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No Action on The American Jobs Act This Month

September 19, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Yet another sign that Congress isn't taking the jobs crisis seriously, this time from the Senate Democratic Whip, Dick Durbin [D, IL], on CNN:

CROWLEY: When is his jobs bill getting on the Senate floor? [...]

DURBIN: I think that's more realistic it would be next month.

CROWLEY: Next month. OK.

 

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DREAM Act Gets Its First Hearing Ever

June 29, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The DREAM Act, a bill that would give citizenship status to some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, received its first ever Senate committee hearing yesterday. The bill has been stalled in Congress since 2001. Yesterday's hearing indicates that Democrats, with support from the White House, are launching a major effort to rally support around this ahead of the 2012 elections.

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Senate Rejects Delay of Swipe Fee Reform

June 9, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The banking industry lost a vote on Capitol Hill yesterday for what seems like the first time since the first TARP attempt was rejected in 2008. The question was if the Federal Reserve's new rules limiting how much banks can charge retailers for debit transactions, as mandated by last year's financial regulatory overhaul bill, should go into effect this summer as scheduled or be delayed for a year, giving banks more time to lobby against it. In the end, a majority of the Senate voted in favor of the delay (54-45) but it wasn't enough to overcome a procedural hurdle and it was ultimately rejected.

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Senate Votes to Rein in Debit Fees

May 14, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The Amendment votes continue to roll in on the financial reform bill. The most substantial amendments adopted to the bill recently have to do with reforming the credit rating agencies -- one from Sen. Al Franken [D, MN] and one from Sen. George LeMieux [R, FL]. You can read about them here.

There are smaller amendments being continually added to the bill as well, either by unanimous consent or through roll call votes that just aren't getting much media attention. But some of these unnoticed amendments could end up having big impacts. Sen. Dick Durbin's [D, IL] amendment adopted yesterday to rein in the largely unregulated debit card market is a good example.

 

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Under the financial reform bill that the Senate is currently debating (the Restoring Financial Stability Act of 2010), payday lenders would be subject to new regulations promulgated by the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to ensure that their services are "fair, transparent, and competitive." Depending on how aggressive the Bureau ends up being, the rules could severely limit the terms under which payday lends could do business.

But while the underlying bill isn't good for the payday loan industry, an amendment being proposed to it from Sen. Kay Hagan [D, NC] could be more damaging. It would ban payday lenders from giving out new loans to customers who have already taken out six payday loans or have been under loan obligations for more than 90 days in the past year. 

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When the Senate whittled down a $174 billion jobs bill from the House to a mere $15 billion bill, one of the many ideas to hit the cutting room floor was a $23 billion fund to prevent layoffs in education. Last week, Sen. Tom Harkin [D, IA] revived the idea and introduced it as a standalone Senate bill.

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Getting Tough on Wall Street

April 12, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Politico reports that some Democrats are preparing a big push to strengthen financial reform legislation when it comes to the Senate floor in a couple weeks:

A group of Democrats, joined by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, are planning an aggressive spring offensive to strengthen key provisions of the financial reform bill - and daring Senate Republicans to vote against them.

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Criminal penalties for crack versus powder cocaine touch on a wide range of issues from race to state budgets to overcrowding of prisons. The Senate Judiciary Committee today took on the issue by unanimously voting to advance a bill that would reduce the wide disparity in sentencing for possession of the two.

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Bennet Joins The Filibuster Reform Effort

March 9, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Freshman Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet [D, CO] has joined a handful of his Senate colleagues in the effort to reform the filibuster. The filibuster has long been used by both parties when they were in the minority to prevent the Senate from acting on certain measures. But starting with the 110th Congress, when Democrats took control of the House and Senate, the number of filibusters launched by the GOP has skyrocketed to historic levels.

Bennet last week introduced a Senate resolution (S.Res.440) that would not only limit a senator's ability to place anonymous holds, but would also make it easier for a majority party to break a filibuster. The Huffington Post's Sam Stein explains the rather byzantine way Bennet's resolution works:

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Filibuster Reform

February 12, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

After three-and-a-half years of record obstructionism, Sen. Tom Harkin [D, IA] has introduced legislation to reform the Senate's filibuster process.

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Fresh off a meeting with Senate Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] is rewriting the Senate jobs bill, excising many of the tax cuts previously included to draw Republican support. In recent days, the shape of the bill has sparked an intra-party fight among Senate Democrats. Originally crafted by Sen. Dick Durbin [D, IL] and Sen. Byron Dorgan [D, ND], the process was hijacked by the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Max Baucus [D, MT] and Sen. Chuck Grassley [R, IA], two leadi...

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Congress Links

February 2, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Despite being a slow day in Congress, it was a busy day on Capitol Hill. Here's a look at what you might have missed: Sen. John Kerry [D, MA] has joined Sen. Arlen Specter [D, PA] in calling for a constitutional amendment in response to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision lifting limits on corporate cash in campaigns. (The Hill) A group of centrist Senate Democrats including Sen. Jim Webb [D, VA], Sen. Mary Landrieu [D, LA], Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] and Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR] ...

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A Closer Look At The Senate's Jobs Plan

January 27, 2010 - by Eric Naing

The omnipresent refrain in Washington for the past few months has been “jobs, jobs, jobs.” Possibly terrified of the wrath of the unemployed voter, Senate Democrats are now making progress in crafting a jobs bill.

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