OpenCongress Blog

Blog Feed Comments Feed More RSS Feeds

Endless Blockade for the Senate Pussyfooters

January 25, 2013 - by Donny Shaw

By a vote of 78-16 , the Senate last night approved a new rules package that keeps in place the procedural loopholes have turned the Senate into a brick wall for sensible legislation. Under the new rules it will still be possible for a single senator to halt progress on a bill, or even on a motion to proceed to a bill, simply by stating that they intend to filibuster. In recent years, this procedure, commonly known as the “silent filibuster,” has prevented the Senate from passing even the most routine, non-controversial legislation.

Read Full Article Comments (6)
 

Six GOP Co-Sponsors of PIPA Ask Reid to Cancel Vote

January 13, 2012 - by Donny Shaw

In an incredible turn of events, six Republican Senators have asked Majority Leader Harry Reid not to hold a vote on PIPA, the Senate version of SOPA. They write, "Prior to committee action, some members expressed substantive concerns about the bill, and there was a commitment to resolve them prior to floor consideration. That resolution has not yet occurred."

Read Full Article Comments (37)
 

Jan. 24th: Our Best Chance to Kill SOPA

January 12, 2012 - by Donny Shaw

The internet censorship bills that have been winding their ways through Congress are about to reach a key, make-or-break moment. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] has scheduled a vote on a motion to begin debate of the Senate version, PIPA, for January 24th, the day after they return from recess, and defeating that motion is our best chance for stopping web censorship from becoming law. Let me explain why.

Read Full Article Comments (13)
 

The bill to give corporations and the government new powers to block websites without having to seek court approval is expected to be voted on in the Senate in the next few days or weeks. The PROTECT-IP Act, which is companion legislation to the House's SOPA, has already been voted out favorably by the Senate Judiciary Committee and can be called to the floor for a vote any day.

According to folks in D.C., Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] is planning to promote it on the floor by giving it the bogus label of "jobs bill." We've already seen this strategy used succesfully by congressional leaders this year to pass big-business handouts (e.g. patent reform legislation and free trade deals) despite the fact that independent analysis shows that they will stifle small-business innovation and kill more jobs than they create. Let's stop them from doing it again with internet censorship. 

Read Full Article Comments (5)
 

Next Dem Jobs Bill to Focus on Infrastructure

October 21, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] has selected the next piece of Obama's jobs bill for Republicans and conservative Democrats to filibuster.

Read Full Article Comments (22)
 

Senate Dems Hand Obama a Rhetorical Victory on Jobs

October 12, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

President Obama didn't send the American Jobs Act of 2011 to Congress because he thought it would pass and help boost the economy. He knew it would fail, but he wanted to use its failure to back up a talking point for his re-election. The Republicans are blocking the Democrats from passing their job-creation plan, the argument would go. Last night, by a vote of 50-49, Obama got his talking point.

Read Full Article Comments (13)
 

Reid Goes Nuclear

October 7, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

All week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell [R, KY] have been in a procedural battle over the American Jobs Act. McConnell has been trying to force a vote on the bill in the form of an amendment to the China currency bill that is currently before the Senate in order to show that the Democrats don't even have their own caucus in order on it. Reid says he's willing to vote on the jobs bill, but not in the form of an amendment. He offered to move from the China currency bill to the jobs bill so the Senate can have a full debate and he can offer amendments to help shore up the Democrats. McConnell rejected the offer.

On Thursday afternoon it appeared that McConnell was going to win, sort of. He was planning to force a vote on a motion to suspend the Senate rules that require amendments to be germane and move to his amendment (i.e. the jobs bill). It wouldn't be a vote on the jobs bill, but it would be a vote on voting on the jobs bill, and in his mind that would be enough for justify good talking points.The Senate Parliamentarian determined that McConnell's move was legit and ruled it in order. That's when Reid pulled out the "nuclear option":

Read Full Article Comments (11)
 

Dems Revise Jobs Bill to Make it Fail Less Hard

October 5, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

At this point there are basically two conceivable ways for Obama and the congressional Democrats to get their jobs bill, the American Jobs Act, through Congress this year. They could cut it down dramatically to things that could potentially get bipartisan support, like the payroll tax holiday and the unpaid job training program for the unemployed, or they could go hardball and threaten to withhold appropriations and shut down the government. This morning, Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] (pictured) announced what he intends to do. He's going with none of the above, choosing the purely political option instead.

Read Full Article Comments (5)
 

Shutdown Averted

September 26, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

After FEMA announced earlier in the day that it could stretch its remaining disaster funding out through Friday, the end of the fiscal year, the Senate reached a deal that will keep the government open and operating, for now at least. The deal sidesteps what was the sticking point -- whether or not extra FEMA funding for the rest of the year should be offset with cuts to other programs -- and, once passed by the House, will keep the government funded until November 18th.

Read Full Article Comments (8)
 

As expected, the Senate this afternoon voted to table (i.e. kill) the House's stopgap funding bill by a vote of 59-36. The disagreement is over a provision that would partially offset funding for the FEMA disaster relief fund, which is running dry due to all of the natural disasters we've experienced rover the summer. Senate Democrats and some Republicans argue that approving disaster-relief offsets would set a bad precedent that could delay Congress from getting aid to victims of future disasters. Without the bill, FEMA will run out of funds as early as Tuesday and the entire federal government will shut down on Friday at midnight.

Read Full Article Comments (3)
 

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.

 

Read Full Article Comments (8)
 

More Senate Squabble, Fewer Jobs

September 13, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Still waiting for that big pivot when everyone in Congress starts acting like they actually care that the unemployment and poverty rates are are record high levels. In the meantime…

Republicans blocked an effort Monday by Senate Democrats to quickly pass a $7 billion aid package for victims of recent natural disasters like Hurricane Irene, tornadoes in the Midwest and the South and floods along the Mississippi, Missouri and other rivers.

On a 53-33 vote, the Senate rejected an attempt by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to bring up a bill that Democrats had hoped to use to replenish the Federal Emergency Management Agency's depleted disaster fund. Democrats needed 60 votes to advance the measure.

Read Full Article Comments (12)
 

Released this week, OpenCongress version 3 features Contact-Congress: the easiest way to send an email to all your members of Congress. Now, you can write a letter to your senators and representative on one webpage, set it to public or private, send it immediately over email, and then track your correspondence in a transparent public forum.

Here's a quick-fast summary of the state of the debt ceiling debate: on Friday afternoon, the House passed the GOP leadership's bill (as an amendment to S. 267), 218-210; this afternoon (Sat.), the House rejected Sen. Reid's Democratic version of the debt ceiling bill (as H.R. 2693, sponsored by Republican Rep. Dreier in the House for parliamentary reasons), 173-246; and while the Senate was projected to vote on Sen. Reid's bill around 1am Sunday, Talking Points Memo and others are reporting the vote has been postponed by Senate Dem Leadership until Sunday afternoon.

So write your members of Congress and let them know what you think about H.R. 2693, the Senate Democratic debt ceiling bill. It's easy-to-use: find out who represents you in Congress simply by entering your street address and send them an email now. Using OC's custom Message Builder, you can bring over the helpful OC bill summary, as well as the most-commented sections of bill text, and add personal stories for a more compelling communication. Click through for the latest in the debt ceiling debate and simple how-to's on sharing your correspondence with other constituents in your area using MyOC Groups.

Read Full Article Comments (11)
 

Read the Reid Debt Bill -- Vote This Afternoon

July 30, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The House is scheduled this afternoon to vote on Senate Majority Harry Reid's debt ceiling bill, which you can find here:

H.R.2693 -- Budget Control Act of 2011

The full text is here. It's a good read. I promise.

Because of the procedure under which the Reid bill is being taken up, it's guaranteed to fail. Rep. Dreier, the House Rules Committee Chair, has put the bill on the suspensions calendar, which means there will be no amendments allowed, no motions to recommit, and a 2/3rds majority required for passage. The suspensions calendar is typically reserved for non-controversial stuff that is going to pass easily, like naming post offices and honoring sports teams. It's a way to save time on routine matters -- not really a good way to vote on cutting trillions in social spending. This isn't going to get a 2/3rds majority, and Dreier knows that.

Read Full Article Comments (16)
 

Please Enjoy This Phony Debt Debate

July 7, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Senate Republicans have been hammering Democrats and the Obama Administration for negotiating the debt limit and deficit deal behind closed doors and out of the public view. They have a point. Unless there's something you're bringing to the table that you'd rather hide from the public, why not put a camera in the negotiating room and broadcast the talks?

Read Full Article Comments (30)