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More On the Cost of Earmarking

April 16, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

There are a lot of problems with the growth of earmarked spending -- lawmakers' pet projects get funded at the expense of tax payers, massive amounts of spending go forward without the possibility of anyone being held accountable, peer review and other spending safeguards are bypassed in the process, etc... But as earmark spending has quadrupled in the past 10 years, a new downside of earmarking has emerged: it is costing the government itself more money to operate. Recently, when the OMB was...

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The Week Ahead in Congress

April 15, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate and the President will be at odds again this week as legislation is once again taken up in spite of a threatened veto. Last week, the Senate approved a bill to provide federal funding for stem cell research, a proposal that President Bush says crosses "a moral boundary." This week, they will convene at 2PM today to consider another bill under the threat of a veto -- S.372, the Intelligence Agencies FY2007 Authorization bill. The bill will serve as a blueprint for the Intelligence ...

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Bush Prepares For a Difficult Veto

April 13, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

This morning, President Bush prepared to veto the stem cell bill by practicing his rhetoric at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast: >Renewing the promise of America begins with upholding the dignity of human life. (Applause.) In our day, there is a temptation to manipulate life in ways that do not respect the humanity of the person. When that happens, the most vulnerable among us can be valued for their utility to others -- instead of their own inherent worth. We must continue to work for a...

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Immigration Debate Moves to the Right

April 13, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Here is the AP's most recent analysis [links added] of the behind-the-scenes struggle to round up support for passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year: >The terms of the immigration debate have turned less friendly for illegal immigrants as lawmakers and the Bush administration struggle to reach a deal in the next few weeks. > >In an ironic twist, the outlines of a potential deal have moved to the right - toward a more difficult road to citizenship for the nation's roughly 1...

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Did President Bush and Senate Republicans pull a fast one yesterday on stem-cell-research-supporting Democrats? For some reason, eighteen Senate Democrats voted "aye" yesterday on two contradictory bills: one that would provide federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, and another that would put in place a law to permanently block federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. S.30, the bill that would block federal funding, was presented by Norm Coleman (R, MN) (pictured at right)...

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S.5, the bill to allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, will be voted on it the Senate in a matter of hours. President Bush has vowed to veto the bill if it passes. He vetoed this same bill when Congress approved it last year. This time around, the Senate is ever so close to having the two-thirds majority support that they need to override his veto and enact the bill anyways. Yesterday, two supporters of the bill disagreed over whether or not they have two-thirds support: ...

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Are Republicans Starting to Crack on Iraq?

April 10, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The Politico is reporting that some Republicans are cracking on their opposition to a bill with a date for troops to be withdrawn from Iraq. >A diverse collection of House Republicans has formed an ad hoc group to negotiate with the White House on a compromise Iraq spending bill, Politico's Ryan Grim reports. The group plans to hold talks with National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, who has been working behind the scenes to cement opposition among Republicans to the spending bill that would ...

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Two New Polls, Choose Your Results

April 10, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Two new polls have just been released, and regardless of which side you are more inclined to favor -- the Republican President or the Democratic-controlled Congress -- there is one for you to be proud of. The USA Today/Gallop poll has Instapundit declaring: "Congress's Approval Rate: Still lower than Bush's. And disapproval is higher" The Gallop poll itself put it this way: >Gallup's monthly update on key trends and indicators finds a modest improvement in the approval ratings Amer...

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Stem Cell Bill to Test Bush's Morals Once Again

April 9, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The bill to provide federal funding for embryonic stem cell research is going to beat the war-funding supplemental in becoming the first vetoed bill of the 110th Congress. It is scheduled to be voted on later this week and vetoed soon thereafter. This bill has already been vetoed once before. In the previous (109th) Congress, it was approved by the Republican-led House and Senate, but fell just short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to override a presidential veto. Now, In the De...

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Where Things Stand As the Senate Returns

April 9, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate will be back from Easter recess tomorrow. Here are a couple strands of news to catch up on before then: Compromised Veto Fodder First off, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (pictured at right) and John Boehner (R-OH), the Republican leaders from the Senate and House, are asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to bring the House of Representatives back from recess early. The Republican leaders want to begin negotiating a compromise bill between the supplemental war funding bills, as passed i...

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Submit a Tip and Help Open Up Congress

April 5, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Do you know something about Congress that you want to see published on our front page? You may have some of the best, juiciest information about Congress, and if you want more people to know about it, submit a tip to be published on OpenCongress and the Congress Gossip Blog. Anyone can submit a tip, either anonymously, or attributed to your name and email address. You can submit just about anything -- news about Congress that is slipping under the media radar, a cool Congress-related news or b...

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What's going to happen once the President vetoes the war funding bill that Congress approved last week? Basically, the Democratic leadership (pictured at right), in both the House and the Senate, are going to have to write a new version of the bill and go through the same nerve-wracking process that they went through last time -- wrangling support from less-than-satisfied lawmakers, vote by vote. Paul Kane, at the Capitol Briefing blog, has some insights into what they will be up against this t...

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A group of Representatives today sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) asking her to oppose any legislation that would allow immigrants who are currently here illegally, to participate in a path to citizenship program. The letter below was signed by 97 members of the House of Representatives. It was written and circulated by Representatives Brian Bilbray (R-CA)[at right] and Lamar Smith (R-TX). Where they state, in the first line, that the group of supporters is "Democratic ...

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Way To Be, OMB!

April 4, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The Office of Management and Budget today released a database of all the earmarks in the Fiscal Year 2005 budget. Hopefully they will get in the habit of putting together a database like this for all future budgets. Having this information available is a huge step forward for government transparency and accountability. But, if we really want to keep our elected officials accountable, we will need all the current information as it is put into current budgets by officials who are currently in ...

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By far, the most commonly searched for term on OpenCongress is "Immigration." It is searched for nearly twice as often as the next most common search term, "Obama," and more than three times more often than "Iraq." Despite all of the interest, Congress has been slow to move on immigration legislation. Here's an overview of where things stand on this issue right now: As they have on almost every other major issue so far, the House of Representatives is moving more quickly on a comprehensive ...

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