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GOP Hammers Hagel in Confirmation Hearing

Jan 31, 2013, 8:19 pm EDT
GOP Hammers Hagel in Confirmation Hearing

The difference between John Kerry’s confirmation as the next Secretary of State and Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel’s current confirmation hearing is like night and day.

While Kerry’s confirmation took the form of a bipartisan praise party for the long-time Democratic senator, and he earned near-unanimous confirmation by his peers, Hagel, a former senator himself (and a Republican to boot), has not been so lucky.

In his confirmation hearing today, Hagel faced tough questions from GOP senators on his defense policy and past remarks about Israel. In particular, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was particularly rough on Hagel, interrupting the nominee as he attempted to answer the questions asked of him. McCain was criticizing him for refusing to say whether or not he thought opposing the Iraq surge in 2007 was wrong. Read 

Obamacare Glitch Will Leave Some Families Without Insurance

Jan 31, 2013, 9:41 am EDT

While the goal of President Barack Obama’s health care law may have been to increase access to affordable health insurance coverage, a flaw in the way the law was written may have the exact opposite effect for some families.

Under the law, affordable health insurance is limited to a maximum of 9.5% of a family’s total income. Families with affordable coverage do not qualify for government-subsidized coverage available through newly-created health care exchanges. However, affordability is linked to the cost of single-person only coverage. Adding family members to an insurance plan typically drives the costs substantially higher, the Associated Press noted.

Insurance coverage for single employees costs an average of $5,600 a year, but a family plan can cost almost three times as much, typically about $15,700. A children’s advocacy group says the oversight in the way the law is written could result in 500,000 children failing to qualify insurance. Read 

Obama Confident Congress Will Pass Immigration Reform

Jan 30, 2013, 9:59 pm EDT

In spite of the bipartisan bickering that has defined Congress lately, President Barack Obama said he was confident they would pass immigration reform and gun control legislation in the coming months.

Obama expressed his beliefs in interview with Spanish-language television networks Univision and Telemundo today. During these interviews, he also indicated that illegal immigrants shouldn’t anticipate getting instant citizenship under his proposal.

“What we don’t want to do is to create some vague prospect in the future that somehow comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship will happen mañana. But we have to put that in place at the outset, and make sure people are clear that this pathway is real and not just a fantasy for the future.” Read 

Your Guide to the D.C. Shuffle (2013 Edition)

Jan 30, 2013, 12:00 pm EDT
Your Guide to the D.C. Shuffle (2013 Edition)

Despite GOP claims to the contrary, the bill they passed last week was a straightforward extension of the debt ceiling. The gimmicks in the bill don’t matter … but the reordering of the coming fiscal deadlines do.

The House Republican leadership finally gave up its longstanding position that any increase in the debt-ceiling would have to be accompanied by spending cuts, equal to the dollar amount that the debt ceiling was raised. So score one for Obama. Apparently the GOP actually believed him this time when he insisted that he would not negotiate over the debt ceiling again.

Of course, John Boehner had to save a little face. So, the bill was nuanced in two ways. Read 

Senate Confirms John Kerry as Next Secretary of State

Jan 29, 2013, 7:22 pm EDT
Senate Confirms John Kerry as Next Secretary of State

The United States Senate officially confirmed Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., as the next Secretary of State today in a nearly unanimous vote.

The vote for Kerry was 94-3, with only Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex., Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., and Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., voting against him. Kerry himself voted “present.”

Kerry’s swearing-in will likely take place this week. Hillary Clinton’s final day as Secretary of State is slated to be Friday. Read 

Senators Propose Sweeping Changes to Immigration Laws

Jan 28, 2013, 7:09 pm EDT
Senators Propose Sweeping Changes to Immigration Laws

A bipartisan group of senators announced today their plan to overhaul U.S. immigration law to provide a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, dependent on securing America’s borders first.

Senators Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and John McCain, R-Ariz., appeared at a press conference today to reveal their plan. Also brainstorming with these senators but not appearing were Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo.

The deal focuses on four areas of concern: border enforcement, employer enforcement, handling the flow of legal immigration, and pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants. McCain, in arguing in favor of a pathway to legal citizenship for illegal immigrants, said illegal immigrants ultimately deserve a chance to live legally in the U.S. and become citizens. Read 

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