In the House … Speaker Nancy Pelosi defeated Bush’s Medicare veto Tuesday, rescinding the president’s veto by 383-41. The Senate confirmed The House’s override vote by 70-26, effectively signing the bill into law. The bill will overturn a 10.6 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors who treat older Americans. The money that would have been saved by cuts in payments to doctors will instead come out of reimbursements to big insurance companies contracted with the Medicare program; those cuts are effective for 18 months.On Thursday, House Democrats failed for the second time to pass a bill that would require oil and gas companies to explore their existing land, a provision dubbed “use it or lose it.” The bill came 34 votes short of required two-thirds requirement, with a final vote of 223-195. The staff director for the House ethics committee has resigned , leaving the committee without a top leader in the run-up to the national conventions. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft testified to the House Judiciary Commitee Thursday in defense of the Justice Department’s recently released torture memos. “I don’t know of any acts of torture that have been committed,” Ashcroft said. “I would attribute the absence of an attack to the excellent work and the dedication of those whose lives are committed to protecting the country.” One of Kucinich’s articles of impeachment — on Bush’s case for invading Iraq– will get a committee hearing reported Monday that Rep. Charles Rangel of New York was sending out letters in congressional letterhead to solicit funds for the Charles Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York. Rangel, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, called on the ethics committee for a probe into his role in raising funds for the college . “I believe the review will show there have been no violations of the [House ethics] rules,” he said.
In the Senate … On Thursday The Senate passed a global AIDS bills , approving $48 billion over the next five years to treat and prevent the international spread of AIDS. The House is expected to pass the bill next week. Sen. Obama co-sponsored the bill; however, neither he nor McCain were present to vote. Also on Thursday, The Senate Banking Committee approveda bill to be considered that would expand both trade and economic sanctions on Iran. Senate leaders announced that debate over a new energy bill will start next Tuesday. A new Gallup poll released Wednesday revealed that Congress’ approval rating is at 14%, the lowest Congressional approval rating in the firm’s 34 years of tracking. The Senate is slated to take off for August recess a week ahead of schedule, Reid announced.
— Bobby Allyn