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Tax Cuts for Craft Beer

March 17, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Did you know that the House of Representatives has a Small Brewers Caucus? Me either. But, then again, I also didn't know about the "I‐73/74 Corridor Caucus" or the "Modeling and Simulation Caucus," so my ignorance on the matter isn't much of a surprise.

The Small Brewers Caucus is pushing a bill (H.R. 4278) from Rep. Richard Neal [D, MA-2] that would redefine "small" in the age of craft beers and create a new graduated excise tax rate for small breweries so that brewers who produce 100 barrels a year aren't paying the same tax rate as, say, Yuengling.

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Not to be Missed

March 17, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Sen. Ted Kaufman [D, DE] gave a widely lauded floor speech last week calling for strong financial reform legislation and an end to "too big the fail." Now that C-SPAN has put their entire archive online, I can post it here:

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Kucinich Will Vote "Yes"

March 17, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

When health care passed the House in November, Rep. Dennis Kucinich [D, OH-10] was one of the 39 Democrats who voted "no." He was one of the only vote Democrats lost to the left; the only Democrat voting against it because the bill didn't do enough to eliminate for-profit insurance.

But, this morning, he said he will vote "yes" on the Senate's health care bill, even though it is more conservative than the House health care bill he originally voted "no" on.

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House Wishes Iranians a Happy Nowruz

March 16, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Nowruz is the Iranian New Year, which is celebrated each year on the vernal equinox, otherwise known as the first day of Spring. For the first time ever, the House of Representatives has voted to wish "Iranian-Americans and the people of Iran and all those who observe this holiday a prosperous new year."

The resolution, H.Res.627, was sponsored by Rep. Michael Honda [D, CA-15] and 57 others. It passed on Monday evening by a vote of 384-2. 44 members of the House, 20 Democrats and 24 Republicans, abstained. The two "no" votes were Rep. Jeff Miller [R, FL-1] and Rep. Bill Posey [R, FL-15].

The full text of the resolution is after the jump:

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Congress Links

March 16, 2010 - by Eric Naing

The intensity from both sides over health care has really ramped up since yesterday. Expect things to get increasinly brutal as the week goes on – and it's only Tuesday. And where's that CBO score? Anyway, here's today's look at a few articles and blog posts of note:

  • The New Republic's Byron Tau wants to know why the political press has such a hard time accurately explaining what really happens under “deem and pass.” (The New Republic)
  • Ezra Klein answers: “Deem and pass,” while legitimate, is still needlessly convoluted. (The Washington Post)
  • The Wonk Room has an excellent rundown of the differences between Sen. Chris Dodd's [D, CT] financial reform bill and comparable proposals from the House and the White House. (The Wonk Room)
  • Roll Call has an interesting look at KSA Consulting, a lobbying firm with close ties to the late John Murtha. After Murtha's death, KSA appears to have shut down. (Roll Call)
  • How did Kesha Rogers, a devotee of extremist Lyndon LaRouche, win a Democratic primary for TX-22? Elise Hu of the Texas Tribune explains. (The Texas Tribune)
  • The Hill's Jeffrey Young reports that Rep. Dennis Kucinich [D, OH-10], a previous “no” vote on health care, will hold a press conference tomorrow at 10 am to announce how he will vote on the Senate health care bill. (Twitter)

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As I reported earlier, the "deem and pass" strategy that House Democrats are considering using for passing the Senate health care bill, allowing them to pass it without actually taking a separate vote on it, isn't unprecedented. It has been used at least 6 times for in the past 20 years for enacting what the Congressinoal Research Service calls "significant substantive and sometimes controversial propositions," mostly by Republicans.

But it has never been used in the way the Democrats are considering using it -- to pass a bill through the House that doesn't have the votes to pass on its own. As the research below shows, 4 of the 6 uses of the "deem and pass" process, also known as the "self-executing rule," were approved unanimously by voice vote. The other two passed with votes to spare. These are on the 6 supposedly controversial uses of the rule that CRS gives. It appears that the process has mainly been used to speed up adoption of Senate amendments that would have been easily approved under normal procedure.

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Ironically, the legislative maneuver chosen to protect on-the-fence House Democrats from the political fallout of voting for the Senate health care bill (H.R.3590) could actually derail it. Conservative outrage over a plan to have the House pass the bill with a self-executing rule now has lawmakers arguing over process rather than policy.

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Since the politics of the self-executing rule (a.k.a. the "deem and pass" strategy, or the "Slaughter solution") are blowing up right now -- discussion of the rule currently dominates the top half of Memerorandum -- I thought I should bring back this historcial information from a post I wrote when the idea of using the rule for health care was first reported.

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Senate Breaks Filibuster on HIRE Act

March 16, 2010 - by Eric Naing

For a second time, the Senate is expected to vote on an $18 billion jobs bill known as the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment, or HIRE, Act (H.R.2847).

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160,000 Hours of C-SPAN

March 15, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

This is a dream come true!:

Researchers, political satirists and partisan mudslingers, take note: C-Span has uploaded virtually every minute of its video archives to the Internet.

The archives, at C-SpanVideo.org, cover 23 years of history and five presidential administrations and are sure to provide new fodder for pundits and politicians alike. The network will formally announce the completion of the C-Span Video Library on Wednesday.

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Bills on the Floor this Week

March 15, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

With all the news on health care and financial reform today, I nearly forgot to post about all the other bills that will be coming up for votes in Congress this week. Even though the Democratc leaders have a huge amount of work on their plates to round up the remaing dozen or so votes they need for finalizing the passage of health care reform later in the week, both chambers have the usual slate of bills scheduled for floor action.

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Congress Links

March 15, 2010 - by Eric Naing

With a House vote on the Senate health care bill (H.R.3590) expected by Friday or Saturday, much of this week will be consumed by whipping up votes. Despite media reports of liberal dissent, it's surprising how quickly Democratic leaders and many of the pillars of the Democratic coalition have lined up to get this bill passed. Here's more on those efforts and a few other articles and blog posts of note today.

  • Nancy Pelosi [D, CA-8] and Harry Reid [D, NV] are simultaneously plotting a path to a vote and whipping their members in support of the bill. (Roll Call)
  • President Obama has begun the process of personally summoning potential “no” votes to one-on-one meetings to try and convince them to vote “yes.” (The Plum Line)
  • Liberal grassroots organization MoveOn.org is raising money to run this heavy-handed ad urging lawmakers to be "on the right side of history" and vote for the bill. (Time)
  • Andy Stern, president of the powerful Service Employees International Union, is threatening to run primary campaigns against Democrats who vote to sink the bill. (The New York Times)
  • Of course, business leaders are also launching a multi-million dollar ad campaign to try and sink the bill. (Talking Points Memo)
  • A Republican operative pens a very personal essay explaining why he wants to see the Democratic health care plan become law. (FrumForum)
  • Former House Republican and current Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood pens an op-ed explaining why he wants to see the health care plan pass. (The Chicago Tribune)

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Dodd Throws Volcker a Bone

March 15, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The Obama-proposed Volcker Rule, which is designed to prohibit banks from engaging in high-risk speculation that has no societal benefit, was supposed to be "dead on arrival" in the Senate. Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Christopher Dodd [D, CT], who is retiring and hopes to pass financial reform as a last boost to his legacy, saw the proposal as a poorly-timed addition to the legislation that could threaten its support from conservative, pro-Wall Street lawmakers.

But from the summary of the bill released today by Dodd, it appears to be included ...just in a watered-down, toothless iteration:

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Summary of the Dodd Financial Reform Bill

March 15, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Sen. Christopher Dodd [D, CT] unveiled his long-awaited financial reform bill this afternoon, calling it the most sweeping reform of Wall Street since the 1930s. It's a 1,336-page document, which you can read in full here (PDF). But in case your not in the mood right now to dive into the details of derivatives reform, consumer financial protection and systemic risk regulation in full legalese, I've converted the 11-page summary from Dodd's office into HTML and posted it here. This is no substitue for a thorough, independent analysis, but it at least gives you a sense of the bill's scope -- what's in it and what isn't.

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House Democrats are are considering three paths that would lead to a vote on health care by the end of the week. Two of the options would result in the Senate bill (H.R.3590) becoming the law of the land pending a successful vote, while the third option would kick responsibility for making the bill law over to the Senate.

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