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Once Upon a Time, Democrats Had a Health Care Deal

January 30, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Just in case any health care reform proponents aren't sufficiently agonized... [Sen. Tom Harkin] said “we had an agreement, with the House, the White House and the Senate. We sent it to [the Congressional Budget Office] to get scored and then Tuesday happened and we didn’t get it back.” He said negotiators had an agreement in hand on Friday, Jan. 15. Harkin made clear that negotiators had reached a final deal on the entire bill, not just the excise plans, which had been reported the previou...

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The Week In Review

January 29, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Congress felt like the center of the universe this week with the State of the Union on Wednesday, continuing negotiations on a number of issues and even a couple tough votes going down. Here's what we've been up to here at OpenCongress:

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Dems Reach Out (Again) to Snowe on Health Care

January 29, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

We know generally that the Democrats are working behind the scenes to try to find a way to pass health care reform. But what, in particular have they been doing? One thing, apparently, is talking to Sen. Olympia Snowe [R, ME], the only Republican in the Senate who has expressed any interest in voting for the bill: Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said Friday that she has been in conversation with Democrats and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus about a way forward on health care reform. "I h...

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Alan Grayson: PAC-Buster

January 29, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

In response to the Supreme Court's recent Citizens United decision, Rep. Alan Grayson [D, FL-8] has proposed a suite of bills that he is calling the "Save Our Democracy" platform. One of them, which would make antitrust laws applicable to corporate political action committees, is actually gaining momentum.

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Immigration Reform Prospects Look Bleak

January 29, 2010 - by Eric Naing

The Scott Brown-pocalypse continues. The future of comprehensive immigration reform, one-time a hot issue, is in doubt now that Senate Democrats have lost their supermajority.

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The Rumble In Baltimore

January 29, 2010 - by Eric Naing

At this moment, President Obama is squaring off with House Republicans in a Q&A session in Baltimore. A number of issues including health care and government spending are being debated in detail. It's compelling political television that deserves to be watched: Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy...

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Congress Struggles To Pass Student Loan Reform

January 29, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Opponents of wasteful government spending might want to turn their eyes to the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (H.R.3221). This bill promises to end government subsidies to the student loan industry saving billions.

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Senate Approves Tough Iran Sanctions

January 28, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

By a voice vote, the Senate this afternoon approved a comprehensive bill to put new, tougher economic sanctions on Iran. Since Iran has almost no oil refining capability and has to import at least 40 percent of its domestic gasoline supply, the most crippling sanctions in the bill would block any company that imports refined petroleum to Iran or works with Iran to build refineries from doing business in the U.S. market.

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Congress Links

January 28, 2010 - by Eric Naing

With the State of the Union behind us, Congress can get back to work. Most of the big-ticket items on Congress' agenda have been on hold until after the speech. Unfortunately, it not clear if Congress knows what it's going to do now:

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Senate Republicans today voted in lock step against a bill to raise the federal debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion. But they haven't always been against raising the debt limit. In fact, on most of the votes in recent history to raise the debt limit, the Republicans provided a majority of the votes.

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Senate Votes To Raise Federal Debt Limit

January 28, 2010 - by Eric Naing

After a rocky and lengthy process, the Senate today finally voted to raise the federal debt limit to $14.4 trillion, essentially avoiding a scenario where the government defaults on its debt.

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Gay Rights Activists To Obama: Action, Not Words

January 28, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Last night, President Obama once again called for an end to the “don't ask, don't tell” policy banning gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military. But his words were not enough for many gay rights activists.

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Congress Links

January 27, 2010 - by Eric Naing

State of the Union Day is finally here. As the president sets the agenda for the coming year, many issues from climate change legislation to “don't ask, don't tell” could be affected, but none moreso than healthcare:

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It's Still All About the Senate

January 27, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Some misleading reporting this afternnon from MSNBC on the state of health care reform in Congress. This is not "breaking" news that deserved interrupting the whole program: The report created quite a stir on Twitter. But what MSNBC reported here as breaking news at 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday was reported by other outlets last night, and even that wasn't all that substantial. Here's Congress Daily for example: House Democratic leaders believe they can muster the votes to pass the Senate hea...

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Did you know that under current law it takes only 5 grams of crack cocaine to trigger a mandatory minimum sentence of five years, but it takes 500 grams to trigger the same sentence for possession of powder cocaine? That's a 100:1 ratio, and, since crack cocaine is generally an poor, urban, black drug and powder cocaine is generally an upper-class, white, suburban drug, it looks a lot like institutionalized racism.

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