- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 27, 2010

SENATE

Byrd in hospital, seriously ill

Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who holds the record as the longest-serving member of Congress, is seriously ill in a Washington-area hospital.

The West Virginia Democrat’s office says the 92-year-old lawmaker has been in the hospital since late last week.

At first he was believed to be suffering from heat exhaustion and severe dehydration. But his office says in a statement doctors have examined Mr. Byrd and other medical conditions have developed. His condition is described as serious.

The statement does not name the hospital.

In November, Mr. Byrd broke the record for congressional service that had been set by Democrat Carl Hayden of Arizona, who served in the House and Senate from 1912 to 1969.

Mr. Byrd began his career in Washington in 1952 with his election to the House. His elevation to the Senate came six years later.

Mr. Byrd has been in frail health in recent years and was hospitalized three times in 2009. He has been confined to a wheelchair, but was present and voted “yes” for final Senate passage of the health care reform bill in March.

Mr. Byrd has been the longest-serving senator since June 2006 and was elected to an unprecedented ninth term in November 2006.

VICE PRESIDENT

Cheney reported feeling much better

One of Dick Cheney’s daughters says the hospitalized former vice president could go home on Monday after receiving medication to treat a fluid buildup related to his aggressive form of heart disease.

The 69-year-old, who has had five heart attacks, was admitted to George Washington University Hospital on Friday after experiencing discomfort. His last heart attack was in February.

Liz Cheney tells “Fox News Sunday” that her father is feeling better and hopes to be released on Monday.

Mr. Cheney’s office says Mr. Cheney has received intravenous medication and that he’s “markedly improved.”

ILLINOIS

Candidate subpoenaed for Blagojevich trial

CHICAGO | U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias said Sunday that he has been subpoenaed to testify at the corruption trial of ousted Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.

The first-term Illinois treasurer, a Democrat who’s locked in a contentious race for President Obama’s old Senate seat with Republican Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, told the Associated Press that he was subpoenaed by Mr. Blagojevich’s defense team.

Mr. Giannoulias’ name was mentioned briefly last week during Mr. Blagojevich’s trial. Former Blagojevich Chief of Staff John Harris was heard on federal wiretaps mentioning that Mr. Giannoulias had called about Mr. Obama’s old seat on behalf of someone else. Mr. Blagojevich is heard telling Harris not to meet with Mr. Giannoulias about the matter.

Mr. Giannoulias told the AP that he introduced a friend of Mr. Obama’s to Tom Balanoff, an official with the Service Employees International Union. The friend, Valerie Jarrett, was said to be Mr. Obama’s choice to replace him in the Senate after he was elected president.

Prosecutors say Mr. Blagojevich sought favors from the White House in return for Mrs. Jarrett’s appointment and delivered the message through Mr. Balanoff.

Mr. Blagojevich, 53, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he schemed to get a large payoff, a high-paying job after he left office or a big campaign contribution in exchange for the Senate seat. He also has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to launch a racketeering scheme using the power of the governor’s office.

If convicted, he could face up to $6 million in fines and a sentence of 415 years in prison, although he is certain to get much less time under federal sentencing guidelines.

“Tom Balanoff reached out to me to get in touch with Valerie because he didn’t know how to get a hold of her, and I put the two of them together,” Mr. Giannoulias said.

He said he also attended an informal meeting between Mrs. Jarrett and Mr. Balanoff shortly after Mr. Obama’s election, but “didn’t really participate in it” and doesn’t remember what they talked about. He said he never talked to Mr. Obama or Mr. Blagojevich about the matter.

On a federal wiretap tape, Mr. Blagojevich tells Harris not to meet with Mr. Giannoulias about the seat.

SUPREME COURT

Justice Ginsburg’s husband dies

Martin Ginsburg, the husband of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and a prominent lawyer in his own right, has died. He was 78.

The Supreme Court said in a statement that Mr. Ginsburg died at home Sunday from complications of metastatic cancer.

The Ginsburgs celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary last week. They met on a blind date as undergraduates at Cornell University.

Mr. Ginsburg was an expert in tax law and taught at New York University, Columbia University and Georgetown University over the course of his career.

Survivors also include two children, Jane and James.

A private burial will take place at Arlington National Cemetery.

SENATE

Levin urges U.S. delay Kandahar drive

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said the U.S.-led operation in Kandahar, a hotbed of insurgent activity in Afghanistan, shouldn’t move forward until more Afghan security forces can move into the city.

Sen. Carl Levin said there are fewer than 9,000 Afghan troops operating in and around Kandahar as the U.S. begins building up its own forces in the region to try to drive away the Taliban.

The Taliban has been using the southern city as its command center since the war began.

While Mr. Levin suggested the U.S. delay operations, he insisted that the U.S. stick with its plan to begin pulling troops from Afghanistan. Mr. Levin, Michigan Democrat, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that it’s up to the Afghans to take control of their country.

ARKANSAS

State must fund accused killer’s defense

LITTLE ROCK | The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected a request that it reconsider its order that a state commission fund the defense of a man charged with killing a soldier.

The ruling comes five weeks after the high court ordered the Arkansas Public Defender Commission to pay for Abdulhakim Muhammad’s attorney.

Mr. Muhammad faces capital murder and other charges in the June 2009 shooting death of Pvt. William Long and the wounding of another soldier outside a recruiting center in Little Rock.

He told the Associated Press last year that he thinks the shootings were justified because of U.S. military action in the Middle East.

SENATE

Concern may complicate Wall Street bill vote

President Obama’s efforts to win final approval of a historic financial-regulatory reform bill looked more complicated this weekend after a Republican senator threatened to oppose it.

“I was surprised and extremely disappointed to hear that $18 billion in new assessments and fees were added in the wee hours of the morning by the conference committee,” said Sen. Scott Brown, Massachusetts Republican.

He issued the statement after negotiators from the Senate and House of Representatives emerged from a marathon session early Friday morning with a final compromise on a bill that would bring about the most sweeping overhaul of financial rules since the 1930s.

The legislation would set up a new financial consumer watchdog, create a protocol for dismantling troubled financial firms and mandate higher bank capital standards - all in an effort to avoid a repeat of the 2007-2009 credit crisis that hammered the economy and triggered taxpayer bailouts of foundering firms.

In May, Mr. Brown was only one of four Republicans who voted for the Senate’s financial-regulatory reform package, which was approved, 59-39, with two members not voting.

Before that vote, Democrats had to overcome a Republican filibuster aimed at killing the bill and did that by the narrowest margin possible, 60-40.

Mr. Brown’s possible defection from the bill increases the chance of a successful Republican filibuster this time unless Democratic leaders can find another vote.

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