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Keeping Up With Zero

September 2, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The August jobs report is out -- the first since the debt deal passed and the S&P downgraded the U.S. credit rating -- and the key number to the whole thing is zero. Zero jobs were created in August. The private sector produced a measly 17,000 jobs, but those gains were entirely erased by the 17,000 jobs that were lost in the public sector due to state and local government budget cuts. Hours worked were down, wages were down, and the unemployment rate for blacks jumped by nearly a full percentage point to 16.7% nationally. There's basically nothing good in the report to point to.

When Congress comes back next week, the focus is going to be on competing jobs bills from the Republican House and the Obama Administration. Unfortunately, it looks like none of them are going to pass. Both sides have decided that their best move is to try to use the gridlock to their advantage politically. They're not willing to do for the jobless what they did for the banks with TARP -- throw the political concerns aside and do what it takes to save them. But it's not just jobs bills that Congress will be fighting over when they come back. They also have some important authorization bills up for renewal that have so far been stymied over partisan battles on union-organizing rules and other issues. If they're not going to pass a job-creation measure they should at least find a way to pass these bills so they can prevent millions of of private and publica jobs from being lost.

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This Week in Congress: Senate Wrap-Up

August 3, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The House of Representatives has already left Washington for their month-long August recess, but the Senate is in session for one more week. Before they leave for their recess on Friday, the Senate will hold a tough debate on the future of the cash for clunkers program, try to make some crucial progress on health care legislation, and confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.

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Troop-Support Calculus

June 16, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

By some bizarre turn of events, House Republicans are expected today to vote almost unanimously against a bill to fund the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their opposition to the bill, coupled with the House progressives' opposition to funding the wars in general, has thrown passage of the bill, and funding for U.S. troops overseas, in doubt.

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The $96.7 billion bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been stalled in Congress over objections that it would boost funding for the International Monetary Fund and block the release of detainee photos, not to mention objections to continuing to fund the wars.

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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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Trust Busting the Trains

June 2, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

You would think that any talk of antitrust laws in Washington these days would have to do with too-big-to-fail banking. Not so. The Senate today is poised to take up legislation that would apply new antitrust rules to a different industry -- the railroads.

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The No Fly, No Buy Act

May 15, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Here's a new piece of legislation that combines the most loathed issue on OpenCongress, gun control, with one of most notorious examples of mismanaged bureaucracy in recent years. The No Fly, No Buy Act, which was introduced into Congress by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy [D, NY-4] on May 13, would take all the names that appears on the TSA's No-Fly list and put them automatically into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System database.

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Schumer Pushes Mass Transit in the Senate

February 2, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Boosting funding for mass transit in the economic stimulus package has been one of the main goals for a lot of progressives that have been following the issue. When House Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar’s released his original transportation funding proposal, he recommended spending at least $17 billion on mass transit in the stimulus. But when the official House version of the bill was released, it only contained $9 billion in mass-transit funds. The Senate's version containe...

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Obstructive Bridges

January 30, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

BoingBoing guest blogger Charles Platt took a look at the House stimulus bill text last night and was amused to see that even though a large chunk of the bill is intended for restoring crumbling infrastructure, at least part of it is for tearing it down. Here's that section from the bill text: >For an additional amount for 'Alteration of Bridges', $150,000,000, for alteration or removal of obstructive bridges, as authorized by section 6 of the Truman-Hobbs Act (33 U.S.C. 516): Provided, That ...

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Stimulus Floor Amendments in the House

January 27, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The House Committee on Rules has just concluded their epic hearing to lay out the ground rules for Wednesday's debate of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Here is a complete list of the amendments that will receive votes on Wednesday by the full House of Representatives, as determined tonight by the Rules Committee:

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Stimulus Amendments Proposed

January 27, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The House Committee on Rules has posted all the amendments that have been submitted for their consideration tonight. There are hundreds: Summary of Amendments Submitted to the Rules Committee for H.R. 1 - American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 To be considered by the full House on the floor tomorrow, amendments must be approved by the Committee at their meeting at 3:30 this afternoon. The folks at Open Left have organized a last-minute call-in on some of these. There's only a cou...

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Transit Stimulus Spending

January 26, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Elana Schor at Talking Points Memo has been keeping a close eye on the diminishing mass-transit spending in the Democrats' stimulus bill. House Transportation Chairman Jim Oberstar's original $85 billion transportation stimulus funding proposal is being scaled back by the House Appropriations Committee in several areas, most notably in intercity rail and public transit. Meanwhile, the Appropriations Committee is giving nearly full funding to Oberstar's request for highway and bridge constru...

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Frank Seeks New Conditions for Bailout Money

January 11, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

As leaders in Congress continue to work out the details of the economic stimulus package with President-elect Barack Obama, congressional Democrats are pushing to attach new strings to the second $350 billion of financial bailout money. This week, the TARP Reform and Accountability Act, which was introduced last Friday by Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA), will be the subject of a committee hearing and, if time allows, will be brought in front of the full House for debate and voting. It would add new oversight provisions to the financial bailout program and set aside a portion of the money to be used for foreclosure prevention.

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