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If you want to break the partisan divide and get Democrats and Republicans in Congress to agree on something, just give them a bill that makes it easier for the government to spy on U.S. citizens without judicial oversight. Yesterday, the Senate voted 74-8, with 18 senators abstaining, in favor of moving forward with legislation to extend three of the most controversial PATRIOT Act surveillance powers for four more years, without any modifications. By contrast, the Senate has had to pull a small business jobs bill and two of Obama's judicial nominees from the floor after the Republicans mounted successful filibusters.

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9/11 Health Care Bill Passes Congress

December 23, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Capping off an unusually productive lame duck session, the congressional Democrats have finally won passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The bill, which would provide health care benefits and financial compensation for first responders at Ground Zero who were exposed to toxins and are now sick, had been the subject of a partisan stand-off for years. Republicans in the House and Senate blocked the bill earlier this year, but yesterday, after everyone from Jon Stewart to Rudy Giuliani to Fox News' Shep Smith joined the chorus calling for the bill's passage, Republicans backed down and let the bill go through.

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Progress for 9/11 First Responders' Health Care Bill

December 20, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health Compensation Act, which would help first responders at Ground Zero who were exposed to dangerous toxins access medical care, has been kicking around Congress for nearly two years. It finally passed the House earlier this fall, but it was recently filibustered by Republicans in the Senate.

Now, the Republicans didn't filibuster this because they hate 9/11 rescue workers. And it's actually not because it would add to the deficit either. It's fully offset. The reason Republicans filibustered the bill is because it would have financed the new health benefits by closing a loophole that allows companies to incorporate in tax havens and avoid paying taxes on business they conduct in the U.S.

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The heads of the Pentagon and the Justice Department have urged House leaders to reject any legislation preventing the government from prosecuting alleged terrorists in civilian courts or military commissions. As I mentioned earlier, a bipartisan coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats are pushing a House (H.R.4556) and Senate bill (S.2977) that would prevent government dollars from being spent on civilian trials for five alleged 9/11 co-conspirators including Khalid Sheikh Mohamme...

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Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] is the latest in a growing chorus line of conservative and moderate Democrats opposing President Obama’s plan to try 9/11 suspects in New York. As I mentioned before, Sen. Lindsey Graham [R, SC] has sponsored a bill (S.2977) banning government dollars from going toward any civilian trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged 9/11 conspirators. A handful of Democrats including Sen. Jim Webb [D, VA], Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR] and now Sen. Nelson are co-spon...

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