OpenCongress Blog

Blog Feed Comments Feed More RSS Feeds

Summer Gas Tax Holiday

April 30, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

"Republican McCain and Democrat Clinton, who is battling Obama for their party's nomination, both want to suspend the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax during the peak summer driving months to ease the pain of soaring gas prices. The tax is used to fund the Highway Trust Fund that builds and maintains roads and bridges."

Read Full Article Comments (5)
 

Finding a Sweet Spot in the Supplemental

April 30, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

As soon as next week Congress will take up what is probably their last must-pass bill this session -- a supplemental spending bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Democrats are going to try to attach some of their remaining domestic priorities - unemployment insurance extension, increase in food stamps, veterans' education benefits - to the bill and hope that President Bush accepts them in a package deal with the war money he has requested. But a crude outline of the Democratic leadership's current plan for dealing with the bill was revealed today by a House aide, and it may make it easier for Republicans and conservative Democrats to keep the domestic spending out.

Read Full Article Submit a Comment
 

Battle Ahead for Veterans' Education Bill

April 29, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Hundreds of veterans and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle got together today on the steps of the Capitol Building to rally for the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007, a bill designed to expand education opportunities for returning soldiers. It was an impressive outpouring, and the bill's probably coming to the floors of the Senate and House soon as a part of an upcoming war funding bill. But for all its broad and bipartisan support - 57 Senate co-sponsors and 241 in the House - it may be vetoed. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has called the bill unworkable and President Bush has promised to veto the whole war funding bill if Congress puts in any extras.

Read Full Article Comments (1)
 

Saving the Orphan Works

April 27, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

There are a lot of creative works in the world that are protected by a copyright, the holder of which can't be tracked down. These are known as orphan works, and a pair of bills introduced in Congress last week seek to bring them back into the arena of creative reuse. The bills, H.R. 5889 in the House and S. 2913 in the Senate, would limit the amount of statutory damages that could be awarded should the copyright holder of an infringed orphan work eventually pop up.

Read Full Article Comments (6)
 

Frank's Foreclosure Prevention Plan

April 25, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Barney Frank (D-MA) has an interesting plan to prevent some potential foreclosures. He wants to let the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) step in and work out new mutually-beneficial deals between struggling homeowners, mortgage lenders and the government. The plan, also known as the FHA Housing Stabilization and Homeownership Retention Act, was approved yesterday by the House Financial Service Committee, and is likely going to be a central element in Congress's package of housing stimulus proposals that is beginning to shape up.

Read Full Article Comments (5)
 

Genetic Nondiscrimination

April 24, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate has passed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act by a vote of 95 (Y) to 0 (N). This bill was passed by the House in April of last year. The bill has had somewhat of an odd journey in Congress bouncing back and forth between the House and Senate for some 13 years. It hadn’t previously passed both the House and Senate in the same session of Congress. The Senate recently passed the bill in 2003 and 2005 by an overwhelming margin.

Read Full Article Comments (1)
 

In the House: Contractor Acountability Day

April 23, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

In a whirlwind of good-government legislating, the House on Wednesday passed three separate bills aimed at holding federal contractors more accountable. Below are descriptions of the three bills, taken from OMB Watch, Sunlight via POGO, and GovExec, in that order. Government Contractor Accountability Act of 2007 (H.R.3928): >Although publicly-traded firms are required by the Securities and Exchange Commission to disclose the names and salaries of top-level managers, many firms that contrac...

Read Full Article Comments (2)
 

Democrats Push Their Equal Pay Bill

April 22, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

April 22nd is generally regarded as a day to celebrate the Earth, but it's also Equal Pay Day, and the Senate is boosting awareness of this overshadowed holiday by planning a vote on a controversial bill that would strengthen equal pay laws. If the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007 were law, the Civil Right Act of 1964 would be amended to make sure that its equal pay protections are available in all cases that pay discrimination occurs, not just when complaints are filed within 180 days of the incident as the law currently requires.

Read Full Article Submit a Comment
 

This Week in Congress

April 22, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

This week in Congress, Democrats are looking at cutting a deal with President Bush over the Columbia Free Trade Agreement and the Senate will hold new hearings on global warming legislation hearings on Earth Day. Meanwhile, a new battle for extending Iraq War funding looms on the horizon.

Read Full Article Comments (1)
 

Fresh From the Hopper

April 20, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Here are some of the most notable and contentious pieces of legislation that have been been dropped in the bill hopper and introduced into Congress in the past couple of weeks. They include proposals for dealing with record gas prices, the legal status of marijuana, online gambling, and government spending. There's still time left in this session for Congress to take up some of these issues -- if you support or oppose any of these bills, track them with on My OpenCongress and start organizing a push to influence Congress.

Read Full Article Comments (4)
 

OpenCongress is Heading to NetSquared

April 18, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

A few weeks ago, we announced that OpenCongress has been chosen as a Featured Project in this year's NetSquared conference. Next week we'll be going to San Jose, California to share some of our ideas for the future of the site, and if we are selected from among the finalists, we could receive some prize money & other support to help us put our ideas into action. We are hoping to integrate a couple of exciting new data sources into OpenCongress that we think would make finding the best information about Congress easier than ever, and we want your feedback.

Read Full Article Comments (1)
 

Supplemental Catchall

April 17, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

An upcoming supplemental funding bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may be Democrats' best chance to have President Bush sign their remaining domestic priorities into law before the session ends. The President has asked Congress for an additional $108.1 billion for the wars in 2008. But members of the Democratic leadership are formulating a plan that would give Bush much more than he asked for -- this year's war money, an additional $70 billion for the wars in fiscal year 2009 and a wide smattering of domestic funds.

Read Full Article Comments (5)
 

Earmark Drama on Coconut Road

April 17, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The earmark was supposed to provide some $10 million for lane widening and other renovations to Interstate 75 in Florida. It was included in the House bill, the Senate bill and then finally in the conference report which was passed by both bodies. The controversy begins after the final bill had been passed but before it had been signed by the President. Somewhere in between that time-frame, the earmark was completely changed to provide the same amount of funding for a specific interchange along Coconut Road in Florida.

Read Full Article Submit a Comment
 

Who Should Be in Charge of Modifying Bad Loans?

April 15, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

When the Senate debated their housing stimulus bill last week, Democrats decided to leave out their proposal to let bankruptcy judges modify the terms of subprime loans in order to help ensure bipartisan support for the overall bill. But they are still hoping to get the bankruptcy proposal passed in the form of a stand-alone bill. While Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate are trying to shore up support for the measure, the mortgage industry is intensifying their push against the bill and trying to refocus Congress' attention on a milder alternative.

Read Full Article Comments (1)
 

Cadet Nurse Equity

April 14, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

"Hundreds of surviving members of the United states Cadet Nurse Corps are waging a grass roots effort to garner support for their place as Veterans of WWII. From 1943-1945 The USCNC recruited 180,000 young women; 124,000 survived the rigors and regulations in service to their country. In actuality,they were the ROTC of today and would be officers and veterans. Sixty years and seven US Cadet Nurse Equity Bills have died in committee, without a hearing."

Read Full Article Comments (2)