Washington (CNN) - Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski vowed Tuesday to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to impose new limits on the emission of greenhouse gases.
The Senate on Thursday is expected vote on a "resolution of disapproval" by Murkowski that would prevent the EPA from further regulating air pollution from vehicles and industrial facilities.
Murkowski has the bipartisan support of 40 other senators, who may disagree with each other on the scientific impact of greenhouse gases, but who all agree that such regulations should be authorized by Congress, not an executive agency.
"The EPA intends to take control of climate policy, take it away from the Congress," Murkowski said at a press conference with eleven of her fellow Republican senators. "And I think those that are looking at this from the perspective of separate but equal branches of government look at this and say that this is absolutely unacceptable."
It is unclear whether there is enough support in the Senate to approve the measure, but its prospects in the House are slim. Regardless, the White House on Tuesday issued a veto threat if it makes it to President Obama's desk.
Washington (CNN) - House Republicans are demanding the White House turn over internal documents related to its efforts last year to persuade Rep. Joe Sestak to stay out of a Democratic primary battle in Pennsylvania with Sen. Arlen Specter, in exchange for a government job.
Unhappy with the White House explanation of the matter, Reps. Darrell Issa of California and Lamar Smith of Texas, the top Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter Wednesday to White House Counsel Robert Bauer requesting "All records and documents created by or produced to the Office of the White House Counsel in the course of the investigation..."
Last Friday, Bauer released a memorandum revealing White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had enlisted the help of former President Bill Clinton to offer to Sestak an unpaid position on a Presidential advisory board. Bauer concluded "allegations of improper conduct rest on factual errors and lack a basis in the law."
Issa and Smith, in their letter, disagreed.
"Even if we suspend our disbelief that the White House asked a former U.S. President to call on a Member of Congress to offer a mere unpaid advisory position in exchange for dropping out of a Senate race, the facts alleged in the Sestak Memorandum still appear to violate several sections of the United States Code," wrote the Republican congressmen.
Washington (CNN) - Despite making a pledge to resign, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison announced Wednesday that she will not retire before her term expires in 2012.
"This has been a hard decision. I really did intend to leave," the Texas Republican told reporters in San Antonio.
Citing the recent passage of health care reform, a possible change in energy policy and the federal government's "massive debt," Hutchison said there were plenty of reasons to remain in Washington.
Washington (CNN) - One day before President Barack Obama signs into law the final piece of health care reform legislation, Speaker Nancy Pelosi Monday ran a rhetorical victory lap in her hometown of San Francisco, touting the benefits of the new law while also directly challenging Republicans who want it repealed.
"They want to reverse and repeal a prohibition on denying care on the basis of a pre-existing condition. Can you imagine making that case?" Pelosi said, linking GOP anger to one of the most popular aspects of the bill. "No, we like denial of service on the basis of pre-existing condition," she mockingly said of the Republicans.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) recently told CNN that Republicans would use the slogan "repeal and replace" in their Congressional campaigns later this year, acknowledging that a majority of Americans want some type of reform but rejecting the size and scope of the Democrats' plan.
Dismissing the Republicans' electoral strategy against the health care legislation, Pelosi additionally appears ready to armor herself against potential personal attacks made against her on the campaign trail.
"If I have to talk to him, I'll talk to him," Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar said begrudgingly of a phone call his office received Wednesday from the White House. But Cuellar told reporters in the Capitol he has so far refused to return the call because he first wants to decide how he'll vote on the health care package. The Texas congressman also acknowledged that it was "White House staff" that placed the call, but he presumes the president wanted to speak to him.
"At the end of the day, when we take a vote, he's not going to be out there supporting me and running my elections," Cuellar said of Obama. "It's going to be up to me to run my election. And it's up to me to decide on my own that this is in the best interests of my district."
Cuellar, who is in his third term, voted in favor of the original House version of health care reform in November, but he has not announced his intentions this time.
Washington (CNN) – House Democrats appear to be softening their pledge to allow the public 72 hours to review the health care reform package online before a House vote. "We will certainly give as much notice as possible, but I'm not going to say that 72 hours is going to be the litmus test," said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Friday.
"The House bill or Senate bill, as proposed, has been online for some two-and-a-half months, otherwise known about 75 days," Hoyer added, referring to the November and December dates each chamber passed its version of health care legislation.
But Democrats could vote as soon as next week on a series of changes to the health care package - called a reconciliation bill - and the number two House Republican criticized Hoyer directly on House floor.
(CNN) – Prior to entering the House chamber to deliver his first State of the Union, President Obama was talking it up with Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander, John Cornyn, and John Thune and then turned to a larger group and declared: "We just brokered a health care deal right here."
A bit of levity on a serious subject right before Obama was to address the nation.
Washington (CNN) - Elected officials on Capitol Hill are planning to hold hearings in January to investigate the safety gaps in airline security, made more pronounced since the attempted bombing over Detroit on Christmas Day.
But one important officeholder, the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, likely won't be present at any of the hearings - simply because his nomination is being blocked in the Senate.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, has been holding up the confirmation of Erroll Southers to be TSA chief, in an effort to prevent TSA employees from joining a labor union. Southers is a former FBI special agent and counterterrorism expert.
"The attempted terror attack in Detroit is a perfect example of why the Obama Administration should not unionize the TSA and allow our airline security decisions to be dictated by union bosses," DeMint said in a statement. "I hope this incident will lead the President to re-think this policy and put the interests of American travelers ahead of organized labor."
Washington (CNN) - Foes of the House Democrats' health care bill rallied outside the Capitol Saturday afternoon, hours before what many of them anticipate will be a setback for their position - approval of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's bill.
"It may pass out of the House tonight. We do realize that," Jenny Beth Martin, event organizer for the Tea Party Patriots, said. "But there is the Senate still. And we are going to leave no stone unturned and fight the government taking over our health care."
Chanting "Kill the bill" and "Hell, no" throughout the nearly 90-minute rally, the few hundred attendees kept up their opposition despite having a much lower turnout than a similar rally held on Thursday.
More than a dozen Republican lawmakers spoke to the protesters and encouraged them to keep up the fight by speaking to wavering Democrats and their families, friends and neighbors about the legislation.
"Things that are done, it is needless to speak about...things that are past, it is needless to blame." - Confucius
WASHINGTON (CNN) – In a belated celebration on Wednesday, the House marked last month's 2,560th birthday of Chinese philosopher Confucius by passing a resolution recognizing "his invaluable contributions to philosophy and social and political thought."
But some members apparently prefer their Confucius confined to a fortune cookie rather than on the House floor. According to the vote tally, 47 voted against the birthday resolution and 13 voted "present," while 361 supported it.
"We love Confucius, but what a joke of a vote," Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told CNN.
"I can't go back to the people of Utah and say, 'Yeah, we're voting on Confucius today,'" said Chaffetz, who called the resolution "absurd." "How many more birthdays do we vote on before we start fixing the economy?"
The resolution's sponsor, Democrat Al Green of Texas, said on the House floor the resolution is meant to celebrate the "personal introspection" of the Chinese philosopher and his "respect of social relationships, personal and governmental morality."