(CNN) - House Democratic leaders on Monday refuted embattled Rep. Eric Massa's allegation that they want to get rid of him because of his opposition to health care legislation.
"That's completely false. There is zero merit to that accusation," said Katie Grant, spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland.
An aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, also denied Massa's claim.
Massa, D-New York, announced Wednesday he would not seek re-election because of health concerns and denied reports that he had harassed one of his Capitol Hill staff members. Two days later, he said he would resign effective Monday.
The first-term congressman said he learned of an ethics investigation into his conduct after deciding to retire.
Programming Note: Rep. Eric Massa speaks out on Larry King Live, Tuesday 9 p.m. ET.
(CNN) - Embattled Rep. Eric Massa said Sunday that the ethics investigation surrounding him stems from a sexually laced conversation he had at a New Year's Eve wedding.
The New York Democrat said in his weekly radio show that he wasn't told about the ethics probe until after he decided to retire and that he first learned the details of the investigation from news reports.
While at a wedding for one of his staff members, Massa said he danced with the bride and bridesmaid as cameras rolled.
"Absolutely nothing occurred," while he was dancing, he said.
Massa said he then sat with some staff members who were all bachelors. In a conversation fueled by alcohol, one staff member "made an intonation to me that maybe I should be chasing after the bridesmaid," Massa said.
Massa said he told the staffer beside him, "Well, what I really ought to be doing is fracking you."
(CNN) - If this week's primary election in Texas is any indicator, incumbent Republicans can breathe a little easier.
Despite a handful of Tea Party challengers, all 11 of the incumbent House Republicans facing challengers came out on top.
In the lead-up to the election, James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas, said he heard legislators asking each other, "You got a Tea Party challenger? I do."
Jerry Ray Hall, who challenged Rep. Ralph Hall, the oldest member of the House, actually added "Tea" to his name to emphasize his support for the ideas of the Tea Party.
But as an organized movement, Henson said, "there was a lot more flash than bang."
(CNN) - Sen. Jim Bunning's decision to block a bill extending unemployment benefits was a smack in the face to struggling Americans across the country.
The Kentucky Republican demanded the extension be paid for instead of adding to the deficit, although in the past, he voted for similar extensions that did not include budget offsets.
Bunning relented, but critics still blasted him as tone-deaf, a label stapled to much of Congress over the past year.
While it's "extraordinarily rare" for Congress to be admired by the public, right now, the dissatisfaction with the legislative branch is intensified, said Norman Ornstein, a longtime congressional observer with the American Enterprise Institute.
"It's fairly clear that there's a high anger level that the public has with Congress - higher than we've seen it in a while, and up at levels comparable to what we've had with other wave elections that have brought substantial turnover," Ornstein said.
(CNN) - Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson joined Republican lawmakers in opposing President Obama's controversial nominee for the National Labor Relations Board.
Nelson said Monday he would vote against seating union lawyer Craig Becker on the five-member board because "he would pursue a personal agenda."
"This is of great concern, considering that the Board's main responsibility is to resolve labor disputes with an even and impartial hand. In addition, the nominee's statements fly in the face of Nebraska's Right to Work laws, which have been credited in part with our excellent business climate that has attracted employers and many good jobs to Nebraska," the Nebraska senator said in a statement.
Becker has served as an associate general counsel to the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO. Republicans have stalled his nomination because of his union ties and concerns that he would sidestep Congress and make pro-union changes to the law.
In a statement before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee last week, Becker said "should I be confirmed, I will always remain faithful to the will of Congress."
He also said he has represented "not simply unions but also individual employees, belonging to no labor organization, in diverse trades and professions - from prison guards to retail clerks, from hospital administrators to home-care workers."
(CNN) - President Obama's budget plan released Monday lays out legislative priorities destined to become political battles as he navigates his second year in office.
The budget process is difficult by nature since Republicans and Democrats have different spending policies. Democrats generally believe that government should help solve the nation's problems, while Republicans see more government involvement as a problem.
It's also difficult for Obama, who is trying to rein in the deficit and spur job growth at the same time.
Although there will be lots of back-and-forth about the big picture, there will also be intense arguments will on smaller items that affect specific states and districts.
"I'm willing to reduce waste in programs I care about, and I'm asking members of Congress to do the same. I'm asking Republicans and Democrats alike to take a fresh look at programs they've supported in the past to see what's working and what's not, and trim back accordingly," the president said Monday.
(CNN) - President Obama's proposed spending freeze could help him recapture the favor of centrist voters, but critics blast the move as nothing more than political posturing.
The president is expected to call for a partial, three-year freeze on discretionary spending in his State of the Union address Wednesday, according to two senior administration officials. The cuts, which Obama will say would save $250 billion, would not apply to national security spending and would not affect major entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.
The proposal comes as the president's poll numbers dip and concerns about the economy and the federal deficit flare.
It also comes after a shocking election loss for Democrats in Massachusetts, which many have interpreted as an expression of voter frustration with the way Washington is handling the economy.
(CNN) - Democrats and Republicans woke up this week with a fresh perspective on the midterm elections.
To many political observers, the election of Republican Scott Brown is a game changer. He overcame what at one point was a 30-point deficit to defeat Democrat Martha Coakley in a special election to serve out the remainder of the late Ted Kennedy's Senate term.
Democrats are trying to calm frustrated voters and make sure that recent losses in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia don't become a national trend. Republicans, still jubilant from last week's win, are hoping to capitalize on the excitement brewing from a refueled base.
Without a super-majority in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may need to step back before deciding how to move forward. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
(CNN) - The message from voters in Massachusetts has Democrats reassessing their next steps as they balance the risks of an election year with an agenda they can no longer push through on their own.
Republican Scott Brown's jaw-dropping victory Tuesday night in the special election to serve out the remainder of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's term stripped Democrats of their 60-seat majority in the Senate.
(CNN) - The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Thursday the coalition in the war-torn country is going to have to do things "dramatically differently, even uncomfortably differently" in order to succeed.
"We must operate and think in a fundamentally new way," Gen. Stanley McChrystal said in a speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a British think thank. He stressed the importance of connecting with the Afghan people, who he said are "frustrated" that more has not been accomplished in the nearly 8-year-old war.
McChrystal said he discounts immediately those who simplify the problem or offer a solution "because they absolutely have no clue about the complexity of what we are dealing with."
McChrystal arrived in Afghanistan in 2002. In June, he replaced Gen. David McKiernan as the top commander in the region. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said at the time that a "new leadership and fresh eyes" were needed.