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Just as new revelations are emerging about the possible link between the most widely-used pesticide in the U.S. and human birth defects, Congress is working to liberalize pesticide-use policy to allow farmers and local governments to spray near public waterways without having to seek special permission under the Clean Water Act. On Tuesday, the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee unanimously approved H.R 872, a bill "to amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify Congressional intent regarding the regulation of the use of pesticides in or near navigable waters, and for other purposes." The House of Representatives passed the bill on March 31st by a vote of 292-130.

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Fishing With Lead

October 7, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

On August 23rd, five environmental groups petitioned the EPA asking them to outlaw fishing tackle and ammunition made of lead under their Toxic Substances Control Act powers to regulate substances that "present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment." The EPA has rejected the petition as it pertains to ammunition due to special protections written into the law for firearm-related article, but they have yet to rule on lead fishing tackle. In response, Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR] has introduced the Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational Shooting Protection Act, which would make it illegal for the EPA to regulat fishing equipment in the same way it's illegal for them to regulate gun equipment.

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Renewable Energy Legislation Comes Back to Life

September 24, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

When the Senate abandoned their climate bill earlier this year, the renewable energy standard (RES), which was the other big provision in it besides cap-and-trade, seemed to die with it. The provision would have required utilities to produce more of their power from clean sources like wind and solar, but It wasn't brought back in the scaled-down energy package that Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] put together from remnants of the dead climate bill. "The numbers that we have indicate that those votes are not there," Reid said in July regarding a RES.

Now, a, bipartisan pair of senators is out to prove Reid wrong. On Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Bingaman [D, NM] and Sen. Sam Brownback [R, KS] introduced a stand-alone RES bill that would mandate 15% of power to be generated by renewables -- not 20% like the climate bill -- and they're now up to 25 co-sponsors. Significantly, four of the co-sponsors are Republicans, which is a big deal considering the lack of aisle-crossing in the Senate the past few months.

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Good News for Cash for Clunkers

August 3, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate's path towards passing legislation (H.R. 3435) this week to infuse an additional $2 billion into the wildly popular cash for clunkers program just got a whole lot easier. On Monday, two key senators, Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D, CA] and Sen. Susan Collins [R, ME], who vowed last Friday to vote against the bill unless it increased fuel efficiency standards for new cars purchased under the program, dropped their opposition and said that they now plan to vote for it.

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H.R. 2454, Sec. 204

July 8, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

At OpenCongress, our core mission is to build public knowledge about what's really happening in Congress. All of the tools we've built on the site are designed to meet that goal. For example, we're crowd-sourcing discovery of the best articles and comments about bills in Congress, building community-edited wikis on bills, members and candidates, and providing context to legislation through social and media data. Another set of features we launched more recently is designed to facilitate more d...

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Today begins what is probably the most important month in Congress and the Obama Administration's work on reforming the health care system and addressing the issue of climate change. On August 7, Congress will leave for a month-long recess. Between now and then, they hope to pass bills for both of those issues in both chambers, confirm Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court and finalize work on a number of appropriations bills that are necessary to keep the government up and running. Below is a quick update on where things stand with four of the biggest issues currently before Congress -- health care, climate change, financial regulatory reform and immigration.

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The Waxman-Markley climate change bill (H.R. 2454) was brought to the floor of the House last week, and passed, with hundreds of pages of last-minute changes. Nobody in the House had the time to read, let alone understand, the final version of the bill before voting on it.

With the OpenCongress legislative versioning tool you can easily view all the changes that were made to bill at the last-minute. Click through to see some of the things that I've found in the version of the bill that was passed by the House.

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Cap and Trade in the Senate

June 29, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Now that the Waxman-Markley climate change bill is out of the House, everyone wants to know what's going to happen with it in the Senate. There are a handful of reports today on the bill's Senate prospects form the big news agencies. The best one comes from Darren Samuelsohn of Greenwire, published by the New York Times. It's a good article, and fairly comprehensive, but at this point nobody has any idea what's going to happen. The Senate's version of the bill has even been written yet. As the...

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How They Voted on the Cap-and-Trade Bill

June 27, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

As we reported last night, just before heading home for Independence Day recess and after a particularly tough floor debate, the House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey climate change bill (H.R. 2454) by a nail-biter vote of 219-212. Two-hundred and eighteen votes were needed to pass the bill. Click through for complete lists of all the Representatives that voted against their party leadership on passing the bill and on the Republican substitute amendment.

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Climate Change Bill Passes House

June 26, 2009 - by David Moore

Update, 7:30 pm ET: "The House of Representatives passed a sweeping climate-change bill Friday – a major victory for President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi... the vote was extremely close – 219-212, with eight Republicans voting yes and 44 Democrats voting no." -- Politico. More explanatory links & background on this breaking vote...

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Time to Pass Some Bills

June 24, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

In the past few days Democratic leaders in Congress and the White House seem to be taking a new approach to the two biggest issues in Congress - just get a bill passed.

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The American Clean Energy and Security Act appeared to be stalling out last week over concerns from conservative farm-state Democrats. But House leaders are pushing forward with their original schedule and are confident they can strike a deal in time to have the bill ready for the House floor by Friday.

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(This post by Isabelle Cutting, OpenCongress Research Assistant) In January, Rep. Henry Waxman [D, CA-30] replaced the more moderate Rep. John Dingell [D, MI-15] as the Chairman for the Energy and Commerce Committee by a secret vote of 137-122 held amongst House Democrats. The motivation was to have a progressive at the helm of the committee that would hold jurisdiction over some of the most important legislation that would be coming up in the 111th Congress. Indeed, as Chairman, Rep. Wax...

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There's a lot happening on the Hill this week, and we'll be covering it all and providing links to others who are covering it as best we can. With so much happening, I thought it would be useful to take a step back for a big-picture look at how Congress' next few months are shaping up. Click through for an update on where things stand with four of the biggest issues currently before Congress -- health care reform, climate change, financial regulatory reform and immigration.

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'Cash for Clunkers' Passes the House

June 11, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

This happened a couple days ago, but I think it's still worth a mention before it slips any further into the past. On Tuesday, "Cash for Clunkers" legislation, which has been the subject of on-going negotiations for months, was approved by the House on a 298-119 vote, with all 15 Michigan representatives voting in favor. Autoblog goes over the specifics of how the legislation, which is technically called the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act, would work: If your car gets 18 mpg o...

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