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Highlights from PDF '11

June 8, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

David and I spent the past couple days in New York City attending the 2011 Personal Democracy Forum. PDF is, in my opinion, the absolute best tech-politics event going. Every year it brings together folks from around the world, from inside and outside of government, and from across political spectrums to talk about how technology is affecting the way people interact with the world and what we should be doing to ensure it is advancing freedom and self governance, not censorship and authoritarianism. This year's theme was "Agents of Change" --- here's video of few of the most memorable moments.

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Senate Moves to Economic Development Bill

June 7, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

After renewing the PATRIOT Act and taking some time off, the Senate is ready to try again to do something related to the unemployment crisis we are stuck in. In April they spent weeks working on asmall business jobs bill, only to see it filibustered in the end over a controversial amendment. Now they're going to try the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011, which would reauthorize and expand the grant-making Economic Development Administration through 2015. Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] has filed for cloture on the bill, but he's hoping to reach a unanimous consent agreement to proceed to it this afternoon.

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Weiner Goes Topless

June 6, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

It looks like another married congressman from New York may have been sending topless pictures of himself to women on the internet. In revelations reminiscent of theRep. Chris Lee [R, NY-26] scandal in February that ended in resignation and ultimately a flip in the party hold of the seat, Andrew Breitbart reports for BigGovernment that Rep. Anthony Weiner [D, NY-9] recently emailed topless pictures of himself to a woman who is not his wife. At the same time, Radar Online is reporting that Weiner had engaged in some pretty heavy sexting and phone sex with a Democratic campaign staff

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The Week Ahead in Congress

June 6, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The House is out of session for the week, as the Senate returns to D.C. from their week off. Because the Senate does a horrible job of making their legislative intentions known in advance, for the most part we can only guess what they'll be up to. First here's what we know for sure

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Dealing WIth Libya

June 3, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

House Republicans have finally decided on how to deal with the growing discontent over that pesky, probably unconstitutional war in Libya. They're going to put the Dennis Kucinich [D, OH-10] withdrawalresolution that they pulled from the floor earlier in the week because it might have passed back on the calendar for a vote Friday. But they're also going to hold a vote on a new, non-binding resolution, from Speaker John Boehner [R, OH-8], that criticizes that Obama for not go through the proper channels in authorizing the war and requiring him to provide Congress with detailed info about the rationale behind getting involved. The strategy: give anti-war and constitutionalist Reps. something meaningful to vote for, but also give middle-of-the-road Reps. a way to allow Obama to continue his war but still be able to tell their constituents that they voted against it.

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More "tough choices" revealed in the latest House appropriations bill:

House Republicans unveiled a scaled-back $30.6 billion energy and water budget Wednesday that makes deep cuts from energy efficiency and renewable energy programs while trying to stabilize science and defense investments within tighter spending caps. […]

Within the Department of Energy, for example, science programs are held stable at $4.8 billion—just $42 million below the agreed upon 2011 level. And in the defense field, nuclear weapon activities are promised nearly $7.1 billion, a cut from the department’s request but still $195 million over 2011.

By comparison, energy efficiency and renewable energy programs are big losers. Total funding in this sector is set at $1.3 billion, less than half of President Barack Obama’s request and $491 million below current funding.

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Yesterday, House Republican leadership pulled Rep. Dennis Kucinich's [D, OH-10] resolution forcing an end to U.S. involvement in Libya from the floor after it became clear that it may have actually passed. The Republicans either don't want to give Kucinich a win, or they don't actually want to get in the way of the expansion of presidential war authority. They do, however, want to take the opportunity to embarrass Obama. And they want to at least appear to defend Congress' constitutional role as the sole war-declaring power. So they're in a bit of a pickle. 

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The House Republican leadership is worried that Congress might stand up to the Obama Administration and assert its constitutional prerogative as the only branch of government that can declare war. The House was scheduled to vote this afternoon on a a privileged resolution from Rep. Dennis Kucinich [D, OH-10]directing the President, pursuant to the War Powers Act, to remove U.S. armed forces from Libya. But the House leadership has pulled it from the floor because, according to Republican aides who spoke with Fox News, "it became clear that it might succeed."

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