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WhoRunsGov.com

January 23, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The Washington Post has just launched a new politics site with a focus on profiling powerful players in D.C. politics - WhoRunsGov.com. From the About page: >Our site will feature profiles of a select group of government officials, including members of the new presidential administration, legislators, senior Congressional aides and committee staff, and experts at think tanks and interest groups who influence how policy is made. Each profile focuses on an individual's policy experience and in...

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Vote Switchers - From Tranche 1 to Tranche 2

January 22, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

In a symbolic vote yesterday afternoon, the House of Representatives voted against releasing the second $350 billion of financial bailout money for use by the Obama administration. The vote was symbolic-only for two reasons: (1) The Senate already voted last week to give Obama the funds, making it impossible for Congress to present Obama with a joint resolution of disapproval as spelled out in section 115 of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, and (2) even if they could jointly approve...

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Gillibrand To Replace Clinton in the Senate

January 22, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

New York Governor David Paterson will appoint Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to fill Hillary Clinton's vacated Senate seat, several agencies are reporting tonight. Gillibrand, who is currently serving her second term in the House, is a member of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition and is one of only two Democrats at the federal level to have been endorsed by the NRA. Click through for more resources to learn about her.

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Troubles WIth Stimulus Report Language

January 21, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

This caught my eye, from Congress Daily ($): >House Appropriations Chairman David Obey set off a firestorm recently by including report language for the House economic stimulus package that implied that $1 billion to fund research to compare the effectiveness of medical treatments would keep patients from more-expensive medications and procedures -- and even staffers who crafted the bill language are fuming over the report. > >"The trouble is not with the legislative language, which was care...

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There may be some hope for increased oversight and accountability of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) after all. This afternoon, The House passed Barney Frank's TARP oversight legislation, the details of which I spelled out in a previous post, and now there is a glimmer of hope from the Senate that Democrats may push to pass similar legislation.

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Gun Legislation in the New Congress

January 20, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

There's been a lot of concern among gun owners that, under President Obama, Congress will pass a law this session that threatens their right to bear arms. “People are concerned about overreaching legislation from Washington,” one gun shop owner is quoted as saying in a New York Times article about surging gun sales just after the election. “They are educating themselves on the Internet,” the shop owner added.

Here's a rundown of all the firearm-related legislation that has been introduced into Congress so far this session:

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Confirmed

January 20, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

This afternoon by unanimous consent in the Senate: * Steven Chu to be Secretary of Energy * Arne Duncan to be Secretary of Education * Peter Orszag to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget * Tom Vilsack to be Secretary of Agriculture * Janet Napolitano to be Secretary of Homeland Security * Ken Salazar to be Secretary of Interior * Eric Shinseki to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs Clinton's confirmation vote is set for tomorrow and Geithner's will likely happen on Thursda...

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Yesterday in the Senate, 6 Republicans joined 44 Democrats and one Independent-Democrat in voting to release the second $350 billion tranche of financial bailout money to be used by the incoming Obama Administration. They did so without attaching any new requirements as to how the money is to be spent or how information about the government's bailout activities are shared with the public.

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First Bill of the 111th Signed Into Law

January 16, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

It was S.J.Res.3, signed into law this morning by President Bush. This is the bill that lowers the salary for the Secretary of the Interior so that Ken Salazar can take the position without violating the Constitution. Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution says (in part): >No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall ha...

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Year After Year After Year

January 15, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) has introduced the Enumerated Powers Act in every session of Congress since 1995, even though it has never made it out of committee. Needless to say, it's back again in the 111th. Here's what it would require: >“Each Act of Congress shall contain a concise and definite statement of the constitutional authority relied upon for the enactment of each portion of that Act. The failure to comply with this section shall give rise to a point of order in either House of Congr...

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More on the Stimulus Bill

January 15, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

* The House Ways and Means Committee released details today about the tax provisions falling under their jurisdiction in the stimulus bill. Tax cuts in the bill total about $275 billion and include Obama's "Making Work Pay Credit" for the middle class, refundable higher education tax credits, first-time home-buyer credits, renewable energy incentives and a smattering of tax cuts for businesses. The Committee will begin work on this section of the bill next week. * OMB Watch looks at the tax ...

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Recovery.gov

January 15, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The website picture above - Recovery.gov - will soon be transformed into a database for information on new spending originating from the $825 billion economic stimulus package. This part of Congress's effort to bring "a historic level of transparency, oversight and accountability" to the stimulus so that "taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and Americans can see results for their investment," as stated in the draft summary. Below is the mandate to build the site contained in the House's Ameri...

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House Dems Release Stimulus Summary

January 15, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

"House Democrats on Thursday unveiled an $825 billion economic recovery package, an expansive combination of spending and tax cuts that aims to put millions of unemployed Americans back to work and halt what is widely believed to be the nation’s worst recession since the Depression."

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Today, a new project aimed at opening up hidden power structures in Washington and beyond - LittleSis - is making its initial foray into the wilds of the internet. Like an OpenCongress for unaccountable officials or, as the team behind LittleSis calls it, "an involuntary facebook of powerful Americans," the site profiles CEOs, presidential cabinet members, lobbyists, financiers etc., and charts overlaps in their backgrounds so we can start to see the connections that have built the powers that be.

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Pushing TARP Transparency

January 14, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Chris Bowers at Open Left posted this video of freshman Democrat Rep. Alan Grayson at yesterday's Financial Services Committee hearing grilling Fed Vice-Chairman Donald Kohn on the lack of transparency in the financial bailout: The related legislation here, as I've been writing about a lot this week, is the TARP Reform and Accountability Act. The bill is designed to require more accountability and transparency in how the second $350 billion tranche of the TARP money is spent. Rep. Barney...

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