Bel Air, Maryland (CNN) – If Republicans take back control of the House of Representatives in November their path back to power starts just a short drive from Washington, in Maryland's first congressional district.
In what's shaping up to be one the most competitive House races this year, Democratic freshman Congressman Frank Kratovil is fighting to keep his job. He's facing public anger at congressional spending, and an opponent who is trying to tie him to President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as their popularity has dropped. That could spell trouble in a district that John McCain won by almost 19 points in 2008.
In an interview with CNN Friday Kratovil dismissed polls that show he's extremely vulnerable, but acknowledged that voter anger about government red ink is part of a broader distrust with politicians running Congress.
"I think it's not just frustration with the spending. There is a frustration with government in general," Kratovil said. "I mean we're losing faith in our institutions, we're losing faith in our elected officials," he added.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed snags in Senate health care reform negotiations and insisted Thursday the House will pass a bill that includes a government run health care option to compete with private insurers.
"I have every confidence that we will have a public option coming out of the House of Representatives," Pelosi said at her weekly press conference.
Pelosi made it clear that a government run insurance plan is a central piece of the bill being drafted by House Democrats. "I'm saying we will have a public option in the House that will be real. If it's not real, it's no use doing. And if we don't do a public option, I'm not sure that we have as effective a public health care reform as we wished."
Without giving any details on how House Democrats will pay for their plan, the Speaker repeated her commitment that health care reform will not add to the deficit. She downplayed this week's Congressional Budget Office cost estimate of the bill being considered by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. That estimate showed the cost at $1 trillion and said millions of Americans would remain uninsured. Pelosi said that CBO's estimate applied to a bill that "is a separate subject from what the legislation that we will put forth in the House."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - On the same day House Republican leaders accused the administration of endangering national security by possibly transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees to the U.S., House Democrats demanded President Obama submit a plan to Congress within six months spelling out what the administration will do with the prisoners when it closes the facility.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wisconsin, Thursday added the requirement to the $96.7 billion war funding bill for Iraq and Afghanistan. It directs the administration to provide details on where Guantanamo prisoners would be transferred, the cost of shutting down the facility and the cost of securing prisoners at other detention centers. The report is due by Oct. 1, 2009.
Earlier this week, Obey denied the administration's request for $80 million to close down the prison in Cuba, saying "so far as we can tell there is yet no concrete program for that." Although he supports the President's plan to close the facility, Obey told reporters on Mondayhe needed to see more details before signing off on any funding.
Obey took the issue a step further Thursday by attaching the demand for a report to must-pass legislation.
(CNN) - House Republican Leader John Boehner is known for regularly poking fun at reporters about their hairstyles. But at his weekly press conference on Thursday he couldn't contain himself.
As he launched into his regular refrain about the Democrats' budget, saying it "spends too much, it taxes too much, and it borrows too much", he stopped himself - trying to hold back laughter during his own opening comments.
He quickly singled out a young print reporter, telling him, "You really do need to do something with that hair of yours." As reporters laughed, he joked, "I couldn't wait any longer."
He went on to finish his opening comments, but before calling on the same reporter, he teased, "Get a brush, would ya?"
The reporter had good sense of humor about the crack from the Ohio Republican, and shot back, "I'll get a haircut if you pay for it."
When Boehner called on the next reporter, he referred to him as "the bald guy."
But Boehner didn't confine his critique to male members of the Capitol press corps. When a female reporter, wearing her long hair pulled back, prefaced her question by joking that she hoped her hair was ok, Boehner couldn't resist: "You mean what's wadded up in the back of your head?"
Some reporters chuckled, but others thought the GOP leader was being a little harsh.