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Monday, Dec 22nd

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Franken Named Winner of Minnesota Senate Race; Coleman Concedes

Democrat Al Franken won Minnesota’s disputed U.S. Senate seat as a loss at the state Supreme Court prompted Republican Norm Coleman to concede.

“I congratulate Al Franken” on his victory, Coleman said at a news conference outside his home in St. Paul.

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Congress Ignores WH Veto Challenge Over Fighter Jets

Congress is moving forward with plans to fund the construction of additional Lockheed Martin F-22 fighter jets, even though the Obama administration has said the president would veto such a move.

A Senate panel on Thursday approved $1.75 billion to build seven more F-22s and the House of Representatives voted in favor of a Defense Department funding bill that would allocate more funds for the planes, the New York Times reported. Both chambers are also asking for a report from the administration on possibly exporting the planes to Japan and other allies.

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Members of U.S. House Financial Services Committee snapped up or dumped bank stocks as bottom fell out of market

As financial markets tumbled and the government worked to stave off panic by pumping billions of dollars into banks last fall, several members of Congress who oversee the banking industry were grabbing up or dumping bank stocks.

Financial disclosure records show that some of these Financial Services Committee members, including Ohio Rep. Charlie Wilson, made bank stock trades on the same day the banks were getting a government bailout from a program Congress approved. The transactions may not have been illegal or against congressional rules, but securities attorneys and congressional watchdog groups say they raise flags about the appearance of conflicts of interest.

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Lawmakers press Obama on 'don't ask, don't tell'

Seventy-seven House members are urging President Obama to suspend the investigation and discharge of military personnel because of their sexual orientation.

“We urge you to exercise the maximum discretion legally possible in administering don't ask, don't tell until Congress repeals the law,” the lawmakers wrote to Obama on Monday.

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Sen. Ensign resigns GOP leadership post

Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, who admitted on Tuesday carrying on an extramarital affair with a woman who was on his campaign staff, has stepped down from his leadership post, the Associated Press reports.

Ensign was chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, the fourth-ranking spot in the leadership.

TVNL Comment: Another member of the Christian family values party

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Insider Trading in Congress? Very Suspicious Trading By Senate's No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Illinois Senator Dick Durbin's financial disclosure statement shows that:

    ... he sold mutual-fund shares worth $42,696 on Sept. 19, the day after thenTreasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke urged congressional leaders in a closed meeting to craft legislation to help financially troubled banks. The same day, he bought $43,562 worth of Berkshire Hathaway's Class B stock, the disclosure shows...

Guess what happened 4 days later? On September 23, Berkshire Hathaway announced that it was investing $5 billion in Goldman Sachs.

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Senators held stock in bailed-out banks

Senators who oversee the $700 billion Wall Street rescue package held stocks in many of the banks bailed out towards the end of last year, according to financial disclosure reports released Friday.

According to the reports detailing senators’ finances in 2008, nearly half of the members of the Senate Banking Committee had holdings in financial institutions that have taken funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The panel has jurisdiction over the bailout fund and other relief efforts directed by federal regulators to save the nation’s financial system.

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