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Omnibus Budget Bill Looking More Likely

November 18, 2009 - by Avelino Maestas

Donny is working on a post about the soon-to-be-released CBO score of the Senate health care reform bill, but I thought I would just write a quick hit on the budget. Most of the government was operating on a continuing resolution: federal agencies are using last year's budget formula to conduct business. Fiscal year 2009 ended on September 30, and while five appropriations bills have been approved, seven have not

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'Audit the Fed' Undermined by Dem Congressman

November 17, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Rep. Ron Paul's [R, TX-14] popular bill to repeal special audit protections for the Federal Reserve and require a full audit of the central bank has enough co-sponsors to easily pass the House. But Rep. Mel Watt [D, NC-2] is undermining the effort by pushing his own watered down version of the bill in the Financial Services Committee.

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More Last Minute Tweaks

November 17, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Suzy Khim reports on shifting subsidy levels in the Senate health care bill (which is expected to be made public tonight or tomorrow): Amid all the concern about subsidy levels in health care reform comes word that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is, in fact, going to boost the financial assistance available to Americans buying health insurance. The problem? It's not the group who needs help the most--and it may come at the expense of those who do. According to Ron Pollack, executive dir...

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The Toughest Vote

November 17, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

As I mentioned this morning, of the three Senate Democrats threatening to vote against the public option, only one of them -- Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D-AR] -- is up for re-election in 2010. The other two have two more years before they have to to face voters. By then, there will be other big issues and contentious votes to focus on. It will be hard for public option supporters to get Lincoln on their side, even for helping them break Republican filibusters.

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Senate Progressives Huddle on Health Care

November 16, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate's long-awaited health care bill and the Congressional Budget Office's budget scoring of it are expected to finally be made public today -- or if not today, tomorrow at the latest. On Monday night Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) thought it was necessary to get together one last time with Senate progressives to discuss elements of the bill before it was made public.

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Comparing PATRIOT Act Bills

November 16, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Via Wired's Threat Level blog, here's a handy chart (.pdf) prepared by the Center for Democracy and Technology comparing the two bills in Congress to reauthorize and amend the expiring PATRIOT Act, and how they compare to current law. You can also learn more about the bills on OpenCongress: Senate version: S. 1692 - USA PATRIOT Act Sunset and Extension Act of 2009. House version: H.R. 3856 - National Security Letter Reform Act of 2009....

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The Week Ahead in Congress

November 15, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The House takes up a fix of the Medicare reimbursement formula, while the Senate prepares for an initial procedural vote on health care reform legislation later this week. Click through to see the full legislative schedules fro the week in both chambers.

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Most of the coverage of Congress' health care reform process has been focused on the public option. But the health care bills in Congress have also been flirting with language to establish indirect price controls over policies and restrict private health insurance profits.

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Yesterday, the Business Rountable released report on the Democrats' health care reform effort saying that it could lead to huge savings for companies that provide insurance for their employees. The report is causing trouble for Republicans who are used to having their political agenda line up with the wishes of big business.

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No CBO Score Today

November 13, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Before Senate Democrats can bring their health care bill to the floor for a debate, they need an official budget "score" from the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO will tell them how much the bill is expected to cost, how much revenue it's expected to bring in, how many people it's expected to cover, and more. Reports all week have indicated the score would be out today, setting up a first vote on a motion to proceed to debate of the bill on Tuesday. But the report isn't quite ready to be r...

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Reid Considering a New Tax Plan for His Bill

November 12, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has started the necessary procedural moves to bring health care reform to the Senate floor early next week. Reports out today indicate that he's currently making some major, last-minute tweaks to his bill's funding mechanisms.

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ACORN Suing Federal Government Over Vote in House

November 12, 2009 - by Paul Blumenthal

In September, the House of Representatives voted to ban funding the community organization Acorn. At the time questions arose as to whether the language stripping Acorn of funds was unconstitutional. The Constitution forbids bills of attainder, legislation targeting one specific individual or organization.

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Public Option "Plan B" In the Works

November 11, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] is working with Sen. Thomas Carper [D, DE] on a "Plan B" for passing a health care bill if conservative Democrats filibuster the public option. Their plan combines the weakest possible derivatives of the original plan in respect to both its implementation and operation, while still keeping a semblance of its structure alive.

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Coburn Blocking Veterans Benefits Bill

November 11, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Sen. Thomas Coburn [R, OK] has a "hold" on a bill to improve Iraq and Afghanistan veterans' health care because he wants its $3.7 billion in new spending to be offset. Democrats had been hoping to have their work on the bill completed in time for Veterans Day.

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A Merged Senate Bill by Monday?

November 10, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Democratic leaders in the Senate are now planning on having a health care bill on the Senate floor by next Monday, much sooner than anyone had been expecting. If things go according to the Democrats' plans, an initial vote on the bill could take place just hours after the full text and details of it are made available to the public.

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