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Blocking Burris

December 30, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Been reading the major precedent opinion, Powell vs McCormick, wherein SCOTUS ruled that Congress can only deny the seating of a member-elect if they don't meet the criteria laid out in the Constitution. After going through several conflicting historical instances in which the courts did not intervene, we reach the conclusion: >Had the intent of the Framers emerged from these materials with less clarity, we would nevertheless have been compelled to resolve any ambiguity in favor of a narr...

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Blagojevich to Appoint Obama Replacement

December 30, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Apparently Rod Blagojevich is going to appoint former Illinois Atty. Gen. Roland Burris this afternoon to fill Barack Obama's Senate seat. Chicago Tribune: >Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected today to name former Illinois Atty. Gen. Roland Burris to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate. > >The action comes despite warnings by Democratic Senate leaders that they would not seat anyone appointed by the disgraced governor who faces criminal charges of trying to sell the post,...

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The Year in Voting

December 25, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

CQ has released their 2008 vote comparison report for the Senate and the House - go check it out. The report takes into consideration how often lawmakers votes with the majority of their party, how often they vote with the President (when the President makes clear his position), and how often they show up to vote. Click through to see some of the data points that stood to me.

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The Senate Gets Final Say

December 24, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Not very likely, but Fox News reminds us of a frightening scenario for filling the Senate's still-vacant seats: >While the scenario seems far-fetched, Article I, Section 5 of Constitution holds that "Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members." > >In other words, if Minnesota certifies either Norm Coleman or Al Franken the winner, a bloc of senators could object on the Senate floor to seating him. The same could happen if embattled Illinois ...

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Dividing the Democrats

December 22, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The Politico has a story today explaining how Republicans in the Senate are planning to split the Democrats next year to block legislation rather than focus on holding their own party together. Republicans had great success blocking legislation in the last session of Congress by voting as a solid block against cloture motions, which require a 60-vote majority to overcome. But with a Democratic majority of either 58-42 or 59-41 in the 111th (depending on the outcome of the Minnesota recount), that strategy isn't going to work.

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Congress in One Word, on Steroids

December 19, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

By scouring the congressional record for the most commonly spoken words day to day in the Senate and House, The Sunlight Foundation's Capitol Words boils down the daily activities of Congress to just one crucial word. It's like a congressional reduction - the data that Capitol Words provides gives you the condensed flavor of what Congress is up to.

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Following up on my post earlier in the week, here's a rundown of some of the most opposed bills from the last session of Congress that people will be continuing to fight against as the next session begins in January.

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Will Lincoln Sink Card-Check?

December 17, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The Employee Free Choice Act is one of those bills that Democrats are hoping to force past a Republican filibuster next year with their expanded majority in the Senate. The bill would allow workers to form unions through a “card-check” system, certifying unions once a majority of employees at a company have signed union authorization cards. The vote count on the bill is extremely tight, and Democrat Blanche Lincoln's reservations about the bill are putting it in even a tougher spot than what has been predicted.

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The 110th session of Congress has ended, but that doesn't mean that all the energy and attention people have paid to bills in Congress that didn't pass will be abandoned.

Many of them will be reintroduced next year in the 111th session of Congress (with new numbers) and will build off of the support they have gained these past two years and in previous sessions. Here are a handful of the most popular bills in Congress, according to the OpenCongress Battle Royale, that didn't make it into law session, but but will continue to be major focal points for the public's interest in legislation at the federal level

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E-Gov Stalls Over Data Privacy Amendment

December 11, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Andrew Noyes at Congress Daily reports today that the E-Government Reauthorization Act of 2007 is basically dead in the Senate for the time being. The bill would provide new funding for an expired initiative designed to make it easier for the public to find government information on the internet. It has the support of President Bush and most members of Congress, but a dispute over an amendment that was added during the Judiciary Committee's markup of the bill seems to have spelled its death.

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Announcing Battle Royale - May the Best Bill Win

December 11, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Last January, we expanded OpenCongress by launching "My OpenCongress," a customizable tracking tool and social network that lets people track, vote and comment on every bill, senator and representative in the U.S. Congress. That meant that for the first time ever information was being generated that could show, in a measurable way, the public's opinion on everything in Congress. Today, we're launching a new tool, the Batttle Royale, that stacks up all of that data and lets you dive in and promote the things you care about:

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Auto Bailout Update

December 9, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said today that he is optimistic that Congressional Democrats and White House officials will reach an agreement on an automaker bailout/rescue bill (pdf) this morning. There are a couple of issues still to be worked out but Reid sounded confident that they would be completed soon.

The Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), on the other hand, said this morning that the proposal, as it stands now, is “deeply flawed.” Without his support, the bill will almost certainly not be able to pass in the Senate.

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The Big Three Bailout Bill

December 8, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Taxpayers for Common Sense got their hands on a copy of a discussion draft of the auto bailout legislation and posted it online in a pdf. Click here to download the bill I'm posting this before having much of a chance to look at it, but here's what TFCS has found in the bill so far: >It taps the existing $25 billion auto loan guarantee program created under the Energy bill. It also has a repayment structure (5 percent for 5 years, 9 percent after) similar to the bank investments under TA...

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Big Three Bailout: We've Almost Got a Bill

December 7, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The full Senate is returning today to begin work on a pared-down, $15 billion auto bailout bill. Here's what we know at this point about what the legislation will look like and it's chances of passing Congress this week.

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Shelby Threatens to Filibuster the Auto Bailout

December 7, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace: From what Shelby's saying here - "I think we need to debate it, and that's what filibustering is about," and "I hope that we'll be able to have an extended debate on it" - it sounds like he'll object to a unanimous consent agreement on the Big-Three loan bill and force the Democrats to pass it the hard and slow way. Depending on how much support he can drum up from friends in the Senate to help him stall debate on the floor...

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