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The Week In Review

February 26, 2010 - by Eric Naing

It again was a busy week – busier than usual. Health care, driven by yesterday's health care summit and Monday's release of the White House health care plan, dominated most of the week, but Congress also managed to consider several important issues such as the Senate's jobs bill and unemployment insurance. Here's what we've been up to this week at OpenCongress:

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Blocking the EPA from dealing with climate change if Congress fails to act is now a bipartisan, bicameral effort: NYT reports: Two top House Democrats introduced a measure yesterday aimed at blocking U.S. EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases, mirroring the controversial effort launched on the Senate side by Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski. The measure from Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Missouri's Ike Skelton was also co-sponsored by Missouri Republican Jo...

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The heads of the Pentagon and the Justice Department have urged House leaders to reject any legislation preventing the government from prosecuting alleged terrorists in civilian courts or military commissions. As I mentioned earlier, a bipartisan coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats are pushing a House (H.R.4556) and Senate bill (S.2977) that would prevent government dollars from being spent on civilian trials for five alleged 9/11 co-conspirators including Khalid Sheikh Mohamme...

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Sen. Gregg Defends Budget Reconciliation ...in 2005

February 26, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

This 2005 floor speech on using budget reconciliation for passing ANWR oil drilling by Sen. Judd Gregg [R, NH] is actually a really strong defense of the Democrats' finishing their health care reform bill with the budget reconciliation process:

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Rangel Under Fire For Breaking House Rules

February 26, 2010 - by Eric Naing

An admonishment by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct could threaten the powerful chairmanship of Rep. Charlie Rangel [D, NY-15].

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Rangel Still Popular in NY

February 26, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The powerful House Ways and Rep. Charles Rangel [D, NY-15] is a great example. For the past year or so, he's been tied up in some really ugly ethics investigations. Yesterday, he was found to have violated House ethics rules by accepting paid vacations from corporations that employ lobbyists. But look at his approval numbers -- only 12.9% nationally approve of the job he's doing, while a full 67% of New Yorkers approve.

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Policy Discussions are Popular

February 26, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Whether you think the health care summit yesterday was a healthy discussion, or just more of the same rhetoric, there is evidence that the summit format, which allows for unscripted and spontaneous discussion, is just way more popular than other big political events: The White House says that over the course of the day the White House webcast of the summit served 3.9M streams and peaked at 60k concurrent viewers. By contrast the State of the Union webcast served 1.3M streams and peaked of 85k. ...

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The House today could vote on an intelligence authorization bill for the current fiscal year, but only after an amendment allowing criminal prosecutions for CIA officers engaging in torture was stripped from it.

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The AP reports on Sen. Jim Bunning's [R, KY] forced delay of congressional action to extend unemployment insurance benefits (H.R. 4691), which will begin expiring for millions of unemployed Americans on Monday:

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Some Thoughts on the Summit

February 25, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

On the surface, today's health care summit didn't change much of anything. No bipartisan agreement was struck on how to move forward. But, on another level, there was something fresh and even historic about what happened. The summit brought with it some big developments on how the public can (and should) be interacting with national policy issues.

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Congress Links

February 25, 2010 - by Eric Naing

The health care summit just concluded and we'll have more analysis soon. Until then, here are some articles and blog posts that you may have missed: David Weigel chronicles the cut-throat jockeying among Republicans to win the chance to take the seat of the late John Murtha [D, PA-12]. (The Washington Independent) On the other side of the aisle, Murtha's widow Joyce has endorsed Mark Critz, a former aide to her husband, in the Democratic primary for the same seat. (The New York Times) Se...

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Earlier this week Sen. Ron Wyden [D, OR] and Sen. Judd Gregg [R, NH] introduced legislation that would cut the corporate income tax but also eliminate certain corporate tax breaks. Online poker fans are also excited about a provision in the bill legalizing Internet gambling. Wyden's and Gregg's Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act replaces the federal corporate income tax of 35 percent with a flat 24 percent rate. The bill also reduces the six existing marginal income tax brackets to...

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Scientists Want More Scientific Integrity in Congress

February 25, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Frustrated by the all-powerful influence of corporations and special interests in congressional decision making? Do you wish more federal policy was guided by science and objective research? Well, some concerned scientists have an idea for a solution.

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White House Fights Health Care "Plan B" Story

February 25, 2010 - by Eric Naing

In advance of today's health care summit, the White House is furiously working to push back on a Wall Street Journal story claiming that it could fall back on a scaled down “Plan B” health care plan. The WSJ reports that Plan B would provide insurance for about half as many Americans, roughly 15 million as the current health care plans do: It would do that by requiring insurance companies to allow people up to 26 years old to stay on their parents' health plans, and by modestly expanding t...

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Your Guide to the WH Health Care Summit

February 25, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

If you're looking for a good spot to watch today's six-hour session of live health care wonk-out, you've come to the right place. We've got the live video feed and tons of helpful contextualizing links posted on the OpenCongress blog. Click though to watch the live video and share your comments throughout the day.

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