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All the health care buzz has centered around the budget reconciliation process, but Republicans are starting to realize that the truly important part of the process is whether the House can pass the Senate health care bill (H.R.3590).

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Bills on the Floor this Week

March 8, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The health care reform process continues in the background, but Congress will also be voting on other consequential legislation this week. The House is scheduled to debate and vote on winding down the war in Afghanistan and impeaching a New Orleans judge on corruption charges. The Senate, meanwhile, will continue working on jobs legislation.

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The Week In Review

March 5, 2010 - by Eric Naing

What a week. Jim Bunning's [R, KY] filibuster of a bill extending unemployment insurance dominated the beginning of the week but Democrats also made some progress on the health care front. Expect both issues to resurface in the coming weeks as the real hard work for both comes next. Here's a look at what we've been up to this week at OpenCongress: Rep. Bunning oddly chose the issue of unemployment insurance as a hill to die on. His opposition to the temporary extensions bill continued, even...

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Lieberman Introduces DADT Repeal Bill

March 5, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Sen. Joe Lieberman [D, CT] on Wednesday introduced legislation (S.3065) that would halt the discharges of gay and lesbian service members and allow for the eventual repeal of the “don't ask, don't tell policy” banning gays from serving openly in the military.

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In what were thought to be the waning days of the health care reform process, Rep. Bart Stupak [D, MI-1] came out of left field and introduced the issue of abortion to the debate - nearly sinking everything. Now that health care is again inching towards a finish line, Stupak has returned.

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Rep. Bart Stupak [D, MI-1] went on Good Morning America yesterday to say that he has the votes and is ready to sink the Senate health care bill (and the whole health care reform process in Congress) if it is not changed to match the language he added to the health care bill in the House. But Stupak doesn't have his facts straight on how the Senate bill's prohibition on federal funds for abortions actually works.

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Congress Links

March 4, 2010 - by Eric Naing

As more and more keeps happening with health care, it gets harder to keep track of everything else that's happening with Congress. To help you keep informed on both fronts, here's today's look at some articles and blog posts of note:

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This should be fairly obvious. It's a process designed to allow Congress to implement legislation that they have accounted for in their budget without being blocked by partisan tactics. But some Republicans, for example Orrin Hatch, have begun claiming that the process is actually used most often for bipartisan, broadly-supported bills. New research from the Sunlight Foundation show that Hatch and the Republicans are wrong. Of the 13 reconciliation votes that Congress has taken since 1990 (whi...

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Sen. Jay Rockefeller [D, WV] is the latest in a bipartisan series of lawmakers who are trying to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its power to regulate greenhouse gases. Not-so-coincidentally, many of these lawmakers have ties to the industries that would be most affected.

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Budget Reconciliation and the Constitution

March 4, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

As the Democrats solidify their plans to use the budget reconciliation process to amend the health care bill, a new argument is bubbling up among Republicans -- that what they are attempting to do is unconstitutional. But, in using budget reconciliation to finish health care the Democrats are squarely within the bounds of congressional rules that were established on a bipartisan basis using constitutionally given powers.

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Health Care Endgame In Congress Starts This Week

March 4, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Democrats are hoping that this week marks the beginning of the end of their long and tortured effort to pass a health care reform bill.

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Congress Links

March 3, 2010 - by Eric Naing

The Senate Democrats made some more progress on their jobs agenda by passing a short-term UI extension and President Obama looks like he's preparing his party for a health care endgame. Expect much more drama from both issues this month. But for now, check out today's roundup of worthwhile blog posts and articles from around the web:

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Dems Push Longer-Term Unemployment Benefits

March 3, 2010 - by Eric Naing

A bill extending unemployment insurance and COBRA health insurance benefits for 30 days was signed into law last night and congressional Democrats are now hoping to extend those benefits through the end of this year. Amidst the chaos surrounding Sen. Jim Bunning's [R, KY] filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] and Sen. Max Baucus [D. MT] on Monday unveiled their bill to provide longer-term relief to the unemployed. Included as an amendment to an existing House bill (H.R.4213)...

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In his health care announcement today, President Obama made his strongest call yet for Congress to finish health care soon and to do it through the budget reconciliation process. "[Health care reform] deserves the same kind of up-or-down vote that was cast on welfare reform, the Children's Health Insurance Program, COBRA health coverage for the unemployed, and both Bush tax cuts."

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Rangel Steps Down

March 3, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Rep. Charles Rangel [D, NY-15] Democrat, one of the most powerful Democrats in the House, announced this morning that he is temporarily stepping down from his role as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. The House ethics committee last week found him to have violated House ethics rules in 2007 by accepting travel from corporations that employ lobbyists.

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