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For months, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been talking about the need to come together on a plan to extend several policies that will expire at the end of the year. But with just a handful of days left before the holiday break, the two sides are only growing further apart on how to get it done.

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Third Time's a Charm?

December 5, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Senate Democrats have released details of their third attempt to get Republicans on board for two major pieces of the Obama jobs bill -- extending the payroll tax holiday and extended unemployment insurance for another year, . According to a press release from Sen. Robert Casey [D, PA], the new proposal would reduce the overall cost of the plan by about $80 billion by letting payroll tax holiday expire for employers' contributions. Workers would still get a 50 percent reduction in the amount of payroll taxes they would have to pay normally.

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Why SOPA and PROTECT-IP Are So Hard to Kill

November 23, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Last week an unprecedented coalition of tech companies, internet users, and public-interest groups came together to fight legislation that would give corporations and the government new powers to censor the internet. The numbers are impressive -- in just one day more than 1 million emails were sent to Congress and 88,000 phone calls were placed to representatives. But despite this viral, grassroots effort, the special interests behind the legislation are still winning. They have spent years working behind the scenes on Capitol Hill to assemble an extensive, bipartisan network of powerful lawmakers, and they are perfectly positioned to see the bill passed and signed into law this session.

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Progress in the Senate

November 8, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

While the House is out on recess, the Senate is doing something quite remarkable this week -- they're voting on a bipartisan basis to advance bits and pieces of President Obama's jobs bill. But while this is certainly progress and a net positive, the incredibly limited scope of what they're advancing, compared with the enormity of the crisis facing the economy, also underscores just how dysfunctional Congress is.

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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.

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House Readies a Bipartisan "Jobs" Bill

October 19, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Republicans and Democrats in the House are throwing their support behind a bill to let federal contractors retain more of their payments up front. They're planning to pay for it by scaling back federal health care subsidies for the poor and middle class.

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Dems Plan Next Jobs Bill Vote

October 17, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Following up on last week's symbolic vote on Obama's jobs bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] has decided on the next step. He's whittling the $447 billion down to a single, fully-offset $35 billion spending measure that would provide state and local aid to public employees facing layoffs. He's planning to bring it up for a vote in the Senate later this week. 

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Enough About Jobs Already!

October 13, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The House is taking a break from working on jobs, the economy, and other dull stuff like that so they can vote on an important issue that the people actually care about -- abortion. The Repubilcan leadership has scheduled a vote this afternoon on the "Protect Life Act," which would allow hospitals to deny abortion services even if it means the mother will die. Finally! HuffPo:

The House is scheduled to vote this week on a new bill that would allow federally-funded hospitals that oppose abortions to refuse to perform the procedure, even in cases where a woman would die without it.

Under current law, every hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid money is legally required to provide emergency care to any patient in need, regardless of his or her financial situation. If a hospital is unable to provide what the patient needs -- including a life-saving abortion -- it has to transfer the patient to a hospital that can.

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Prepping for Job Losses from the Free Trade Deals

October 12, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The AP has a helpful post up explaining the details of the bill to provide aid to workers who get their jobs shipped overseas that Congress thought would be wise to pass before approving these new free trade deals. They're comparing it to an expansion of the measures that were enacted in 2009 as part of the stimulus bill and expired in February.

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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.

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Prospects Dim for Unemployment Insurance Extension

October 11, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The American Jobs Act contains a provision that would be extremely stimulative in terms of GDP expansion and jobs growth while also providing direct relief to the workers who have been hardest hit by the recession. Yet in discussions over which parts of the bill to keep for inclusion in a smaller, bipartisan package after the American Jobs Act is officially killed, that provision doesn't seem to be popular.

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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":

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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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All Hope for Jobs Bills is Dead

October 4, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate is currently making progress on bipartisan legislation designed to shrink the U.S. trade deficit with China and restore up to 2.8 million domestic manufacturing positions. Yesterday, a majority of both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate voted to invoke cloture on the China trade bill, a.k.a. the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act, and they're expected to pass it by the end of the week. But that will be the end of the line for the bill.

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Chinese Currency Bill Up Next

September 27, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

When Congress comes back next week, they're not going to move directly to the Obama jobs bill. Instead, they're going to take up a different measure that could potentially lead to U.S. job creation and is more likely to pass -- the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011.

The bill is designed to give the Administration authority to take corrective action against artificially undervalued foreign currencies, particularly the Chinese renminbi. It is widely believed that the fair market value of the renminbi is being supressed by the Chinese government in order to give them an advantage in foreign trade. According to a new report from the Economic Policy Import, the U.S. trade deficit with China has killed 2.8 million American jobs since 2001. It's likely that many of those job positions, which were in manufacturing, could be recreated if the renminbi were valued more fairly.

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