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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.

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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.

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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.

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Good luck with that pivot

August 5, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

With the debt ceiling debate over for now, the Obama Administration is promising a "pivot to jobs." Given that the trillions in cuts in the debt bill are going to cause higher rates of unemployment than what we would have had otherwiset, shifting to job creation makes sense. But the Administration can't create jobs on their own, they need legislation from Congress. Given Congress' recent history with handling jobs bills, don't be surprised if the pivot doesn't result in anything but bitter feelings.

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Senate Dems Abandon Filibuster Reform

January 25, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The Democrats' cave-in on reforming the filibuster in the Senate appears to be complete. According to reports, Senate Rules Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Schumer [D, NY] is bringing a proposal to his fellow Democrats this afternoon that would do nothing to address the recent explosion in senators using procedural rules to kill bills just by threatening to filibuster. It apparently includes three minor changes in the Senate rules and is accompanied by a gentlemen's agreement to start behaving more reasonably, sometimes. Here's what's in it.

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Senate Dems Unveil Their Filibuster Reforms

January 5, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Senators Tom Udall [D, NM], Tom Harkin [D, IA] and Jeff Merkley [D, OR] have released an official outline of their filibuster reform package. As expected, it would force senators who want to filibuster to actually stand up and delay things instead of being able to filibuster by just threatening to delay. It would also eliminate filibusters on simply beginning debate of a bill, ensure that both parties can submit amendments and make it impossible for senators to put holds on bills without revealing their identity.

Check out the outline below, and let us know what you think of this reform package in the comments.

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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.

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The Bills Left Behind

September 11, 2010 - by Hilary Worden

As we mentioned last week, The Hill recently reported that there are 372 bills that have been passed by the House but not yet been acted upon by the Senate. Which chamber is at fault for this? Is the House wildly passing superfluous bills, or is the Senate failing to keep up with matters that need to be addressed? For the most part, the latter. According to our analysis of data from OpenCongress and GovTrack, the House has passed many broadly popular bills that are stalling in the Senate for reasons other than their content.

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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.

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Roll Out the Cots

April 28, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

UPDATE: The Republicans have finally relented. They are going to let a unaimous consent agreement go through and proceed to an up or down vote on whether or not to begin debate.

Senate Democrats are planning an all-night debate on debating financial reform legislation -- the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010.

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Delay Slayer

April 12, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] has taken a lot of slack for not being a tough enough leader. But when it comes to killing filibusters, he's the toughest majority leader ever, reports Roll Call (via Political Wire):

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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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A Busy Year

January 8, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The 111th Congress "worked more days in 2009 than they have in any year since 1995, when the Republican party took control of both houses of Congress," according to research from the Sunlight Foundation.

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