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Tax AIG bonuses at 100%

March 17, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

As David Waldman at CongressMatters points out, the scandal over executive bonuses at A.I.G. has set off a race to the hopper. The legislative solutions that's picking up the most steam is Rep. Carolyn Maloney's [D, NY-14] plan to levy a 100 percent tax on bonuses to AIG execs that are not related to a commission. The bill's not up on OpenCongress yet- we'll update when it is. Here's the text of a letter she sent around yesterday to members of the House: Dear Colleague: Like many of...

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It's none other than AIG Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Edward M. Liddy. I'm not sure exactly how long this has been planned, but, for Liddy, this is awful timing given the recent news that his company, which has taken $170 billion in taxpayer bailout money, is paying out $165 million in bonuses to their executives

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Public Lands Bill Comes Up Short

March 12, 2009 - by Avelino Maestas

House members defeated a huge public lands bill on Wednesday, when the Omnibus Public Land Management Act fell two votes shy of approval. Conservationists called the bill "landmark legislation" because it would have protected more than 2 million acres of federal land as wilderness. It was a procedural move by House leaders, however, that led to the bill's failure.

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Opportunity

March 12, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

If Al Franken is seated in Minnesota, it looks like Senate Democrats will still be one vote short of breaking an inevitable Republican filibuster of the Employee Free Choice Act. There is only one Senate Republican who might possibly side with the Democrats. Sen. Arlen Specter [R, PA] voted for the bill last year, and he's on the fence as to whether or not he'll vote for it again this year. If he does, he'll likely enable the Democrats to get the bill, which would make it easier for workers to...

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Employee Free Choice Act of 2009

March 11, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Card check, EFCA, whatever you want to cal it, here's the bill as re-introduced into the 111th session of Congress on March 10, 2009:

S. 560 - Employee Free Choice Act of 2009 (Senate version)

H.R. 1409 - Employee Free Choice Act of 2009
(House version)

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From Dismal to Mediocre in Just Two Months

March 11, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Civil Rights, Health Care, Stimulus

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Second Try for Speedy Senate Disclosure

March 11, 2009 - by Avelino Maestas

Sen. Russ Feingold has reintroduced the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, legislation that would force the Senate to provide speedy access to campaign finance information. Efforts to approve the bill during the 110th Congress were stifled by Republicans attempts to attach non-germane amendments and hold other bills hostage. In the 111th Congress, Sen. Pat Roberts is insisting on an amendment that would require outside groups to disclose their donors when filing ethics complaints against senators.

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Sen. Russell Feingold's [D, WI] constitutional amendment to require that Senate vacancies are filled by public election will receive its first major action by Congress tomorrow. The House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties and the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution will hold a joint hearing at 10 am EST on S.J. Res. 7 - A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to the election of Senators. The main portion...

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The Money Behind EFCA

March 10, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

As I'm sure you have heard, the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) was re-introduced into the 111th session of Congress today. It's expected to be brought to a vote by Congress sometime this summer, and the PR and lobbying leading up to the vote is going to be both dramatic and expensive. OpenSecrets has info on the special-interest money fueling the debate: Sen. Thomas Harkin [D, IA], who introduced the bill in the Senate today, has collected more money from the labor sector than any other...

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Omnibustle

March 10, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

After rejecting 22 consecutive Republican amendments to the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 the Senate passed it this evening, 62-35, without any changes to the version already passed by the House. Senatus reports: Senators have passed the Omnibus Appropriations bill (H.R. 1105) by a vote of 62 to 35. The vote actually occurred on a procedural (cloture) motion to end debate on the bill. Per a previous consent agreement, the legislation was subsequently passed by Voice Vote. The bill...

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EFCA Day

March 10, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Today, Democrats in both the House and Senate will officially introduce organized labor's chief legislative priority - the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) - for the 111th Congress. Normally, the introduction of a bill into Congress isn't big news, but the battle over EFCA has been especially epic. The bill would be a huge boost for the formation of new unions, and probably the most significant change to US labor law since the 1950s. By taking away employers' powers to demand a secret ballot elections for union certification after a majority of employees have already signed union authorization cards, EFCA would tip the scales significantly in the union organizers' favor.

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The Senate kicks off the week with a busy start, as Democratic leaders attempt to keep the caucus in line on the omnibus spending bill. In the House, a vote on D.C. voting rights legislation is probable on Tuesday, and House members may be required to approve any changes made to the omnibus spending bill. In addition, the Employee Free Choice Act will be introduced in both chambers Tuesday.

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Will Specter Go Democrat?

March 7, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Sen. Arlen Specter [R, PA] is one of the Republicans most likely to vote with Democrats and help them overcome Republican filibusters on key votes. According to our voting trend analysis (scroll down half page here), he votes with his party, the Republicans, only 48 percent of the time. Not surprisingly, he is facing a very difficult primary race in 2010. Specter's best chance for remaining a U.S. senator after this session likely involves switching parties and running as a Democrat:

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We have four major features to announce on OpenCongress today, and we are very excited about each one of them. Here's an overview, with more info and examples in the full post:

1. OpenCongress Wiki - for every Senator, Representative and major piece of legislation in Congress, there is now a space for people to work together to build a comprehensive overview of all the most important information.

2. Videos from Metavid, the open video archive of the U.S. Congress, and the YouTube hubs for the House and Senate. Now, for every Senator, Representative, and major bill in Congress, OpenCongress shows you embedded video footage of relevant floor speeches, official announcements, and more.

3. Inline bill text commenting, now with the ability to compare different versions of a bill. Building off our feature to comment and link to a bill's official text, paragraph-by-paragraph, now text changes are displayed in different color type for at-a-glance comparison.

4. For the Read The Bill campaign from the Sunlight Foundation and others, a new page to track bills that have been rushed through the Congressional process.

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Last year the House of Representatives passed legislation to expand hate crimes law to include violent acts motivated by the actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim. But the bill stalled in the Senate over its protection for transgender people and the House went back and passed weakened version of the bill that did not include the transgender language. But even the weaker version did not make it through the Senate. Now, with an expanded D...

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