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The 10 Most Blogged Bills of 2009

December 29, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Congressional leaders may have decided which bills to bring in front of the C-SPAN cameras over the past year, but they didn't control what the public paid attention to and what bills got them talking. Nearly 10,000 bills have been introduced in Congress over the past year. In many cases the ones that have really caught the public's attention are different from the ones that were sanctioned and promoted by the congressional leadership.

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Dysfunctions of the House Financial Services Committee

December 29, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Ryan Grim and Arthur Delaney, who have been doing great reporting at the Huffington Post, have an absolute must-read piece today -- "The Cash Committee: How Wall Street Wins on the Hill." The main takeaway is that the ever-increasing need to raise campaign funds isn't just creating more situations where lawmakers are influenced by the money, it's actually creating an environment that discourages lawmakers from being good at making laws. Here's just one of many excerpts that caught my attention: ...

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CFPA in the Senate

December 28, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The value in the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) that some in Congress are proposing is that, unlike other regulators that consider the safety and soundness of financial products for the markets, the CFPA would try to make sure products are safe and sound for consumers. That is what is really new and unique about it. The House already approved the CFPA. The Senate is nearing a bipartisan agreement on the need for a CFPA, but the big sticking point is whether it will be an inde...

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Clyburn Won't Hold Out for a Public Option

December 28, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The highly influential Majority Whip, Rep. James Clyburn [D, SC], whose job is basically to tell rank and file House Democrats how to vote, said over the weekend that he could support a health care bill that does not create a public option.

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Gruber on the "Cadillac" Health Care Tax

December 28, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

For those of you being kept up at night wondering which financing mechanism is better for health care reform, the House's surtax on the rich or the Senate's tax on expensive "Cadillac" health plans, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber has an argument in defense of the latter today that you'll probably want to read. His main argument seems to be that it's not actually a new tax, but an elimination of an existing tax break for firms that provide these expensive insurance plans. "Under current law, if wor...

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Will Cap-and-Trade Go the Way of the Public Option?

December 27, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Now that they're just about done with removing the public option from the health care bill, several of the same conservative Democrats in the Senate are working on removing the central component -- cap and trade -- from the climate change bill.

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Congress Links -- Health Care Roundup

December 26, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Like Sen. John Thune [R, SD] pictured at right with his luggage outside at the Capitol, I had to get on a plane and leave for Christmas right after the Senate passed the health care bill on Thursday morning. But some other bloggers kept blogging. Here's a quick roundup of a few good follow up posts on health care from the past few days:

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By a vote of 60 to 39, the Senate early this morning officially approved health care legislation designed to meet President Obama’s goals of reducing health care costs, increasing choices for consumers and guaranteeing access to quality, affordable insurance for all Americans. All 60 Democrats in the Senate, plus the two Independents, voted in favor of the bill. All 39 Republicans who were present voted "no." Sen. Jim Bunning [R, KY] skipped the vote.

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When the Senate takes their vote in January to raise the limit on the national debt by $1.5 trillion, Senate Republicans will be allowed to hold votes on four politically sensitive amendments that will put Democrats on the spot on spending issues.

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With a parliamentary inquiry yesterday on the Senate floor, Sen. Jim DeMint [R, SC] stirred up a few interesting questions about a provision in the health care bill, along with a whole lot of outrage among conservatives. Video of the inquiry can be found here. DeMint was questioning a provision of the bill contained in the section that would create a new "Independent Medicare Advisory Board" (the thing Sarah Palin refers to a "death panel"). The provision, Sec. 3403 (d)(3)(C), reads: (C) LI...

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The Senate this morning passed two more procedural hurdles on their health care bill (H.R. 3590) and remain on track to pass the bill before Christmas.

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While Congress continues to plow full steam ahead on health care, Democrats in the House recently took a big step forward on another huge and contentious issue, immigration. On Tuesday, Reps. Ortiz and Gutierrez introduced a comprehensive immigration bill that will serve as the starting point for Congress' work on the issue this session.

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At 1:25 this morning, the Senate voted to defeat a Republican filibuster of the Democrats' health care bill. The vote brings the Senate beyond the last big hurdle remaining for the bill and virtually guarantees that it will see final approval before the Senate leave town on Christmas Eve for recess.

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Health Care Vote Coming Down the Pipe

December 20, 2009 - by David Moore

WSJ reports: "The Senate is marching toward a Christmas Eve vote. Democratic leaders predicted their health bill will pass with the support of all 58 Democrats and two independents -- but no Republicans. The Senate version needs to be reconciled with a House-passed bill, but is likely to form the core of any final legislation presented to President Barack Obama for his signature."

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Senate Locks Votes for Health Care Bill This Week

December 19, 2009 - by David Moore

The Hill brings it: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has unveiled a final version of his healthcare reform legislation containing a plethora of changes designed to lock down the 60 votes he needs to pass the historic legislation on Christmas Eve."

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