Administration officials, in the first formal accounting to Congress on the Japan nuclear crisis, assured senators that US reactors are safe. But industry critics said much needs to be improved.
The Senate on Wednesday rejected both the big budget cuts of the House bill and the much smaller cuts of a Senate alternative. The ball is once again in the court of the 87 GOP House freshmen elected on last year's tea party wave.
Republican freshman – tea partyers and others – keep breaking ranks, leading to shocking legislative defeats. Now, 87 representatives and 11 senators have written to Speaker of the House John Boehner to insist on $100 billion in budget cuts.
Republican Sens. Richard Lugar of Indiana and Orrin Hatch of Utah could face tea party challenges in their 2012 primaries. But while Hatch is embracing the tea party, Lugar is fighting it.
House Republican leadership wants to rein in the federal budget by $32 billion from current spending levels. But some of the rank-and-file want $100 billion in cuts – or more.
With the Republican takeover of the House, the shortlist of lawmakers on the rise in both houses of Congress flips, too. Notable is the number of younger members to watch, especially those swept into prominence by the tea party surge. Because this House freshman class - 96 strong, including 87 Republicans - is the largest since 1992, those who speak for them, or claim to, have a leg up. So do those Democrats nimble enough to engage them. Here are ten to watch.
Tea Party Caucus: What the caucus and audience lacked in size they made up for in enthusiasm and energy. New Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., fired up the crowd along with Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., by preaching the gospel of deficit reduction
Despite evidence that Arizona shooting suspect Jared Loughner is mentally unstable, he was never declared mentally unfit by a court, so his name did not appear in the federal background-check database used by gun sellers.
Starting this Monday, the Senate welcomes 16 fresh faces to the Capitol’s marbled halls. While they won’t be sworn into office until January, these newly-elected members – three Democrats and 13 Republicans – come to Washington to tour the buildings, learn rules of decorum, and meet with their future coworkers. The new Senators come largely from open seats where both parties had a new candidate on the ticket and include a handful of tea partyers.