Hagan commits to health insurance option
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, who has been the focus of an intense lobbying campaign, said Thursday that she is committed to a compromise health-care proposal that would provide an alternative to private insurance.
Hagan said she supports what is called the community health insurance option, which would be a government-backed plan available to people who cannot get their insurance from employers.
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Hagan commits to health insurance option
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan will support Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, but U.S. Sen. Richard Burr isn’t ready to commit.
Sotomayor spent last week answering questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee about her record. The committee will begin debate today on whether to recommend her. The full Senate, including Hagan and Burr, would then cast the final vote on her confirmation.
WASHINGTON — U.S. senators began debate Tuesday on legislation that would allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate cigarettes, an idea that has the strong backing of public health advocates across the country.
Standing in their way were the two senators from North Carolina. Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Kay Hagan teamed up for the first significant issue in their short time together in the Senate, offering arguments to weaken the effects of a popular bill that, they fear, could decimate a historic industry in their state.
North Carolina is the nation’s top producer of tobacco, growing $686 million worth of leaf last year on 12,000 farms. The state’s tobacco manufacturers, from the behemoth R.J. Reynolds to boutique companies, put 10,000 people to work.
Published: May 13, 2009
RALEIGH – U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., said yesterday that she would like to cut the amount of international aid provided in President Obama’s budget plan, but she largely praised the proposal as fiscally responsible even though it shatters records with a deficit of more than $1.8 trillion.
Hagan, a former state budget writer, said she opposed Obama’s plan to cut $400 million out of a program that helps law-enforcement agencies offset the cost of incarcerating illegal immigrants who have committed crimes. Her only proposed cut was to international aid, and she largely praised increased spending on teachers and rural health care.
“President Obama is making a serious effort to rein in the fiscal irresponsibility which has plagued us for too long by cutting the deficit in half by the end of his first term,” Hagan said in a written statement.
**NOTE** – Umm, I’ll have the anti-freeze without the arsenic please.
MONDAY, MAY 11, 2009
By MARK BINKER
Sen. Kay Hagan was the lead Democratic co-sponsor of a measure designed to help African American farmers recoup funds awarded in discrimination cases against the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Along with Republican Charles Grassley of Iowa, Hagan introduced legislation to create an unlimited judgment fund at the Department of Treasury to pay successful claims. The bill is connected to a class-action lawsuit, Pigford v. Glickman, which was settled in 1999. In the suit, black farmers claimed they were denied loans and other government assistance given to white farmers.
Hagan can’t stop big increase in cigarette tax
Rob Christensen, Lynn Bonner and Ryan Teague Beckwith – Staff Writers
Published: Mon, Feb. 02, 2009 12:30AMModified Mon, Feb. 02, 2009 12:43AM
Freshman U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan voted for a program last week to expand the health insurance program for children but not before making a symbolic effort to reduce the size of the cigarette tax hike that pays for it.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 20
Hagan, a Greensboro Democrat who took her seat this month, voted last week to release $350 billion that makes up the second half of the bailout funds Congress approved last fall. During the campaign, Hagan said she would have voted against creating the Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as TARP.
It did not escape critics at the time that Hagan voiced her opposition only after Republican Elizabeth Dole, the incumbent she defeated, cast a vote against the bill. And many of those same critics noted Hagan’s change in position.
“Senator Hagan is going to have some explaining to do on her first trip home,” Brent Woodcox, a spokesman for the North Carolina Republican Party, wrote on the party blog.
But Hagan isn’t alone in changing her position. Republican Sen. Richard Burr voted for the original bill, protesting that he really didn’t want to. Last week, Burr voted against releasing the money.
Burr spokesman Chris Walker said the original bill was designed to let Congress reassess the money’s effect before releasing a second installment.
“We’ve seen some stabilization of the financial markets but no clearly communicated strategy for taxpayer involvement,” Walker said Monday. “Senator Burr felt we needed to better understand the future need, if any, required to improve the economic outlook.”
For her part, Hagan issued a statement explaining her change in position this way: “I opposed the initial bailout because I was concerned that it did not do nearly enough to help working families in North Carolina.” In a news release, Hagan criticized outgoing President George W. Bush for his handling of the money.
“When I spoke with President-elect (Barack) Obama earlier in the week, I made it clear that I could not support this package without his assurances that the American people would have the accountability and transparency they deserve,” Hagan said. “With the assurances I received from the incoming administration, I believe Main Street will be on its way towards recovery.”
The House passed an expansion of the health insurance program for children, known as SCHIP, on a 289-139 vote Wednesday. The program is jointly funded by the federal and state governments. The estimated $33 billion cost of the bill would be covered in part by increasing the federal cigarette tax from 39 cents to $1 a pack.
Democrats Brad Miller and Mel Watt voted for the bill.
Republicans Virginia Foxx and Howard Coble voted against.
The Senate passed a lands bill that would designate more than 2 million acres as wilderness, mostly in Western states. The bill also designated former President Bill Clinton’s childhood home in Hope, Ark., as a national historic site.
Burr voted no. Hagan voted yes.
Lack of credit
You know an economic crisis is bad when Congress can’t get a loan.
But even as Rep. Mel Watt considers bailout bills and economic stimulus packages, that’s pretty much the problem he ran into at the beginning of this year.
House members can lease cars two years at a time as a perk of office. Watt had been rolling in a Toyota Prius but wanted to give some business to American auto manufacturers, given their recent travails.
“I called a Saturn dealership and said, ‘Y’all got a lease program?’ They said, ‘No, GMAC won’t finance our leases anymore,'” Watt said, referring to the financing arm of General Motors. An arrangement with another bank had also fallen through for that dealership.
Watt eventually did find someone to write the lease on a Saturn.
“That shows you this is real out there,” he said. “This is the government, the government pays that lease…and you couldn’t find anyone to provide the lease to us.”
Whips and jobs
Burr got a bump in title last week as he was promoted to “chief deputy whip” for the Senate Republicans. He’ll be responsible for helping keep GOP votes in line on occasions where adherence to party orthodoxy is paramount.
Hagan was appointed to the Armed Services and Health, Education Labor and Pensions committees. The Democrat had been hoping for a Banking Committee seat, but more senior senators crowded her out.
The Armed Services Committee is particularly important to North Carolina because of the high concentration of military bases in the state.
lRep. Virginia Foxx will be helping to lay down some rules in the House. She was assigned to the Rules Committee, which helps control the flow of legislation.
About this column
If you’ve waded this far, a few questions might be coming to mind: “Hey, I don’t remember the paper having a Washington feature.”
That’s because we just fired this one up. Washington Watch will appear Tuesdays, and the idea is to keep tabs on our federal legislators and news from Washington that affects the Triad.
If you have suggestions or questions, drop staff writer Mark Binker an e-mail at the address below.
Contact Mark Binker at (919) 832-5549 or firstname.lastname@example.org