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The first order of business as the Senate returns this week will be the reauthorization of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA. Depending on how things go down on the Senate floor, the bill could contain a provision targeting pesky advertisements, like the one pictured on the right, that mislead consumers about the safety and benefits of drugs. PDUFA was originally authorized by Congress in 1992 and it has been reauthorized every five years. The main purpose of the bill is to allo...

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With Iraq legislation out of Congress's hands for now (that's Iraq-bill crafters Murtha and Obey celebrating at right), we can start to look ahead to some other interesting and upcoming legislative battles in Congress. Here is a brief list of some bills that have recently been making progress in the long journey towards becoming law: On Thursday, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D, NJ) introduced a gun control bill that may be non-controversial enough to see some action despite the fact that the...

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Congress Hands Over Their Plan For Iraq

April 26, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

It's official: the bill that calls for U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq beginning in the fall has been passed from Congress and is now in the hands of President Bush. The Senate today joined the House of Representatives in passing the conference committee report on the bill that was agreed upon on Monday. In both chambers, Democrats passed the bill without a "no" vote to spare -- it got exactly the amount of "aye" voted needed for passage in both. The bill funds the wars in Iraq and A...

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"Culture of Corruption" Still Going Strong

April 25, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

It has been a tough month for Republicans when it comes to ethics. The Carpetbagger Report has this convenient rundown of currently ongoing ethics scandals involving Republican lawmakers: >-FBI agents raided Rep. John Doolittle’s (R-Calif.) (pictured at right) home, forcing him to step down from his seat on the House Appropriations Committee. > >-FBI agents also raided Rep. Rick Renzi’s (R-Ariz.) family business, forcing him to resign his committee assignments. > >-FBI officials have been...

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At 4PM on Wednesday, Congress will move one critical step closer towards initiating another fierce battle in the Culture War. That's when the House Judiciary Committee is planning to mark up H.R. 1592, a bill that would expand the definition of hate crimes to include crimes committed against a person based on their sexual orientation or gender. The bill would also allow the U.S. Attorney General to provide assistance to state and local officials in investigating and prosecuting hate crimes c...

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Earmarking Season Extended

April 23, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

It looks like senators will have a little extra time this year to enjoy their favorite, but least popular, pastime: submitting requests for their pet projects to be funded by the federal budget. The above email was circulated around Capitol Hill today to alert senators that the deadline, which was previously extended to April, 27, has been extended one again. Phew! h/t Rob Bluey...

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Reid Previews the Iraq-Bill Conference Report

April 23, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Congress has been working long and hard on a bill that funds the war in Iraq while putting more pressure on the Iraqi government to step up and setting a date for U.S. troops to be withdrawn. The bill has been passed in both the House and the Senate, and at 4:30 this afternoon negotiators from the two chambers will meet to hammer out some minor differences before sending it along to President Bush, who has repeatedly stated his intention to veto it. Much of the actual negotiating has been h...

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Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald Dies

April 22, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

California Representative Juanita Millender-McDonald, who was 68, died of cancer this morning. Earlier this week, she announced that she would be taking a a four to six-week leave of absence from Congress to deal with her illness. "Juanita Millender-McDonald was a trailblazer, always advocating for the full participation of all Americans in the success and prosperity of our country," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. "The dignity with which she faced her illness was an indicatio...

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Don't Despair, Just Stare at the Wall

April 20, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

If you want a daily reminder of where all the tax money that doesn't go into your paycheck actually goes, then put this stunning new poster up on your wall. You may be relieved just to see what a magnificent display the people at BudgetGraph.com can make materialize out of those dollars that seem to disappear so abstractly from your paycheck. The brand new "Death and Taxes" poster, which represents the entire 2008 federal discretionary budget as requested by President Bush, has just been re...

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Keep Helping Sunlight Help the Senate

April 20, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The Sunlight Foundation has made a lot of progress in their attempt to find out which senator has placed a secret hold on S.223, a bill to require senators to file their campaign finance reforms electronically. Help them put the pressure on the remaining main suspects so we can get to the bottom of this so the Senate can move forward with this important piece of transparency legislation. >Major media outlets are reporting that the Senator in question is definitely a Republican. Since we know...

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Two Transparency Bills "Held" In One Week?

April 19, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Robert Novak has an interesting article outlining how Jim DeMint's (R, SC) stand-alone bill to require full disclosure of earmarks played out in the Senate on April 12. Novak's main point is that senate Democrats kept DeMint's bill at bay to allow Robert Byrd (D, WV) (pictured at right) the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, to enact the tough-on-earmarks rule before him, in order to hold the appearance of Democrats as the pro-transparency party. >... the Democrats prepared carefully. ...

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The bill to give Washington D.C. residents their first-ever voting member of the House of Representatives and Utah an additional Representative, has been revamped and is back on the House floor today. When it came to the floor last month, it stalled because a group of Republican representatives attempted to attach a provision to it that would have lifted D.C.'s ban on semiautomatic weapons. It was originally numbered H.R.1433, but, after being being officially postponed on the House floor, a ...

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Here is the first report of President Bush's meeting today with the Democratic leadership to work out the stalemate over the supplemental war-funding bill. As expected, not much progress was made: >President Bush and Democratic leaders of Congress failed to reconcile key differences Wednesday over a disputed war-funding bill that would set deadlines for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. > >Bush met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Cabinet Room for more than an hour. Democr...

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via The Politico's The Crypt: >An anonymous Senate Republican has placed a "hold" on a bill by Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) to require Senate campaigns to file disclosure reports electronically. My guess is that it is Bob Bennett (R-UT). As we have reported in the past, he has some problem with this bill, which simply replaces an archaic, snail-mail-reliant campaign finance disclosure system with a more efficient one that is done electronically. As long as this ...

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Remember in March when Congress passed a bill that set an end date for the Iraq war? Well, the President didn't like it and he says he is going to veto it. But it hasn't happened yet. The bill is still in the negotiating stage, but, despite public opinion strongly on the side of Congress, it doesn't look like Bush is going to budge. On Wednesday, Democratic leaders Harry Reid (D, NV) and Nancy Pelosi (D, CA) (that's them on the right) will accept an invitation to meet with President Bush t...

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