Vice President Dick Cheney: In Need of Heart Transplant?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After a lengthy recovery period following heart surgery last summer, former Vice President Dick Cheney is quietly and slowly re-emerging in public, attending several holiday cocktail parties and planning to attend an event marking the 20th anniversary of the Persian Gulf War, The New York Times reports.

The Times said that at several holiday receptions in Washington last month, a "noticeably thinner" Cheney chatted about the heart pump he had implanted last summer to treat his recurring heart disease.

Cheney's office did not immediately respond to a request by ABC News for comment.

The former vice president underwent the procedure last July after it became clear, he said at the time, that he was "entering a new phase of the disease" when he began to "experience increasing congestive heart failure."

"After a series of recent tests and discussions with my doctors, I decided to take advantage of one of the new technologies available and have a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) implanted," Cheney said in his statement then.

The LVAD is implanted next to the heart to help its main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, pump blood through the body. Such devices are used mainly for short periods, to buy potential transplant candidates time as they await a donor organ.

Cardiologists said that in Cheney's case, the pump is likely a "bridge" that will keep him alive until he can receive a heart transplant. Many cardiac experts said at the time of his surgery that Cheney may be only one step away from a transplant but could find himself on a wait list for "months or years."

"It's a really good strategy," said Dr. William Abraham, director of the division of cardiovascular medicine at Ohio State University, which does 75 to 100 implantations a year.

"It's reserved for people who have end-stage heart failure, and advanced and heroic therapies have been tried, and after folks have optimized evidence-based and guideline-recommended drug therapies," he said. "Their heart conditions have progressed to a state where the mortality risk is very high and they turn to LVADs and transplants."

The New York Times reports that Cheney associates said he has returned to his favorite pastime of hunting and has been spending time at his home in Jackson Hole WY., where he has been spotted at the grocery store and saw the film True Grit in recent days.

Cheney has a long history of heart problems. He has had five heart attacks, the first in 1978 when he was just 37 years old, and the fourth in November 2000, after he and former President George W. Bush were elected to the White House.

In 2001, Cheney had a pacemaker installed into his chest, and in September 2009, he underwent elective back surgery to treat lumbar spinal stenosis.

Cheney was admitted to the George Washington Hospital on Feb. 22, 2010 after experiencing chest pains. His doctors later said it was a mild heart attack -- his fifth. He was released two days later.

The Times reports that Cheney is scheduled to fly to Texas later this month to mark the 20th anniversary of the Persian Gulf War with former President George H. W. Bush, the emir of Kuwait and other alumni of the first Bush Administration, including former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft and Colin L. Powell, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time.

Cheney served as Secretary of Defense under George H. W. Bush.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Michael Burgess On a Vote to Raise the Debt Ceiling: 'I Will Not Go There Willingly Again'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- One of the many potential hot-button issues the new Congress could face is a vote to raise the debt ceiling, which is currently about $500 million short from the current $14.3 trillion limit. And, there are plenty of Republicans who don’t like the prospect of doing this one bit.

Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, told ABC News that “I have voted for it [to raise the debt limit] in the past and it was one of the worst things I ever did in my life. I will not go there willingly again.”

Burgess, like many of his Republican colleagues, wants to see significant cuts in spending before he makes any vote on raising the debt ceiling. “I think we should use this as an opportunity to really begin to get our arms around the amount of federal spending." Burgess said, “I understand that this is our opportunity to really get some meaningful change in the way this country spends its tax dollars. And the president has to be willing to work with us.”

As for the fate of the president’s health care reform law, Burgess predicted that the January 12 vote in the House to repeal the law entirely will not only succeed but that “the numbers will startle some people.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rahm Emanuel Clears Another Hurdle in Bid for Chicago Mayor

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CHICAGO) – A judge has ruled that Rahm Emanuel’s name will be allowed to appear on the ballot for Chicago mayor.

Cook County Judge Mark Ballard on Tuesday upheld a unanimous decision by the Board of Election Commissioners to allow Emanuel to appear on the February 22 ticket.
Opponents, however, say they plan to appeal the ruling despite the decision that Emanuel met the one-year residency requirement to run for mayor. Some argue that he was not a resident of Chicago during his time spent in Washington as President Obama’s chief of staff.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House Staffing: Daley and Sperling Possible Additions

Photo Courtesy - SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has spoken to Bill Daley, former commerce secretary under Bill Clinton, about becoming White House chief of staff, a senior White House official tells ABC News, though no final decision has been made.

In a separate move, ABC News can confirm that Obama administration official Elizabeth Warren, tasked with setting up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will this week name Holly Petraeus to a position where she will work to protect military families from predatory lenders. Petraeus is the wife of General David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

Two important conversations the president will have upon his return from vacation are with Pete Rouse, the interim chief of staff, and press secretary Robert Gibbs. It seems likely that both will find themselves working for the president in different capacities in the new year.

The first job decision to be announced will probably be Larry Summer's replacement as director of the National Economic Council. White House insiders believe Treasury official Gene Sperling has the edge over investment banker Roger Altman.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Elected As Cost Cutters, GOP Freshmen Party With Fatcats

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- They were elected on a promise to bring a frugal, belt-tightening agenda to a Congress known for profligate spending. But as the new Republican House majority got set to take command, a dozen GOP freshmen were headed to the luxurious W Hotel for a gala fundraiser that commanded $50,000 for VIP guests.

The event scheduled for Tuesday night will be held at a hotel that describes its own accommodations as "over the top," and will include a private concert by country music star Leann Rimes. The invite, sent to lobbyists, wealthy donors and political action committees, comes from America's New Majority, a group of newly-minted Republican congressmen that includes a half-dozen of the victorious Tea Party members.

Tickets are $2,500 per person, and a book of eight tickets and a VIP suite will set a donor back $50,000, according to the invite.

A sure sign the event is cutting against the GOP message of austerity was the frosty response from incoming House Speaker John Boehner, who tops the list of invited guests, but will not attend, according to his press secretary.

California freshman Rep. Jeff Denham was identified by Politico as the "man behind the event," and behind America's New Majority, a leadership fundraising committee.

"It's business as usual in Washington," said Jesse Ferguson, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "Despite running an anti-Washington Tea Party campaign, freshman Republicans are embracing the corporate special interest agenda even before they are sworn in."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Chief Justice John Roberts Swears in John Boehner's Staff

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Behind closed doors, Chief Justice John Roberts swore in members of House Speaker Designate John A. Boehner’s staff Tuesday morning during a private ceremony.

The Constitution requires all federal employees to take an oath to support the Constitution, but it’s not every day the oath is administered by the chief justice of the United States.

Kathy Arberg, the court’s public information officer says it is “not unusual” for the chief to perform such a ceremony. Recently, he has sworn in various ambassadors, board members of the Legal Services Corporation and the architect of the Capitol. Roberts also swore President Obama into office twice in January 2009. The first Roberts swearing-in of Obama was marred by a slip-up during the inauguration ceremony. He repeated the oath with Obama later in the Map Room.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sarah Palin Re-Tweets in Support of Gays

Photo Courtesy - Spencer Platt/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Sarah Palin has been conspicuously quiet in the debate over “don’t ask, don’t tell” and on a repeal of the policy President Obama signed into law before the holidays.  By most accounts, she has never actually weighed in at all.

But Monday night the former Alaska governor re-tweeted a post from conservative talk show host and blogger Tammy Bruce, who is lesbian, appearing to indirectly cast support for gays and an end to the ban on openly gay members of the U.S. military.

Bruce had been commenting on the controversy surrounding a U.S. Navy commander and a raunchy video when she turned to the issue of gays in the military.

“But this hypocrisy is just truly too much.  Enuf already--the more someone complains about the homos the more we should look under their bed,” Bruce tweeted, suggesting that virulent opposition to gays may reflect the individual has something to hide.

Soon after, Palin re-tweeted the message to her following of more than 350,000 followers.

“I think @SarahPalinUSA RT my tweet is her first comment on DADT, treatment of gays & attempts to marginalize us--thank you Governor,” Bruce responded on Twitter.

“I know Gov Palin & this "anti-gay" meme has been a lie--plain & simple. She's a decent woman & friend to the community,” Bruce said later.

A Palin spokesman has not yet responded to ABC News’ request for comment on the Twitter exchange.

Palin's son, Track, is an active duty member of the U.S. Army.  Her former presidential running mate, Sen. John McCain, led the opposition to legislative repeal of "don't ask, don't tell."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Weighs Move to Retain Control of Guantanamo Closure

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama may formally object to a provision that would prohibit the use of any funds to transfer detainees from the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to the United States for any purpose.

The provision -- attached to the defense authorization bill -- would be a critical blow to the president's stated goal of trying some Guantanamo detainees in civilian courts.  Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Congress late last year calling the provision "an extreme and risky encroachment on the authority of the executive branch to determine when and where to prosecute terrorist suspects."

A final decision on whether to issue a so-called signing statement, which was first reported by ProPublica, and its scope, has yet to be made by the president and his senior staff.

Signing statements are legal documents that a president issues to outline how he thinks a law should be implemented.  The statements can be largely ceremonial, explaining the president's view of the effects of the bill, or they can go as far as challenging the constitutionality of the provision and stating that the president will refuse to enforce it.

A White House official said Monday that even if the president decides to issue the signing statement, he will not seek to bypass the Guantanamo restrictions.  The statement instead would reflect Obama's intention to seek a reversal of the provision through Congress.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Michael Steele Defends Stormy RNC Chairmanship: ‘My Record Stands for Itself’

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Michael Steele offered a forceful defense of his two years at the helm of the Republican National Committee on Monday, focusing on his party’s success in the 2010 midterm elections while promising to do “better” if committee members elect him to another term.

"My record stands for itself,” Steele said. “We won.”

Steele shared a debate stage with four other candidates vying for the chairmanship, including one of his former confidants, Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Wisconsin GOP and until recently, the RNC’s general counsel.

Priebus has emerged as a leading contender for Steele’s job and at the forum, organized by Americans for Tax Reform, The Daily Caller, and the Susan B. Anthony List, the Wisconsin Republican pledged to be an “absolute workhorse” for the party.

Most of the candidates avoided taking direct aim at Steele, but rather leveled cautious criticism about the state of the party. They all emphasized the importance of being the party’s fundraiser-in-chief if elected, especially since whoever wins will inherit an RNC saddled with millions in debt.

But questions about Steele’s management of the committee loomed large over the 90-minute debate held at the National Press Club in Washington, and at one point Steele was forced to defend his shift away from the RNC’s traditional 72-hour voter turnout operation.

“We may have done it differently, but we found other ways to get resources,” he said, adding, “The idea that we didn’t fully fund it is really kind of a misnomer, ‘cause we did.”

When the five candidates were not weighing in on the internal dynamics of the RNC, they were fielding questions on a variety of social and political issues. All five, for example, agreed that the national party should stay out of primary fights in the states.

Steele, who has fewer public pledges of support from RNC committee members than Priebus, said if re-elected he would work to promote “strong, independent and engaged state parties.”

The 168 members of the RNC will vote for a new chairman on Jan. 14 at the party’s winter meeting in Washington.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Moving Day for Congress: Out with the Old, In with the New

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The halls of the congressional office buildings are packed with staffers waiting in line for office keys. Furniture clutters entryways waiting to be arranged. It's moving day for the new Congress.

For many of the 94 newly elected members, the journey that ended at the steps of Rayburn, Cannon and Longworth Monday morning began many miles away and with no thought of entering public life.

It's largest influx of new members of Congress in the House in nearly 20 years and it's mostly Republican. Eighty-five to be exact, with just nine lonely Democrats set to be sworn in on Wednesday. At least 35 of these newly elected members have never held elected office.

The Republicans unveiled their first major piece of legislation Monday night: the repeal of the Health Care Reform law. The legislation was posted online Monday evening, which means the first procedural vote on health care repeal will likely be Friday -- keeping their pledge to post all bills for 72 hours before holding a vote.

Vote on the repeal bill itself will follow on Wednesday, January 12.

That health care reform vote will be a largely symbolic vote, and a nod to the Tea Party, because there is virtually no chance repeal would pass the Senate. These new members will soon be in the midst of a potentially bigger battle over funding the federal government.

Tea Partiers, for their part, say they are watching Republicans closely in these opening weeks.

"We plan to watch these people just as closely as we did the Democrats over the past two years," Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, told ABC News. "If they don't do what we expect, they will see the same kind of intense pressure the Democrats did. It's fair to say no one is safe."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

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