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In late November, during a closely watched public debate, the Senate voted by a wide, bi-partisan margin to ban indefinite detention of American citizens. But now that the legislative process has moved behind closed doors, it's a completely different story.

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Stopping Congress from screwing up the Internet, again.

Earlier this year, people from all over the Internet rallied to stop SOPA and PIPA, the Internet censorship bills. That was great, but now members of Congress (and the telecom and media companies) are once again trying to destroy the Internet. With SOPA, they tried to give the government wide-ranging authority to shut down huge portions of the Internet. This time they're going to destroy the your privacy. But not if we can help it.

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For the first time ever, a congressional committee has voted to require the federal government and all states to recognize same-sex marriages. Yesterday, on a party-line vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Respect for Marriage Act, which states that, "for the purposes of any Federal law in which marital status is a factor, an individual shall be considered married if that individual's marriage is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a S

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DOMA Repeal Scheduled for First Ever Hearing

July 15, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

For the first time ever, a committee in Congress will hold a hearing on repealing the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act and requiring states to recognize all marriages that are considered valid in the state where the marriage was conducted. The bill in question, entitled the "Respect for Marriage Act," is scheduled for a July 20 hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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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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There's not a whole lot these days that the Republican House of Representatives and the Democratic Senate are eager to work on together. But there is at least one thing. On February 28th, three controversial provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act are scheduled to expire, and in the past couple of weeks Democrats and Republicans in both chambers have introduced several bills to reauthorize and extend them. In both chambers the committee chairmen who will be in charge of bringing the bills to the floor for votes have already signed on as supporters.

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Chalk one up for enhanced congressional oversight of secret intelligence programs. In the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal year 2010 that was passed under unanimous consent in the Senate on Monday night and is expected to go through the House of Representatives on Wednesday, there's a provision that would number of lawmakers who have to be informed about covert intelligence operations that the CIA is engaged in.

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A Breakthrough on Food Safety?

August 19, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Last week, an evenly bipartisan group of six senators from the Health, Education, Labor and Pesnsions Committee released a manager's amendment to the long-stalled Senate food safety bill (S.510) that they jope will provide the framework for moving forward. Hill folks are expecting this to come up before the Senate leaves for campaign season.

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