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CFPA Still Languishing In The Senate

February 17, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Republicans and a handful of pro-business Democrats are standing in opposition to an independent consumer financial watchdog agency – a central pillar of President Obama's financial regulation agenda

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Congress Links

February 16, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Even though the House and Senate are in recess until next week, the drama continues on Capitol Hill. Here are a few articles and blog posts of note from the day:

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It's Alive? Liberal Democrats Push Public Option Again

February 16, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Could the public option rise from the grave? Four Democratic Senators have urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] to use the reconciliation process to revive the idea that was formerly dropped from the Senate health care bill (H.R.3590). In a letter, which you can read here, Sen. Michael Bennet [D, CO], Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand [D, NY], Sen. Jeff Merkley [D, OR] and Sen. Sherrod Brown [D, OH] spell out four reasons for once again pushing the public option: [I]ts potential for b...

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Two More Democrats Target Bank Bonuses

February 16, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Two Senate Democrats are throwing another log on the now-annual firestorm over excessive bank bonuses. Earlier this month, Sen. Jim Webb [D, VA] and Sen. Barbara Boxer [D, CA] unveiled a proposal to tax employee bonuses at certain banks and Wall Street firms that received bailout funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Dubbed the Taxpayer Fairness Act, Webb and Boxer's bill would impose a one-time, 50 percent tax on the bonuses at those firms and banks that exceeded $400,000 la...

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It's a common refrain from Republicans in the year since the $787 billion stimulus became law: trash it in public but accept or even beg for the money for their districts in private.

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If Democrats can't pass a politically popular bill that doesn't rock the boat, what can they pass? A couple weeks ago, Donny highlighted a bill (H.R.3596) that would revoke the exemption the health insurance and medical malpractice industries enjoy from federal antitrust laws. This measure is part of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's [D, CA-8] “Plan B” strategy of passing smaller, popular health-care-related bills to build momentum for the big health care reform bill (H.R.3590). The health insur...

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Opposed to Even Their Own Ideas

February 16, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The requirement in the Democrats' health care bills that all individuals have some form of insurance coverage has become a prime target of Republican scorn. But, as NPR's Julie Rovner explains, the idea actually originated with Republicans and enjoyed broad bipartisan support until just recently.

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Bayh on Congress

February 15, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Announcing his retirement plans this afternoon, Sen. Evan Bayh [D, IN] cited the dysfunctions of Congress as his main reason:

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When Sen. Bob Corker [R, TN] said last week that he still though a bipartisan financial reform bill was still possible, he must have meant that the Democrats would go along Republicans' demands to remove the most significant part of the bill. Bloomberg: “What you don’t want to have in my opinion is a consumer protection agency that’s free standing,” Corker said. “Nor do you want one that is inside another entity but acts as if it’s freestanding.” The whole point of creating a freestanding C...

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New, Potentially Final, HCR Bill Soon

February 12, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Friday afternoon, Rahn Emanuel formally invited a couple dozen high-ranking member of Congress to a meeting on reforming health care. According to the invite, the meeting will be broadcast live in its entirety and they'll be discussing four things: "insurance reforms, cost containment, expanding coverage, and the impact health reform legislation will have on deficit reduction." But there will also be some new legislation for the talks to revolve around. From the invite: Since this meeting w...

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The Week In Review

February 12, 2010 - by Eric Naing

A historic blizzard virtually shut down Washington, D.C. for most of the week but we here at OpenCongress braved the snow to keep you up-to-date on what happened in the political world. Here's a roundup of what we did this week

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The economy and a host of other factors have made the political environment downright toxic for incumbents. Facing tough midterm campaigns, several Congressional Democrats and Republicans have decided to retire at the end of their term this year. Four House members announced their retirement just this week: Rep. Vern Ehlers [R, MI-3], Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart [R, FL-21], Rep. Diane Watson [D, CA-33] and Rep. Patrick Kennedy [D, RI-1]. In total, 12 Democrats (four from the Senate, eight from th...

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Rep. Edward Markey [D, MA-7] has introduced a bill to update federal subsidies for technological investments in schools and libraries. One update he's proposing would give particularly low-income students the "opportunity to apply for meaningfully discounted services and technologies for the use of e-books."

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How Big Pharma Got Their Special Deal

February 12, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Our colleague Paul Blumenthal, blogging at Sunlight Foundation Blog, tells the story of how a President who ran for office on his rejection of insider-lobbyist culture in Washington ends up, within one year of taking office, striking a secret deal with a giant lobbying firm that ultimately contributes to the downfall of his signature policy priority. It involves all of the plot elements you would expect, including: The revolving door Campaign contributions An army of lobbyists Closed d...

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Filibuster Reform

February 12, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

After three-and-a-half years of record obstructionism, Sen. Tom Harkin [D, IA] has introduced legislation to reform the Senate's filibuster process.

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