Before becoming chief congressional correspondent for the Examiner, Susan Ferrechio was a reporter for Congressional Quarterly and prior to that, covered education for the Miami Herald. She also covered education and Congress for the Washington Times. Ferrechio is presently reporting on the House and Senate.
Why you like your job:This is a front-row seat to the most exciting legislative and political stories
As the Senate prepares to vote on its version of health care legislation, one of the most contentious issues will be a provision requiring employers to provide insurance coverage.
With the jobless rate at 10.2 percent and expected to climb, penalties for employers who don't offer insurance benefits will make it difficult for moderate Senate Democrats to support the plan.
While most big companies provide workers with health insurance, many smaller employers do not, and they would end up having to come up with the money to either buy coverage or pay a penalty. Read More
Liberal House Democrats are intent on stripping language from just-passed House health care legislation that would block most federal funding of abortion.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fa., told reporters on Monday that she will fight to make sure it is not included in a final compromise bill merged together by the House and Senate.
Now that the House has passed major health-care legislation, the pressure is building on Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to pass a bill by President Obama's Christmas deadline.
Reid has an even harder task in front of him than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did. She barely pushed her bill over the threshold late Saturday night by a vote of 220 to 215, despite holding an 81-vote majority. Pelosi lost almost 15 percent of her members. If Reid loses one member of his 60-vote majority, his bill might be doomed. Read More
House Democratic leaders held last-minute negotiating sessions as they worked to round up enough support to pass a sweeping health care bill scheduled for a vote as early as Saturday.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said he believes there are very close to the 218 Democratic backers needed to pass the $1.05 trillion bill, which mandates health insurance coverage and creates a government-run insurance program. But several outstanding issues remain and the outcome was still uncertain. Read More
Republicans pounced on the latest unemployment report from the Department of Labor as evidence that Democrats' $787 billion stimulus plan was a waste of money and that the House health care bill set for a vote as early as Tuesday could kill an additional 5.5 million jobs.
The Department of Labor Friday announced the jobless rate has climbed to 10.2 percent, the highest level in more than 25 years. Read More
The Congressional Budget Office Wednesday night released its cost analysis of the Republican health care plan and found that it would reduce health care premiums and cut the deficit by $68 billion over ten years.
The Republican plan does not call for a government insurance plan but rather attempts to reform the system by creating high-risk insurance pools, allowing people to purchase health insurance policies across state lines and instituting medical malpractice reforms.
With the clock ticking on a health care overhaul, Democrats in the House worked furiously to win the support of a faction of moderates in their party while Senate Democrats wondered whether they would simply run out of time this year and be forced to wait until 2010 to try to pass a bill.
"We're not going to be bound by any time lines," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday. "We need to do the best job we can for the American people. We want quality legislation, and we're going to do that." Read More
As Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., pushes global warming legislation forward, some Democrats were showing a hint of frustration with their party's agenda.
"I just don't think climate change is going to be on the floor this year," Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said. "Trying to restart our economic engine and trying to get this country back to work -- to me that is the most important issue."
Republicans boycotted Boxer's Environment and Public Works Committee hearings on the climate bill, authored by Boxer and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. Read More
The First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit aimed at boosting home sales allows low- and middle-income earners to claim a credit of up to $8,000 for a first-time home purchase. The $13.8 billion plan was part of the stimulus package passed in February and so far the Internal Revenue Service has processed 1.5 million claims. Lawmakers are considering a plan to extend the program, set to expire at the end of the month, through March. An audit found widespread mistakes and outright fraud including: Read More
- The White House last week announced more than 640,000 jobs were created or saved by spending $159 billion in stimulus funds, but economists question the figure, saying it is impossible to calculate jobs that are saved. ABC News calculated each job cost taxpayers $160,000.
- More than half the jobs were in education, not the private sector, as promised by the Obama administration. Just 80,000 jobs were in construction. Read More
The most liberal factions of the House sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, telling her that the House health care bill must strengthened to ensure the government-run insurance plan is not subjected to triggers or an "opt out" mechanism.
The letter was signed by the chairs of the Progressive, Black, Hispanic, and Asian-Pacific Islander caucuses, whose combined membership is more than 100 members of the 256-member Democratic caucus.
Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who has threatened to hold up the House health care bill over language he believes would permit taxpayer dollars to be spent on abortions, may not even vote on the bill if it comes to the floor for consideration this week.
Stupak's mother-in-law, Elaine Olsen, died suddenly on Sunday and he is not expected to be in Washington D.C. this week.
House Republicans Tuesday launched a new Website - healthcaretruth.amplify.com - that breaks down the provisions in the Democratic health care reform bill with explainer notes from GOP members.
Now, this is purely GOP perspective on the bill, but the site posts the actual language so the reader can also make an independent judgement.