The upcoming debt ceiling increase is pretty much the ultimate must-pass bill. If Congress doesn't pass it, it's not just that some programs would be put on hold or that some federal workers would be furloughed; the entire economy would collapse much more deeply than in 2008, and we would have no chance of recovery since our international credit worthiness, our principle financial asset, would be permanently ruined. Of course, every member of Congress knows that the debt ceiling increase has to be passed. That's why they're hoping to use it as a means to pass other legislation that they know cannot stand on its own. Fox News reports that Senate Republicans are planning to filibuster the debt ceiling increase unless the Senate passes a constitutional balanced budget amendment:Read Full Article Comments (40)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell [R, KY] has reversed course and will now back Sen. Jim DeMint's [R, SC] earmark moratorium for the 112th Congress. A vote on banning earmarks will be held privately in the GOP conference meeting scheduled for tomorrow, but if doesn't pass there, DeMint and his main ally, Sen. Tom Coburn [R, OK], will force a vote on the moratorium on the Senate floor Wednesday as an amendment to the food safety bill. But is the moratorium really a good idea, or just a political stunt?Read Full Article Comments (1)
Sen. Jim DeMint's [R, SC] decision to block all bills not cleared by his office by last night isn't the only thing keeping the Senate from following up on the 372 House-passed bills that are scheduled to die in a few weeks without action. From The Hill:
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The feud between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) flared up again Wednesday over Coburn’s objection to a bill protecting sharks.
One of the great political success stories of the past couple years has been the audit the Fed movement. Starting with an unlikely partnership between the far-right Rep. Ron Paul [R, TX-14] and far-left lawmakers Rep. Alan Grayson [D, FL-8] and Sen. Bernie Sanders [I, VT], the push to open up the Federal Reserve to a complete government audit for the first time ever (H.R.1207) has attracted more than 300 co-sponsors in the House and was included in the House's financial reform bill that was approved last December.
But now that financial reform has moved into the Senate, the audit the Fed proposal has disappeared from the bill and there is virtually no talk of trying to put it back in. Instead, the Senate financial reform bill as written by Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd [D, CT] includes a section that looks deceptively like a Fed audit, but would actually do nothing to open up the Fed or remove the special audit restrictions that have allowed the Fed to operate in secrecy for decades.Read Full Article Comments (1)
For the past week, the primary topic of conversation in Washington, D.C. has been the record snowfall that continues to bury the city. Now some Republican lawmakers are citing the blizzard as a reason to kill comprehensive climate change legislation. Yesterday, Sen. Jim DeMint [R, SC] tweeted, “It's going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries ‘uncle.’” When asked about the prospects of cap-and-trade legislation limiting carbon emissions, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell ...Read Full Article Comments (2)
After nearly ten months of waiting, the Department of Labor finally has a solicitor. The Senate today, in a party-line vote of 60-37, confirmed Patricia Smith, President Obama's nominee to serve as the department's top lawyer. All 58 Democrats as well as Sen. Joe Lieberman [I, CT] and Sen. Bernie Sanders [I, VT] were needed to overcome a Republican filibuster blocking Smith. But with Scott Brown expected to join the Senate soon, Democrats will lose that 60th vote and will have to court at leas...Read Full Article Comments (2)
Congress felt like the center of the universe this week with the State of the Union on Wednesday, continuing negotiations on a number of issues and even a couple tough votes going down. Here's what we've been up to here at OpenCongress:Read Full Article Comments (3)
Sen. Jim DeMint [R, SC] is one of the 31 co-sponsors of Sen. Bernie Sanders' [I, VT] popular "audit the Fed" bill (S. 604). But he has also introduced his own version of the bill that would maintain the Fed's current level of secrecy under the guise of the "audit the Fed" ethos (S. 2939).Read Full Article Comments (7)
Democrats are reeling after Martha Coakley's defeat to Scott Brown in Massachusetts. Health care reform is obviously affected, but it's far from the only issue on the minds of lawmakers today: The Democratic party has a new talking point for the post-Massachusetts political era: “It is mathematically impossible for Democrats to pass legislation on our own.” Technically, this is correct. There will only be 59 Senate Democrats soon – not enough to break a filibuster that is increasingly be...Read Full Article Comments (1)