OpenCongress Blog

Blog Feed Comments Feed More RSS Feeds

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)
 

Why Congress is Even Voting on the Debt Limit

April 22, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

From 1979 to 2011 the House of Representatives had a rule in place, for most years, that allowed them to automatically endorse an increase in the debt limit without having to actually go through the motions of introducing a bill and voting on it. The rule, known as the "Gepardt Rule," made it possible for the House to order the Clerk to print up an engrossed debt limit resolution and send it to the Senate once they have passed a budget. It's why last year's bill to increase the debt limit (H.J.Res.45) had no sponsor. This session, however, the Republicans eliminated the Gephardt Rule in the rules package they passed day one. For the first time since the government shutdown of 1995, the House has no rule for automatic debt limit increase endorsement during a period in which a debt limit increase is necessary to avoid default.

Read Full Article Comments (17)
 

New Rules For a New Senate

December 27, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

After raw support, the most precious commodity in the Senate is time. All of you who have been following Congress with us are probably well aware of this. The rules of the Senate allow a single senator to express their opposition to a bill and, even if it is supported by the other 99%, force the chamber to spend up to 90 hours debating it before they can take a vote. This is why common-sense proposals, like requiring senators to file their campaign finance disclosure electronically rather than by snail mail (i.e. S. 482). Everyone wants this kind of stuff to pass, but because it's easy to threaten to shut down all other activity in the Senate for 90 hours, they often get blocked by a senators who want to use them as vehicles for attaching their own, often more controversial, pet issues.

Read Full Article Comments (2)
 

With all the work that's been going on in the Senate this week on financial reform, the small business lending bill and other things, it may seem like the Democrats are doing nothing on the unemployment insurance bill while they wait for an interim senator from West Virginia to be announced. But that's not the case. On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, Senate Dems executed two important procedural actions that will ensure that when the new senator is seated and they can take up the bill, they can take the quickest route possible under Senate rules to get it passed.

Read Full Article Comments (98)
 

Censure and Reprimand in the United States Congress

September 10, 2009 - by Paul Blumenthal

At some point in the developmental process human beings recognize that their emotional responses do not need to be immediately verbalized. Sometimes this development allows for some exceptions, berating your congressman at a town hall meeting or yelling at the movie screen to warn a character not to go in there. One place not to lose your cool is the floor of Congress. Especially if you decide to yell "You lie!" to the President of the United States during a speech to a joint session of Congress.

Read Full Article Comments (16)
 

What's 1,000 Pages Got to Do With It?

August 26, 2009 - by Paul Blumenthal

Over the summer quite a number of people have raised hackles about the length of legislation. Recently, Sen. David Vitter declared his "fundamental" opposition to "any 1,000 page bill." While this appears to be a new found opposition -- Vitter voted in favor of the 1,000 page Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 -- the trend of lengthy legislation is not new.

Read Full Article Comments (6)
 

Who Counts On Cloture?

August 19, 2009 - by Paul Blumenthal

While the guns of august rage at town halls throughout the country, pundits in Washington and staffers in Congress and the White House are busy counting heads to see if the object of all that fear and loathing, health care reform, has a shot at becoming law. The topic du jour is whether the Senate can overcome the 60 vote threshold of a cloture vote. Despite concerns among Democrats that they won't be able to reach the 60 vote threshold to avoid a filibuster, very few Democrats have defected on cloture votes (the vote that bypasses a filibuster) so far this year.

Read Full Article Comments (1)