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Dealing WIth Libya

June 3, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

House Republicans have finally decided on how to deal with the growing discontent over that pesky, probably unconstitutional war in Libya. They're going to put the Dennis Kucinich [D, OH-10] withdrawalresolution that they pulled from the floor earlier in the week because it might have passed back on the calendar for a vote Friday. But they're also going to hold a vote on a new, non-binding resolution, from Speaker John Boehner [R, OH-8], that criticizes that Obama for not go through the proper channels in authorizing the war and requiring him to provide Congress with detailed info about the rationale behind getting involved. The strategy: give anti-war and constitutionalist Reps. something meaningful to vote for, but also give middle-of-the-road Reps. a way to allow Obama to continue his war but still be able to tell their constituents that they voted against it.

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The Week Ahead in Congress

April 11, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

With a deal in place on funding the government for the rest of the fiscal year, the House and Senate now have to go through the motions of actually putting the appropriations legislation into effect. As of Monday morning, the House Appropriations Committee is still drafting the legislative language of the deal, and they're not expected to unveil an actual bill until late Monday night. As you'll see below, the bill is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday, which suggests that once again the House leadership is going to exploit the weak language of their "read the bill" rule and make the bill available for public review for far less than 72 hours, the minimum standard of public availability before votes they themselves promoted on the campaign trail. Of course, we'll be doing everything we can to get the bill text online for commenting and sharing as soon as it's released. With all of the controversial policy riders that have been involved in the closed-door negotiations with the bill, folks with interests in just about any major political issue are going to have something to look for in the text.

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Sunlight Foundation reports that the bill to defund NPR that the House is set to pass this afternoon violates the Republicans' pledge to make all legislation publicly available online at least 72 hours prior to being voted on. In this case, the bill was only available to the public and Congress for less than 48 hours before the vote. And, of course, it hasn't had a single committee hearing or mark-up, and it's being brought to the floor under a closed rule that limits debate to one hour and does not allow amendments.

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112th Congress: Day One

January 4, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The new, 112th Congress officially begins today, and for the first time since 2006, the Republicans will be in control of one of the chambers. Having netted 63 House seats in the November midterms, the Republicans are going into this session with a solid 242-193 majority over the Democrats. In the Senate however, the Democrats have managed to hold onto control and will gavel-in with 53 seats to the Republicans' 47.

This will be the first session of Congress with the two chambers split between the two major parties since the 99th, which took place during years 5 and 6 of the Reagan Administration. During that session, Democrats and Republicans teamed up to pass a landmark deficit-reducing bill that, after a couple revisions, helped to take what was at the time a record federal deficit and produce the budget surpluses of the late 1990s. The Republicans in the Senate also used that pesky budget reconciliation process to pass a health care bill that protects people who lose their jobs from also losing their insurance coverage. And guess what else ...they also passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill that included a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

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25 Bills Rushed in 2009

January 12, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

In 2009, Congress rushed a total of 25 bills to the floor without posting them online at least 72 hours beforehand for public review. That includes a lot of major pieces of legislation, like the stimulus bill, cash for clunkers, and a bill to make the estate tax permanent.

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