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Early Reviews and Mentions of OpenCongress

February 28, 2007 - by David Moore

OpenCongress launched just this past Monday morning, and already we've been fortunate to receive some great notices from around the web. We're especially pleased that the links come from a mix of political bloggers, activists, tech observers, and broad-based social bookmarking sites. We hope that, in the future, these communities will continue to link to OpenCongress as a rich resource for capturing the "big picture" around bills and issues at stake in Congress. Here are a few noteworthy me...

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The House Appropriations Committee today set a target date of March 7 to begin their role in preparing President Bush's $93.4 billion war supplemental appropriations request. Once the committee is done tweaking the supplemental war request, probably about a week later, it will be sent to the House floor, where its future is looking more and more uncertain. This morning at the Republican Conference meeting, House Minority Leader John Boehner told members to vote against the supplemental fundin...

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Democrats Divided Over How to Deal With Iraq

February 28, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

After a series of repeated defeats in the Senate, Democrats are slowing down to reevaluate their plans for dealing with Iraq legislation. So far, three Iraq resolutions have been pushed forward by the Senate Democratic leadership, including one by Joe Biden (pictured at right), but all three failed to find enough support to even make it to debate on the Senate floor. On the other hand, the House of Representatives was successful in passing a non-binding resolution expressing their disapprova...

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Cloture Votes Explained

February 27, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

In response to a comment on one of this site's recent blog posts, we would like to try to describe what a cloture vote actually is. Cloture votes have been invoked and rejected three times recently in the Senate, each time on a motion to proceed to debate of an Iraq resolution (S.Con.Res.2, S.470, and S.574). The events have been covered by the media as "blocked debates." The reports generally mention the cloture procedure in passing, but do not go into the details of what cloture is and ho...

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The next phase in the budgeting process begins today. The Congressional Budget Office today issued its biennial "Budget Options" report. The report comes about three weeks after President Bush issued his 2008 budget proposal. The CBO report's basic functions are to examine the presidential budget proposal and suggest options for altering it to make it fit with the budget goals on Congress. It will serve as a guidebook for lawmakers as they begin to set budget priorities, make changes, and ada...

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How To Use OpenCongress

February 26, 2007 - by David Moore

We've just completed the first day of public launch here at OpenCongress -- welcome to everyone reading. Thanks to everyone who helped spread the word about our launch by blogging about our site, and especially to everyone who wrote in with feedback and suggestions, please keep it coming: writeus@opencongress.org. Every day, our Congress Gossip Blog will highlight useful news and blog reporting from around the web and offer summaries of Congressional actions. Today, I wanted to start out by...

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The Senate will be back in session at 2PM this afternoon to begin debate on S.4, a bill to implement the unfinished recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The thing that has people holding their breath as this debate begins is whether or not legislators will try to attach their competing Iraq resolutions to it as amendments. Doing so could potentially cause the whole bill, which has overwhelming majority support, to be scrapped. Articles outlining this possibility can be found all over the in...

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Members of Congress will face some tough legislating as they return today from a week-long President's Day recess. On Thursday, the House of Representatives is scheduled to debate the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that has almost no support from Republicans but has enough support to pass on the Democratic sponsors' votes alone. The Senate is where things could get really tense this week, as Senators address the largely bi-partisan 9/11 Commission bill under the shadow of dueling partisan reso...

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Stakes Increase In Congressional Battle Over Iraq

February 23, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Democratic Senators Joe Biden (DE) and Carl Levin (MI) will be returning from recess on Tuesday the 27th, ready to place their new Iraq resolution on the table. Their new plan is different from the non-binding resolutions that have been repeatedly blocked from debate in the Senate -- if approved, it would actually become law. The plan calls for Congress' 2002 authorization of the war in Iraq to be replaced with an obligation to begin deploying the majority of U.S. troops out of Iraq by March, 2...

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Lawmakers Look Beyond The CR, To The War Supplemental

February 13, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The continuing resolution (CR), which must be approved by the Senate by Thursday, Feb. 15th in order to avoid a partial shutdown of the federal government, is currently the topic of Senate debate. But even before debate on the CR had begun in the Senate, the bill was already weighed down with the maximum amount of amendments that can be offered to any one bill. All of theses amendments came from one person, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Reid proposed the amendments as a procedural...

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This Week's Events Reinvigorate Last Week's Discourse

February 12, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate and House of Representatives will be trading tasks for the rest of the week. Each chambers will spend the week debating what their opposite chamber debated last week; the Senate will focus on the House-passed continuing resolution that will fund much of the federal government for the current fiscal year, while the House of Representatives will attempt to pass what the Senate failed to pass last week: an Iraq resolution. As Carl Hulse points out in the New York Times' Caucus blog, t...

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Here's a quick round-up of the latest news on several fronts in Congress. First, an important piece of news from Congresspedia: "Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.) [pictured at right] has decided to forgo further treatment for lung cancer which has now spread to his liver. He is leaving Washington immediately to receive hospice care at his home in Georgia. (AP story)." Second, from the Washington Post politics blog, "The Fix," comes this juicy list of Congressional endorsements already secured by 2...

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Earmarking Season Begins

February 7, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Some bloggers got a hold of this email that was circulated today, calling for senators to submit their earmark requests so they can be included in the 2008 budget: > From: Kratz, Jeff (Appropriations) > > Sent: Wednesday, February 07, 2007 12:11 PM > > To: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX > > Subject: Subcommittee deadline > > > The Labor-HHS deadline for all requests will be April 13, 2007. > > This deadline includes any programmatic funding, project funding, bill or report lan...

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Some Early Remaks on Bush's '08 Budget Proposal

February 6, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

On Monday, President Bush issued a 2,500 page, four-volume tome outlining his $2.9 trillion federal budget proposal for fiscal year 2008. It will take some time for all the details of the the Bush budget proposal to be digested, but some analyses of its general trends are already emerging. Congress Daily provided this view of discretionary spending (the optional spending determined in the budget each year, as opposed to mandatory spending on entitlements) in the proposal: Bush propose...

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Iraq Resolution Blocked From Debate

February 5, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The non-binding Warner-Levin Iraq resolution, which states that the Senate "disagrees" with the plan to increase the amount of troops in Iraq, was blocked from debate in the Senate yesterday. Republicans voted almost unanimously against a motion to begin debate on the resolution because they wanted the chance to debate other Republican-authored resolutions as well. That is, at least, the reason being stated for their vote to block debate; they are protesting the Democratic leadership, who they ...

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