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Congresspedia is introducing a host of exciting new features that will help open up access to insider information on legislation and policy issues being dealt with in Congress. Congresspedia now has pages for bills in Congress and fourteen policy portals. These new sections will allow citizens and policy experts from all political perspectives to collaborate on expanding and improving articles that will in turn become go-to resources for everyone from casual readers to members of Congress. ...

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Democrats and Republicans in The House of Representatives are currently flying through one-minute speeches on the Iraq war (a debate that makes for some pretty exciting C-Span watching). When all the speeches are over -- after four hours according to a rule agreed upon earlier by the House -- the House will vote on a bill to require the withdrawal of U.S.troops from Iraq. Here's what the bill specifically requires: >(a) Requirement- The Secretary of Defense shall commence the reduction of ...

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Congress Links

July 12, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Are Congressional Subpoenas Optional? The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law planned to hold a hearing today on the scandal involving the politicization of the firing of U.S. attorneys. Their subpoenaed witness, former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, didn't show up. With her chair empty, the hearing turned internal and committee asked themselves, "Are Congressional subpoenas to be honored or are they optional?" TPMmuckracker has the details of their discuss...

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Another Filibuster En Route to the Record

July 11, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of an amendment from Jim Webb (D-VA) that would slow down the President's surge plan by requiring that U.S. troops be given more time at home between deployments. The final vote was 56 in favor and 41 against, but because of Senate rules, the amendment was not approved. What gives? The Senate has a rule that allows the minority party to impose a 60-vote hurdle on passing legislation. It wasn't designed that way -- the framers of the ...

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Everyone is talking about healthcare these days. Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee, as a microcosm, is actually playing out the debate. The State Children's Health Insurance Program is up for it's first ever reauthorization and negotiations over its future have been slow and strained. Committee negotiators hoped to have a reauthorization bill out of the committee in June, but they discovered that there were more differences among the members than they realized and they brought formal...

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In January, when the Democrats took over Congress, they announced that they would quickly take care of the previous Congress's failure to pass 9 of 11 government funding bills, and that they would do it without including a single earmark. Well, The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) and the L.A.Times have been doing some digging and it looks like their anti-earmark claims were overzealous at best and deceptive at worst. Apparently, without their earmarks dropped from the budget, lawmakers...

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Congress Comes Back With the Upper Hand

July 9, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Defense Authorization Battle Begins With White House Weakened It's been almost two months since the Senate last held votes on the Iraq war. Since then, pressure from the public to change U.S. policy in Iraq has steadily increased and Senate GOP defections have become a trend, but has the debate reached the tipping point yet? This week, the Senate will once again vote on a series of proposals to alter the U.S.'s policies in Iraq. But for any of the proposals to take effect, either th...

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Congress Links - Weekend Edition

July 6, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Which GOP senator is Next? "After the recent defection of prominent Republicans on the Iraq war, the big question in Washington is who might be next. More than a dozen Republican senators who are running for re-election next year head the list of lawmakers to watch. But others, too, have expressed concerns that the GOP has grown increasingly vulnerable on the issue. As the clock ticks toward Election Day, voter pressure is building against any lawmaker still standing with President Bush on th...

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Majority of Americans for Impeachment

July 6, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

H.Res.333, Dennis Kucinich's [pictured at right] bill to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney, has been extremely popular on OpenCongress. It became the most-viewed bill in April and has held that position ever since with 10,332 all-time views currently. Now, new polling results are confirming that it's popular with the general public as well. The question was: >Do you favor or oppose the US House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick Cheney? Fi...

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Health care reform is abuzz, in presidential politics, in the movies, and, most immediately, in Congress. It's perfect timing. The initial 10-year authorization of one of the government's biggest health care initiatives, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, is scheduled to run out on September 30th, and Congress has been working behind the scenes to reauthorize it. SCHIP is designed to provide health care for children whose families make too much money to receive Medi...

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Prepping for Defense Authorization

July 5, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Opponents of the Iraq war have been looking forward to the 2008 Defense Authorization bill since late May, when they failed to attach any meaningful provisions to end the war to the supplemental funding bill. When the Senate reconvenes on Monday, they will finally have at it. Congress Quarterly points out why lawmaker's who oppose the war are hopeful that they can do more with this bill: >In unveiling their new Iraq agenda, Democrats showed they are ready to renew the battle. By using the de...

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Specter Seeks to Restore Checks and Balances

July 3, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

As has been made abundantly clear in the first six months of the 110th Congress, the President holds an incredible power in his ability to block bills passed by Congress from becoming laws. The presidential veto is a tried-and-true part of the system of checks and balances. For the sake of fairness and democracy, Congress is given a chance to override a presidential veto if they have support from 2/3rds of their members. But President Bush has found a way to operate above this system of checks...

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Congress Links

July 2, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

First, a quick note: Congress will not be in session this week -- they're on Independence Day recess until July 9th. One step Back to Habeas Corpus Before leaving for recess, the Senate Judiciary Committee issued a favorable report on S.185, the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007. Having successfully gone through the committee process, the bill is ready to be considered by the full Senate at any time. Check out the committee's report for a summary of the bill, a cost estimate, and 33 ...

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According to a Senate aide who spoke with The New York Times, it's a proposed tax increase for private equity and hedge fund managers. Actually, there are three separate, recently-introduced proposals in Congress to increase taxes for the managers of these investment funds. The tax-writing committees of Congress -- the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee -- seem serious about moving forward with the tax increases. They've already scheduled hearings on the proposals ...

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