Congress Links for Monday, Jan. 30th. The Hill: "The Senate meets at 2 p.m. for speeches, and then at 4:30 p.m. starts work on the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which aims to prevent members of Congress from making trades based on non-public information." (At right: Sen. Gillibrand, Senate version sponsor.) The STOCK Act has 99% support from "MyOC" users - visit to the Money Trail for a list of organizations supporting S. 1903, including Common Cause. Click through for more background & links.Read Full Article Comments (58)
The Senate is set to begin debate this afternoon on the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act. The bill repeal five tax breaks that Congress has enacted over the years to encourage oil companies to drill off of America's shorelines, and it would close a loophole that U.S. oil companies have been using to disguise foreign royalty payments as taxes and deduct them from their domestic tax bill. All savings would be used to balance the budget and pay down the debt. Despite expert analysis showing that the bill would not increase gas prices and may actually increase domestic oil production, Republicans are planning to vote against it.Read Full Article Comments (7)
For non-neurotic, rolling updates on election night, surf along with our Twitter account.
As you watch the election results come in tonight, keep an eye on the race to represent Alaska in the U.S. Senate. Lisa Murkowski narrowly lost her primary this spring against newcomer and Tea Party candidate Joe Miller. She then decided to run as an independent, but Alaska election law keeps her off the ballot because she lost a primary, so she's having to run as a write-in (which isn't easy with a last name like Murkowski). Miller now has the Republican nomination and a lot of Tea Party support, but had an ugly falling-out with Sarah Palin recently when he refused to say she was qualified to be president. However, he is now the official Republican nominee, so the Washington Republican establishment, as represented by the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, is now backing him hard against Murkowski (whom it formerly backed), who now trying to take votes away from Democratic nominee Scott McAdams by running as a centrist.
Got all that?
The bizarreness of this race is reflected in the campaign ads being tracked on our Alaska Senate AdTracker page
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All the news on the Senate these days is about that odd offshoring bill that seemed to be designed to fail, in every respect, and was rejected this afternoon. Less attention is being paid to all the stuff the Senate is actually getting done. For example, they passed 16 bills by unanimous consent last night. That's a pretty heavy haul for the typically slow-moving, hyper-obstructionist Senate. And there's even some substantial stuff in there. Take a look:
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The filibuster has a long and controversial history. It's been used (and, quite arguably, abused) by Senators on both sides of the aisle since the time of the Whig Party. After a series of Republican filibusters blocking their legislation, some Democrats are suggesting changes to Senate rules to eliminate or restrict the filibuster.Read Full Article Comments (8)
Via public policy blogger Ezra Klein of the WaPo, please read and bookmark and share with gusto this must-read article by George Packer in that esteemed publication, The New Yorker magazine. It's called "The Empty Chamber: Filibusters and arcane obstructions in the Senate", and we're boosting it as a must-read, worth your time because of how the Senate's essential dysfunction affects the lives of every single American (both in our daily lives and in the possibility of a sane, sustainable, healthy future).
As we're screaming, the whole essay is essential reading -- the Upper House of the United States Congress is fundamentally broken and corrupt and in semi-denial of its sad state, with disastrous effects on the strength of our nation. But the key excerpt might be this simple sentence: "Nothing dominates the life of a senator more than raising money." We spoke out on these exact issues last week in our major blog post round-up, "Congress Is Broken". Click through for more info, helpful links, hopeful prescriptive cures, and even more reasons to make a tax-deductible donation to support our non-profit work.Read Full Article Comments (3)
By a vote of 60 to 39, the Senate early this morning officially approved health care legislation designed to meet President Obama’s goals of reducing health care costs, increasing choices for consumers and guaranteeing access to quality, affordable insurance for all Americans. All 60 Democrats in the Senate, plus the two Independents, voted in favor of the bill. All 39 Republicans who were present voted "no." Sen. Jim Bunning [R, KY] skipped the vote.Read Full Article Comments (10)
Both amendments -- one from a Democrats and one from a Republican -- were in direct response to the recent U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations that women start screening for breast cancer at age 50, not 40, and that women above 50 get screening less frequently.Read Full Article Comments (2)
Today, the Senate begins what by all accounts will be a lengthy and contentious debate of their health care reform legislation. Read, discuss and link to individual sections of the bill:
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act>>
Update, 10pm ET: Here it is, the Senate's version of the health care reform bill: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (link opens in browser as a 2,074-page .pdf). For ongoing coverage, follow OC on Twitter, and click through for early reactions...Read Full Article Comments (11)
Earlier this year, Sen. John Ensign, a rising star in the Republican party, revealed that he had had an affair with the wife of a top aide and close friend. Unlike the more famous affair revelation of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Ensign's affair wasn't a tale of true love, but a story about corrupt politicians paying out hush money.Read Full Article Comments (5)
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is set to name former Democratic National Committee Chairman Paul Kirk, 71, the interim senator to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Kirk, a close Kennedy confidante, was the choice of the late Sen. Kennedy's close family.Read Full Article Comments (7)
As the summer of the Democrats' discontent winds to a close, the head count for health care reform in the Senate begins in earnest. One of the key Democratic senators on the fence is Sen. Blanche Lincoln, a member of the Senate Finance Committee and one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the 2010 election. Lincoln jumped into the news today with a quote to a reporter stating her opposition to a public option plan in a health care reform bill. "I would not support a solely government-funded public option. We can't afford that," Lincoln said. The senior Arkansas senator is also the top recipient of campaign contributions from the health industry among senators this year.Read Full Article Comments (7)
Nate Silver at Five Thirty Eight has been tracking Sen. Arlen Specter's [D, PA] votes in the Senate since his switch from the Republican party to the Democrats in April. In the first month or so after becoming a Democrat, Specter was voting with his new party about two-thirds of the time on these Contentious Votes. While there are some less loyal Democrats -- say, Ben Nelson of Nebraska -- who only vote with their party about half the time, this was certainly less than what most Democratic obs...Read Full Article Submit a Comment
The Las Vegas Sun reports: Washington — Republican Sen. John Ensign said Monday that not only does he have no intention of resigning in light of his affair and his parents’ payout to the woman’s family, he plans to seek reelection when his term is up in 2012. Ensign told the Las Vegas Sun he has received calls and e-mails of encouragement from supporters both in Nevada and Washington. When asked Monday whether he had any thoughts about stepping down, Ensign said his supporters are sendin...Read Full Article Submit a Comment