News July 6

Senator Sanders


Contractor Bonuses Faulted Federal agencies have awarded billions in bonuses to contractors regardless of whether the work was deemed satisfactory, according to The Washington Post. “The Pentagon and other federal agencies seem to live in a world where every contractor is above average," Sen. Bernard Sanders said of the Government Accountability Office report. LINK


The Gregg Spectrum In a profile of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and his short stint on the Senate health committee, Sen. Judd Gregg said Whitehouse is “clearly an anchor on the liberal side of the agenda,” but Gregg added that “Whitehouse is probably not out of the mainstream” and is likely to the right of Sens. Sanders and Sherrod Brown. LINK

Tea Party The Burlington Free Press went to a “Tea Party” in St. Albans, one of six rallies held around Vermont on Independence Day by a movement launched earlier this year to protest "out-of-control spending at all levels of government." A mention of Sens. Patrick Leahy and Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch, drew mild boos. LINK




Obama in Russia President Obama opened his first Moscow summit on Monday, a series of meetings sure to test his diplomatic skills like no other but already set to deliver some tangible progress on nuclear arsenal reductions and help for the fight in Afghanistan, The Associated Press reported. LINK


Standoff in Honduras The airplane carrying ousted president Manuel Zelaya was forced to circle over Tegucigalpa twice before flying away Sunday evening after coup leaders blocked his landing with troops on an airport runway. Security forces fired tear gas and bullets at a crowd of supporters to keep demonstrators away from the airport, The Washington Post reported. LINK


Oil Prices Fall World stock markets fell as oil prices slumped below $64 a barrel Monday amid concerns that any recovery in the global economy will be a long, hard slog following disappointing U.S. jobs data last week, AP reported. LINK




Bankruptcy Judge OKs GM Sale A bankruptcy judge has ruled that General Motors Corp. can sell the bulk of its assets to a new company, potentially clearing the way for the automaker to quickly emerge from bankruptcy protection. U.S. Judge Robert Gerber said in his ruling late Sunday that the sale was in the best interests of both GM and its creditors, whom he said would otherwise get nothing, AP reported. LINK


Health Bill Lobbying The nation's largest insurers, hospitals and medical groups are spending more than $1.4 million a day on lobbying. They have hired more than 350 former government staff members and at least 10 former members of Congress, including former House majority leaders Richard K. Armey and Richard A. Gephardt, both of whom represent a New Jersey pharmaceutical firm, according to The Washington Post. LINK


Congress Shifts Into High Gear Lawmakers return to the Capitol on Monday for a five-week blitz. The Senate will be occupied for much of the summer with confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Democratic leaders also hope to push health plans through the House and Senate before their summer break begins Aug. 8. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer are keeping lawmakers in Washington for five-day workweeks in July, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK


Climate Battle Moves to Senate President Obama's landmark energy and global warming bill squeaked through the House only after the White House made dozens of concessions to coal, manufacturing and other interests. Now, as the battle moves to the Senate, Obama faces demands for even more concessions -- including pressure to open the nation's coastlines to offshore oil and gas drilling, the Los Angeles Times reported. LINK




Vermont Stimulus Vermont has received $75.7 million as a result of the federal economic-stimulus legislation. That's about 10 percent of the $720 million the state expects to receive over two years from grants allocated by formulas, explained Tom Evslin, chief of the state's special office of economic stimulus and recovery. Evslin said the $75.7 million only included money that passed through state government. It didn't count extra dollars for Pell grants for college students, small-business grants or income-tax cuts and tax credits, The Burlington Free Press reported. LINK


Auto Lawsuits Because of legal fallout from the bankruptcies of Chrysler and General Motors, an Essex woman paralyzed in an auto accident is among thousands who may lose their day in court. Jim Gilbert, a Colorado trial lawyer who specializes in automotive product liability cases, said he’s asking members of Congress to work with the White House to set aside a fund for those with liability claims, Gannett reported. LINK


Green Mountain Coffee State and local economic development officials see Vermont's Green Mountain Coffee company as a bright spot in an otherwise depressing picture. The company's rise is a source of optimism, especially in Waterbury, which is confronting a loss of jobs with the proposed closure of its economic mainstay, the Vermont State Hospital. The specialty coffee company that was founded in a cafe 19 years ago now employs 1,400 people, The Burlington Free Press reported. LINK