Yesterday's launch of OpenGovernment received a nice wave of reactions on the leading micro-blogging service. To highlight a few: Alex Howard of O'Reilly Radar (the wide-ranging @digiphile) placed it in the #opengov landscape (previously, as a civic org. to watch); Nick Judd of TechPresident held a nifty interview; and AFSCME's info center highlighted it as a new tool for their members.
Don't miss the blog post announcement from Ellen Miller, the Executive Director of our partners, the Sunlight Foundation; and another by Tom Lee, the Director of Sunlight Labs. (Image at right: a roll call visualization of a Louisiana bill, made uniquely user-friendly on OG.)
It's not too early to point out that the OpenGovernment web application is already generating unique info, in the form of the most-viewed bills & members (so far)... continue reading the full post (it gets pretty vocal) & check out more (and bigger) screenshots over at the new OpenGovernment Blog.Read Full Article Comments (1)
We're very excited to announce today's launch of the beta version of our next major project: OpenGovernment.org.
Free & open-source, OpenGovernment is a non-partisan public resource for transparency at any level of government: state, city, local, international, and more. Finally, a version of OpenCongress for state legislatures.
This beta version is launching with information for five state legislatures: California, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas, and Wisconsin. Over the next year, we seek non-profit funding support to roll out OpenGovernment to all 50 U.S. states, dozens of major cities, other countries, and beyond. Click through for more info and to try it yourself.Read Full Article Comments (2)
After a week of in response to the Tucson shooting, the House is back in session to vote on canceling out Obamacare via their subtly-named Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act. Under the rule passed by Republicans last week, no amendments will be allowed, except for one from Whip Rep. Eric Cantor [R, VA-7] that will be deemed passed without a separate vote. The complete schedule for the week is below:Read Full Article Comments (4)
The Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform bill that the Democrats passed last year didn't take an aggressive approach to fixing the too-big-and-interconnected-to-fail problem that necessitated the bank bailouts. The Senate rejected an amendment to the bill that would have broke up the biggest banks and, instead, created a "Systemic Risk Council" to determine which banks are too big and interconnected and make them follow tougher capital and leveraging requirements. It's supposed to keep the giant finance companies on a tight leash and avoid the shocks to the financial markets that would be caused by restricting the growth of a Goldman Sachs or Bank of America.
But it's not guaranteed to work, and I'd say the latest comments from Tim Geither, who is going to chair the council, do not inspire much confidence:Read Full Article Comments (3)
With the giant Defense budget, the tax-cut extensions, the bailouts, and the lack of tax reciepts from the economic crisis, the ceiling on our national debt is going to have to be increased, by the end of March according to Tim Geithner, if we are to avoid defaulting on our debt and destroying whatever modicum of creditworthiness we have left in the international community.
Voting to raise the debt ceiling is always unpopular, and its must-pass nature makes it a perfect tool for the minority party to force the majority to register an unpopular vote. Rep. Michael Simpson [R, ID-2] admitted as much last year, arguing that the unpopular debt ceiling vote was not his party's responsibility. "That is the burden of the majority," he said.Read Full Article Comments (7)
House leaders have unveiled the text of their resolution addressing the shooting in Tucson, AZ over the weekend that left six people dead and wounded many others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords [D, AZ-8] who remains in critical condition. The resolution, which was written by members of both parties and is offered by Speaker of the House John Boehner [R, OH-8], will be voted on by the House Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. The full text of the resolution is below.Read Full Article Comments (6)
Maybe the biggest failure of the Democrats over the past few years has been that they didn't pass climate change legislation, even when they had simultaneous control of the House, the Senate, and the White House. Luckily for them, they have a backup plan with the Environmental Protection Agency. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA can issue regulations for air pollutants that they determine "endanger public health and welfare." On January 2nd, the first round of EPA regulations on greenhouse gas emissions went into effect using this authority.
In the first week of the new Congress, House Republicans introduced three separate bills to stop the EPA from enforcing climate change rules. Here's a quick overview.Read Full Article Comments (4)
The Federal Communications Commission doesn't have a great record when it comes to protecting net neutrality, but they're still our best line of defense against a telecom industry that's hell-bent on creating a tiered internet that restricts how people who can't afford premium access can use the web. Republicans in the House, however, are looking to take the FCC off the beat entirely and leave all decisions concerning fairness and access on the internet up to the telecoms and Congress.Read Full Article Comments (20)
In the wake of the shooting Saturday in Tuscon, Arizona, the Republican House leadership has decided to postpone all major legislative activity for the week. That means the bill to repeal the health care law, which was originally scheduled for debate on Tuesday and a vote on Wednesday, will be pushed back until next week.
Here's the text of Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor's [R, VA-7] letter to members of the House announcing his decision to postpone legislative work for the week:Read Full Article Comments (9)
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords [D, AZ-8] was shot in the head today while appearing at a public even in Tuscon, Arizona. At the time of this writing, 2:50 p.m. ET, reports are conflicting as to her condition. Some outlets have reported that she has been killed, while other say she remains in critical condition. [UPDATE, 3:17: KOLD News out of Tuscon reports Giffords is alive and in surgery.] NPR describes what happened:Read Full Article Comments (16)
The House Republican majority gets started in earnest today on their push to repeal the Affordable Care Act. On the schedule for today in the House is the rule that will set the procedural framework for next week's votes on H.R.2, the "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Act" and its counterpart H.Res.9, "instructing certain committees to report legislation replacing the job-killing health care law." This is the first rule on significant legislation that the new Republican majority is bringing to a vote, but, contrary to their pledge to be more open about committee action and amendments, they are using a closed rule that is more restrictive than most and skipping committee action entirely.Read Full Article Comments (11)
The new Congress is here, which means it's time for us to start holding them accountable. Over on the OpenCongress Wiki, we've got profiles of each of the 100+ members of the freshman class of 2012, and we need your help to track all the promises and positions they took during the campaign. Take, for example, Rep. Larry Bucshon (R, IN-08), pictured at right... click through to the full article below for some biographical background and policy positions that puts him in helpful context.
Our first task for researching the Class of 2012 is simply finding out what they look like. Help out your fellow citizens by finding pictures of the freshman members on the Web and uploading them to OpenCongress Wiki here. It's easy and has the immediate gratification of seeing the photo all over our site!Read Full Article Comments (6)
Senators Tom Udall [D, NM], Tom Harkin [D, IA] and Jeff Merkley [D, OR] have released an official outline of their filibuster reform package. As expected, it would force senators who want to filibuster to actually stand up and delay things instead of being able to filibuster by just threatening to delay. It would also eliminate filibusters on simply beginning debate of a bill, ensure that both parties can submit amendments and make it impossible for senators to put holds on bills without revealing their identity.
Check out the outline below, and let us know what you think of this reform package in the comments.Read Full Article Comments (13)
The new, 112th Congress officially begins today, and for the first time since 2006, the Republicans will be in control of one of the chambers. Having netted 63 House seats in the November midterms, the Republicans are going into this session with a solid 242-193 majority over the Democrats. In the Senate however, the Democrats have managed to hold onto control and will gavel-in with 53 seats to the Republicans' 47.
This will be the first session of Congress with the two chambers split between the two major parties since the 99th, which took place during years 5 and 6 of the Reagan Administration. During that session, Democrats and Republicans teamed up to pass a landmark deficit-reducing bill that, after a couple revisions, helped to take what was at the time a record federal deficit and produce the budget surpluses of the late 1990s. The Republicans in the Senate also used that pesky budget reconciliation process to pass a health care bill that protects people who lose their jobs from also losing their insurance coverage. And guess what else ...they also passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill that included a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.Read Full Article Comments (6)
The new House operating rules being proposed by the incoming Republican majority would generally require all bills that add to the federal deficit to be offset with new spending cuts. But they have written in a pretty substantial loophole for themselves. Under the rule, the "budgetary effects" of a whole slate of Republican legislative priorities would be exempt from the new offsetting rule, including their bill to repeal the deficit-reducing Affordable Care Act.Read Full Article Comments (10)