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Government Transparency Bills in the New Congress

January 12, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Over at the Sunlight Foundation blog, Paul Blumenthal has assembled this useful list of all the government transparency and ethics legislation that has been introduced so far in the 111th Congress: >H.R.36 Presidential Library Donation Reform Act of 2009 > >H.R.35 Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2009 > >H.R.311 To cap discretionary spending, eliminate wasteful and duplicative agencies, reform entitlement programs, and reform the congressional earmark process. > >H.R.420 To prohibi...

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CEO Pay Loopholes

January 12, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Mike Lillis at the Washington Independent reports on worries that the stricter executive compensation limits in Rep. Barney Frank's TARP accountability bill are still full of loopholes: >The heads of bailed-out banks could still receive nearly unlimited pay under a new Democratic proposal to rein in executive compensation for firms participating in the taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailout, according to at least one House Democrat, who hopes to add tighter restrictions this week. > >Rep. Brad ...

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This morning, I wrote about a bill from Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) designed to improve accountability of the remaining $350 billion of the financial bailout program known as TARP. Frank's bill would require bailed out firms to report how they have spent the taxpayer money,strengthen restrictions on executive pay, require the Treasury to use some of the money for foreclosure prevention, and much more.

But now Barney Frank seems to be backing away from passing his bill and, instead, is trusting that President-elect Obama will follow it even though it isn't required by law:

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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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This Week in the House (Jan. 12, 2009)

January 11, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Courtesy of Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the House Democratic Majority Leader: >MONDAY, JANUARY 12, 2009 > >The House is not in session. > >TUESDAY, JANUARY 13, 2009 > >On Tuesday, the House will meet at 12:30 p.m. for Morning Hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m. > >Suspensions (4 Bills) > >1) H.Res. 41 - Supporting the goals and ideals of National Mentoring Month 2009 (Rep. Davis (CA) – Education and Labor) > >2) H.Res. __ - Honoring the...

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With the 111th Congress in full swing (see Conor’s post on freshman members and Donny’s recent work on the first 10 bills in the Senate), we’re starting to see changes announced last year become formalized, such as the selection of committee chairs and ranking members in the House and Senate. With big policy debates on the horizon, you’ll also start to hear more about the caucus leadership.

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Progress for Foreclosure Prevention Measure

January 8, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Atrios and Yglesias point out the absurdity of news reports tonight that Citigroup has reached a deal with members of Congress to let bankruptcy judges alter troubled mortgages. I agree; and I suppose there are two stories here, then - that Congress may finally pass this major foreclosure prevention policy into law this session and that the media now takes corporate control of lawmakers as a given. Here's the story as reported by Congress Daily ($): >Citigroup Inc. agreed Thursday to cha...

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House to Vote on Pro-Israel Resolution

January 8, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The office of Howard Berman (D-CA), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, whipped together a non-binding resolution in support of Israel's military operation in Gaza this week, and it's going to be voted on by the full House tomorrow. The Senate passed a very similar resolution by unanimous voice vote this afternoon.

The resolution is pretty difficult to track down online (at 8pm on the night before the vote, it hasn't been posted on thomas.gov), so here is a pdf of the draft text. After a lengthy findings section ("Whereas Hamas was founded with the stated goal of destroying the State of Israel;" "Whereas Hamas has been designated by the United States as a Foreign Terrorist Organization;" etc.), it proposes the following for the House's endorsement:

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Today in Congress: Obama Declared President-elect

January 8, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Related: >As the Congress was ratifying the results of the Electoral College today, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., was filing legislation to abolish it. > >Scratching a long-time itch, Nelson filed a bill seeking a constitutional amendment to do away with the college, which chooses the U.S. president based on vote tallies within individual states. (For the record, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama prevailed over Arizona Sen. John McCain, 365 to 173. But you knew that.) > >Nelson, a vocal if s...

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Rulebreakers

January 8, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

It's always interesting to look at small coalitions of lawmakers that buck the overwhelming majority of their party and vote the other way. For example, these six Democrats that voted against the House rules package: Rep. Brian Baird [D, WA-3] Rep. Michael Michaud [D, ME-2] Rep. Walt Minnick [D, ID-1] Rep. Edward Pastor [D, AZ-4] Rep. Maxine Waters [D, CA-35] Rep. Lynn Woolsey [D, CA-6] I did some quick googling to see if they had released statements on their votes and found two. M...

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The First Ten Bills of the 111th Senate

January 8, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

These first 10 Senate bills are mainly symbolic. They're a statement of the Democrats' legislative priorities at this point for the next two years, but any legislative action that's taken on these measures could very well come in a different form. The first ten Senate bills of the last session included some measures that were enacted (minimum wage increase, ethics reform), some that were vetoed by President Bush (funding for stem cell research) and some that were hotly debated but never passed Congress (comprehensive immigration reform).

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Bills, Bills, Bills

January 7, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Anybody dying to start digging through the 411 pieces of legislation that were introduced on the 111th Congress' first day in session? Well, here they are. We'll have them up on OpenCongress sooooon. Once you're done with those, more Bills, Bills, Bills to check out here. UPDATE: I guess thomas.gov isn't going to let us link to that page of bills, so if you want to see them, here they are for the House and here they are for the Senate. ...

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New Earmark Transparency Rules

January 7, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Yesterday, Democrats and Republicans in Congress announced new rules designed to increase disclosure of the earmarks that lawmakers request in the annual appropriations bills. The rules would require the earmark information to be available on lawmakers' individual websites, early in the appropriations process, with an explanation of the earmark's purpose and why they should be funded with taxpayer money. All would definitely improve the current system. But Bill Allison on the Sunlight Founda...

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111th Congress Convenes with 65 Freshmen (Profiles)

January 6, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The House and Senate both convened their inaugural sessions of the 111th Congress at noon Tuesday with 65 new faces. There were 39 Democrats (plus two non-voting members who caucus with Democrats) and 24 Republicans. (See the complete, citizen-authored profiles of the freshmen at Congresspedia.)

In the Senate, there were nine freshmen, including Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), who were both representatives but won election to the Senate in 2008. Another five Democrats and two Senators were also sworn in. However, another four to five freshmen are waiting in the wings to be sworn in

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Today in the House

January 6, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Today was the 111th Congress' big first day. The Senate and House convened, the Speaker of the House was elected, Vice President Dick Cheney swore in the new senators, members of the House took the oath of office. It was all very sweet. Curious individuals who want to find out more about Congress' first day would probably check the Library of Congress' thomas.gov website, the first place on the web to receive data about congressional activity. They would probably click on the On the Hou...

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