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Total Shutdown

July 31, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The debate in Congress over oil drilling has already killed a lot of bills. If neither side gives in it could do a lot worse: total government shutdown....

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New Frontiers in Collaborative Legislation

July 31, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

In March I wrote about the Sunlight Foundation's pioneering work to develop a platform for writing legislation collaboratively. Through their PublicMarkup tool, they proposed a new government transparency bill and opened it up to section-by-section dissection from the public. They got a huge amount of feedback on their bill, and today they released a revised version that implements the best changes that were suggested by the public.

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Bartlett's Peak Oil Crusade

July 30, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The House and Senate are spending all their time these days squabbling over whether or not to open up more areas to oil drilling, but at least one member of Congress has been thinking way beyond the boundaries of the this debate for many years.

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Journalists Fall Victim to the Energy Debate

July 30, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The Associated Press: >A bill to protect journalists from having to reveal their sources in some federal courts has stalled in the Senate. > >Republicans blocked the measure, saying the Senate should instead act on an energy bill that would promote more domestic oil and gas production. > >On a 51-43 vote, the bill fell nine short of the 60 it would have needed to move forward. > >The legislation shields reporters from being forced by federal prosecutors to reveal their sources, except in...

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Just when you thought it was over

July 29, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The most toxic issue of the 110th Congress, immigration, threatens to rear its head once again. According to anti-immigration group NumbersUSA, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has placed a hold on a bill to reauthorize four immigration programs, including E-Verify, a Republican favorite, and won't release it unless language is added to recapture about half a million unused worker and family visas dating back to 1992.

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Which IP Bill on Capitol Hill

July 29, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

I had been planning to look into the differences between the intellectual property enforcement bill passed by the House last month (H.R.4279) and the one that was just introduced in the Senate (S.3325), but Public Knowledge has already done it. They conclude that the Senate bill is worse - here's one of their reasons why: >First, unlike H.R. 4279, S. 3325 would authorize the Attorney General to bring civil actions for criminal copyright infringement and recover actual and statutory damage...

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Indicted.

July 29, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The indictment accuses Sen. Stevens, former chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, of concealing payments of more than $250,000 in goods and services he allegedly received from an oil company. The items include home improvements, autos and household items.

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Dr. No Defeats the Senate

July 28, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) prevailed in blocking a massive package of generally non-controversial bills that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid brought to the floor, angering Democrats and some Republicans while raising Coburn's status as a cult hero to fiscal conservatives.

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Vote Set on an Official Apology for Slavery

July 28, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

On the House's calendar this week is a non-binding resolution "Apologizing for the enslavement and racial segregation of African-Americans." Among other things the bill acknowledges that "African-Americans continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow - long after both systems were formally abolished - through enormous damage and loss, both tangible and intangible, including the loss of human dignity and liberty, the frustration of careers and professional lives, and the long-...

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A Declaration FOR Independence

July 28, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Lawrence Lessig, the Stanford law professor and Creative Commons founder who has decided to spend the next ten years working to Change Congress, released a first draft of his basic argument. It explains why only 9% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing and offers a plan to rebuild the public's trust. Here's an excerpt: >The point is not that money is evil. Or that rich people should be silenced or forbidden to speak. The point instead is about the mechanisms by which trust gets ...

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Congress has officially cleaned its hands of the landmark Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and sent it to President Bush for his signature. The bill is about 694 pages long, but you don't need to read any of it to find out about the parts you'll probably hate the most. Here are my picks for the bill's ten most controversial and suspect provisions:

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From Energy Policy to... Pet Monkeys

July 25, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

At a time when Congress is dealing with an energy crisis and a meltdown of the U.S. economy, shouldn't Harry Reid (D-NV) try to keep bills like this off the legislative schedule? I mean, seriously, is now really a good time for the Captive Primate Safety Act? When the bill passed the House Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) took the cue and delivered the begged-for quote: >"Maybe we should actually spend more time with human primate energy issues, rather than the non-human primate non-issue.” I'm n...

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Executive Power and Its Constitutional Limits

July 25, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

That was the title of the pseudo impeachment hearing held today by the Judiciary Committee. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's got all the video highlights up on her blog. There was even a Republican Rep. speaking out against President Bush's abuses of power. Here's Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) on Bush's excessive use of presidential signing statements to modify the laws Congress passes: >President George W. Bush has issued at least 152 signing statements, 118 of these have contained over 800 Const...

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The anti-war movement has managed to slow down Congress's mad rush to approve a naval blockade of Iran. Just last week House staffers were saying that the controversial Iran resolution was set to pass any day "like a hot knife through butter." Now it appears that the brakes have been put on, but the bill is far from dead.

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Surprise: House Vote to Tap the SPR

July 24, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Geesh! How are we, as citizens, supposed to care about what's going on in Congress if we don't even get information on the bills that are being voting on? Suddenly on today's Daily Leader, we learn that the House, today, will be voting on something called the Consumer Energy Supply Act of 2008. Since the government hasn't put out any of the information the bill, I figured I'd pass along this info from Reuters. For now we have no choice but to take their word for it.

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