the announcement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens retirement at the end of the current term, President Obama had to put together once again a list of qualified candidates for the high court. Having just gone through the confirmation process last year with now Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the President looked no further than his Solicitor General in naming his new nominee, Elena Kagan.
May 04, 2010
President Obama made a trip to Louisiana on Sunday for a firsthand assessment of the damages and cleanup efforts of the massive oil spill in the Gulf Coast. "We're dealing with a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster," Obama said while in Louisiana. "And that's why the federal government has launched and coordinated an all-hands-on-deck, relentless response to this crisis from day one."
April 26, 2010
Now that the health care debate has reached an end, financial and banking reform has taken center stage in the Senate with Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) (far right) introducing legislation that, among other provisions, seeks to shield the taxpayer from any future industry bailouts.
April 19, 2010
With health care legislation now signed into law, President Obama's attention has turned to the next issue on his domestic agenda: financial regulatory reform.
The President and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner have been meeting with the Senate Republican leadership and the media to argue the merits of the legislation and emphasize the need for the Senate to pass this financial reform package.
April 12, 2010
This week President Obama will welcome leaders from more than 40 countries to the nation’s capital for the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit. The goal of the summit is to keep nuclear materials away from the hands of terrorists while also beginning to examine how best to dismantle the store of nuclear arms worldwide.
"The central focus of this nuclear summit is the fact that the single biggest threat to U.S. security -- both short term, medium term and long term -- would be the possibility of a terrorist organization obtaining a nuclear weapon," Obama said to reporters on Sunday.
On the eve of the Summit, the President held a series of meetings with leaders from India, Kazakhstan, South Africa and Pakistan to reiterate the level of importance and resolve the U.S has on this issue.
"I feel very good at this stage in the degree of commitment and sense of urgency that I've seen from the world leaders so far on this issue," Obama said after a meeting with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa.
Last week, Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a new Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) II treaty that calls on Russia and the U.S. to reduce its number of nuclear warheads and long-range missiles by one-third.
Republicans criticized Obama for appearing weak before the country’s enemies by signing this treaty and so far no Republican has indicated they intend to vote in favor of its ratification. The treaty needs 67 votes to be ratified by the Senate, however according to Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), a vote on its ratification appears unlikely to make it to the floor this year:
“There's not a chance the treaty will be approved this year,” Alexander said on Fox News Sunday. “I don't think that taking away the ambiguity in our use of nuclear power is going to scare Iran or scare North Korea. I think only resoluteness on the part of the commander in chief will do that.”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton went on ABC's This Week to defend Obama and try to ensure the American public of the strength and steadfastness of the Administration.
"Let no one be mistaken. The United States will defend ourselves and defend our partners and allies." We intend to sustain that nuclear deterrent by modernizing the existing stockpile. In fact, we have $5 billion in this year's budget going into that very purpose,” Clinton said. “And with this emphasis on our nuclear stockpile, and the stewardship program that we are engaged in, that we'll be, you know, stronger than anybody in the world as we always have been with more nuclear weapons than are needed many times over. And so we do not see this as in any way a diminishment of what we are able to do.”