Capitol Hill (CNN) – In the past two years, the deficit has risen to become the near center of the political universe. It lies underneath every congressional debate and has soared up public opinion polls. (In a December CNN poll, 93 percent of those surveyed said the deficit is a concern, 68 percent saying it worries them "a lot".)
But why, exactly, does the deficit matter? We lay it out in this week's American Sauce podcast.
And this Mardi Gras week, we take listeners to an old mansion in New Orleans, to hear how the city's recovery is unfolding for residents of Big Easy.
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Washington (CNN) - The last American veteran of World War I to die should lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol, his daughter said after lawmakers appeared to block the suggestion.
"While Papa was still living, it was suggested that he lie in honor in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol as a final, formal tribute to all the veterans of World War I. Papa consented to this because he understood that, as the last living World War I veteran, he was expected to represent all of the World War I veterans," Frank Buckles' daughter Susannah Buckles Flanagan said in a statement.
Washington (CNN) - Hollywood celebrity Ben Affleck is bringing his star power to Capitol Hill Tuesday, where he will testify about the "devastating humanitarian crisis in eastern Congo," according to a statement by the actor.
He will be appearing on behalf of the Eastern Congo Initiative, a non-profit organization that he founded in 2010. Affleck is expected to appear before the House Africa, Global Health and Human Rights Subcommittee at a panel held by Republican Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey.
Capitol Hill (CNN) – Congress has 110 new members and one new ruling party in the House. And then, not so new, are the 12,000+ registered lobbyists in Washington. (See the Center for Responsive Politics' database here.) This week, American Sauce asks whether change in Congress will force any change in the lobbyist ring of power.
And we clear up some numbers in the Health Care Wars. Does the new law save or cost the government? Does it add or kill jobs?
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Washington (CNN) - Lobbyist and former Congressional aide Ashley Turton, wife of a top White House staffer, was killed Monday in an early morning fire in her garage, according to sources familiar with the still-unfolding investigation.
D.C. Fire Department spokesman Pete Piringer would not confirm the identity of the victim but said the first emergency calls came in around 5 a.m. ET. He said "the main theory now is that this was a crash event and then a fire" in the garage adjacent to Turton's home on Capitol Hill.
Washington (CNN) - Some knew Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, others just wanted an outlet for emotions they felt in the wake of the Arizona shooting rampage. In all, more than 50 marchers gathered on Capitol Hill Saturday night to honor the victims.
The group braved sub-freezing temperatures and gusty winds, marching to the Capitol and up the west steps to hold the vigil.
Aspen, Colorado (CNN) – Craig Newmark, a self-described "nerd," has found a pretty nerdy issue on Capitol Hill and is seeing bipartisan support: transparency in government through technology.
Newmark, who founded the popular website Craigslist, is now the company's customer service representative and a board member of the Sunlight Foundation, which focuses on transparency in government.
"A democracy needs informed citizens to survive, and that requires accurate information on political matters," Newmark told CNN after a discussion on technology and government transparency with America's Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
Washington (CNN) - A slew of adjectives come to mind to describe the past week on Capitol Hill: historic, intense, passionate and exhausting, to name a few. We saw Democrats finally reach their goal that for so long seemed so out of reach, and outnumbered Republicans giving their arguments against sweeping reform as the wrong prescription for what all agree is an ailing system.
This last leg of the health care marathon brought a slew of citizens to the Capitol. Unfortunately, some of the protests had nothing to do with health care – calling a civil rights icon the 'N' word, and hurling a slur at an openly gay congressman. There were also thousands of peaceful protesters genuinely exercising their precious right to demonstrate, to call on Congress not to pass health care legislation they vehemently oppose.
At one point during the weekend of House health care votes, several House Republicans went onto the balcony of the Capitol to show solidarity with the demonstrators. One of those GOP congressmen, Steve King of Iowa, was captured by our cameras holding a picture of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He gave a thumbs down, but then began to swipe the face of her picture, even appearing to slap it.
In an interview with King. I asked him to explain what appeared to be offensive gestures.
He called that description an exaggeration.
"My goal is to inspire people to stand up for the Constitution, stand up for fiscal responsibility, and stand up for the rule of law," said King, "This bill is an affront to the Constitution."
Washington (CNN) – Ask any Georgetown University Law Center professor how to beat the best basketball players Congress has to offer, and they might quote the Beatles: All you need is Love. Reggie Love, that is.
The former Duke University player and personal aide to President Obama took to the court Wednesday night in a surprise appearance to help the "Hoya Lawyas" faculty team defeat a congressional squad, 49-42, in the 23rd annual "Home Court" charity basketball game in Washington.
The members of Congress, dubbed the "Hill's Angels," ended the first half with a 10-point lead, but the tide quickly turned when Love rotated in for the Georgetown team shortly before halftime.
Love was the faculty team's second-highest scorer, with 8 points for the night. Mervyn Jones, son of the late Ohio congresswoman and longtime Hill's Angels coach Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, was the leading scorer for the congressional team with 16 points, the most for any player in the game.
Other top congressional scorers were Democratic Reps. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania with 7 points and Michael Arcuri of New York with 6 points. Republican Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona scored 4 points, all of them in free throws. Also scoring for the Hill's Angels were Democratic Reps. Gene Green of Texas, Frank Kratovil of Maryland, Brad Ellsworth of Indiana, and John Boccieri of Ohio.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Paula Nowakowski, the chief of staff to House Minority Leader John Boehner, died Saturday, according to a statement from Boehner.
"It is with profound sadness and shock that I announce the passing of Paula Nowakowski, my longtime chief of staff, trusted aide, and friend, who died suddenly last night," Boehner said in the statement released Sunday.
Boehner spokeswoman Antonia Ferrier said Sunday that the 46-year-old Nowakowski had "an apparent heart attack."
In his statement Boehner wrote, "Words cannot adequately express the sorrow and disbelief I and every member of our team are grappling with today in the wake of this stunning news. We will remember Paula as she would want to be remembered - as a tireless worker, faithful friend, rabid Detroit sports fan, whip-smart strategist, warrior for freedom, and devoted Catholic who counted President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II among her greatest heroes."
President Barack Obama called Boehner on Sunday to express his condolences, Ferrier said.