Congress

In "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," Jimmy Stewart, right, portrays a senator who tries to use the filibuster for good. Now the threat of a filibuster is enough to stop votes.
Columbia Pictures | Wikipedia

In January, Republicans celebrated taking control of both gavels on Capitol Hill and promised to advance legislation important to their conservative base. After months of thwarted efforts and leadership compromises with Democrats to fund the government, the House majority is in disarray and Senate Republicans are considering a change in a longstanding rule that empowers the minority — a key function of the Senate as envisioned by the framers of the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo.
Jim Howard / St. Louis Public Radio

Military families would get added flexibility in moving to a new duty station under a bill introduced Tuesday by U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo., that he says will provide those families with “geographic stability.”

The measure would provide up to six months of housing assistance in both the current and new locations.  Blunt says that will allow working spouses to maintain an often vital second income while looking for new work or continuing coursework to further their career.  It also allows children to finish their current grade in school.  

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin
Official photo

The House Republican Conference is scheduled to select its candidate for speaker Thursday to replace John Boehner, who’s leaving Congress at the end of the month. The rifts in the Republican Party that led to Boehner's departure are reflected in the thinking of House Republicans from Missouri and Illinois.

Rep. Lacy Clay
St. Louis Public Radio

For Rep. Lacy Clay, D-University City, this week’s arrest of a 14 year old Ahmed Mohamed, of Texas, with his Muslim background and dark skin, is more proof the U.S. criminal justice system needs to be rebuilt in order to ensure equal treatment for people of color and whites. 

Clay adds that special attention needs to be paid to how inappropriate discipline, as early as pre-school, can leave a lasting impact and set a child on a path toward prison.

 

Patients entering the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis are often greeted by a line of protesters.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio | File Photo

Congressional hearings on Planned Parenthood will deal with abortion in general, as well as funding for that specific organization.

Melissa Ohden, of Gladstone, Mo., says she wasn’t supposed to be alive today. Instead, she says she was supposed to have been aborted 38 years ago this month. Ohden is scheduled to tell members of the House Judiciary Committee today that her biological mother, then a teenager, was “forced" to undergo a saline infusion abortion.

St. Louis Public Radio's Washington, D.C. reporter Jim Howard joined host Don Marsh to discuss what has and has not been accomplished during the congressional session thus far. Currently, Congress is in recess.

Issues Howard discussed include:

Wikipedia

From naming local post offices for fallen service members to changing the president’s signature health-care law, area lawmakers are beginning the 114th Congress ready to introduce a wide array of legislative proposals.

Every session of Congress sees far more bills introduced than could ever be considered, and most legislative proposals last only about as long as it takes a lawmaker to issue a news release announcing the bill’s introduction.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

A bipartisan group of senators is pressing forward with a reporter shield bill that includes new Justice Department guidelines for investigations that involve the media.

The guidelines announced Friday would make it harder for prosecutors to obtain journalists’ phone records without advance notice. Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri says the new bill will make it much more difficult for political appointees to stop reporters from doing their job.

Dr. Randy Jotte contends that his experience as an emergency room physician is just the type of "independent-thinking approach" needed in Congress.

Jotte, a Republican, says that's why he is jumping in to the already combative contest for the 2nd District congressional seat, which takes in parts of St. Louis and St. Charles counties. Two Republicans -- Ann Wagner, a former ambassador and state party chief, and St. Louis lawyer Ed Martin -- have been competing for months.

(via Flickr/League of Women Voters of California)

Dr. Randy Jotte contends that his experience as an emergency room physician is just the type of "independent-thinking approach" needed in Congress.

Jotte, a Republican, says that's why he is jumping in to the already combative contest for the 2nd District congressional seat, which takes in parts of St. Louis and St. Charles counties. Two Republicans -- Ann Wagner, a former ambassador and state party chief, and St. Louis lawyer Ed Martin -- have been competing for months.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated with comments from Costello's press conference and reaction from political figures.

A long-time political figure in the Metro East has announced he will not run for re-election.

(official photo via Missouri State Senate website)

A Republican state senator from suburban St. Louis has decided to remain in Jefferson City.

Jane Cunningham had been pondering entering an already-crowded GOP primary to fill the Congressional seat of Todd Akin, who wants to challenge Democrat Claire McCaskill in 2012.

But in a statement released today, Cunningham said she doesn't run for titles, and wants to hold a position where she can have the largest impact defending conservative values.

Mo. House Communications

A State House committee’s plan to redraw Missouri’s congressional districts is drawing fire from both urban and rural residents and from both political parties.

The state is losing a seat in Congress based on the latest U.S. Census figures.

(Wikimedia Commons/Online Guide to House Members and Senators)

Though he says a government shutdown would be "tragic," Missouri Democrat William Lacy Clay says he doesn't expect Republicans and Democrats to be able to reach an agreement on a budget for this year before a temporary spending plan expires next Friday.

The extension is the sixth since the federal budget expired in September 2010. And Clay says the U.S. House is in "total disarray," with Congressional Republicans choosing to advance policies simply to hurt the Obama administration.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says Congress needs to play by the same rules as everyone else.

Speaking at her St. Louis office on Sunday, the Democratic Senator unveiled a package of reforms she says will help bring transparency and accountability to Congress.

McCaskill proposed creating an independent watchdog office to oversee Senate operations and take complaints from the public.

As a progressive Democrat, I have a very different view of health-care reform than that of conservative Republicans. The dividing point is this: Do we, as a people, care enough about providing effective, affordable health care for everyone to put citizens' needs ahead of the financial interests of the health care industry?

U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Cape Girardeau, has gone on the air with her first campaign TV spot -- which features her in jeans talking about jobs, blasting Washington and "the government."

Emerson, who has been in office since 1996 and remains Missouri's first and only Republican woman elected to Congress, offers up an outside-the-beltway image as she heads into her latest re-election bid.

I have long believed that we should instruct our politicians:

Ask not what programs you can enact to burnish your legacy -
Ask what programs you can repeal to set our people free.

The recent dust up over the extension of unemployment benefits has given me an idea.