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Party Like a Congressman

August 19, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Just in time for the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, the Sunlight Foundation has launched a new site - Party Time - that shows when and where all the political fundraising parties are happening.

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Twenty-nine House Democrats and Republicans Ron Paul (TX) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL) are backing a new bill to permit the use of Federal funds for syringe exchange programs. Federal funding (and local funding, in the case of Washington D.C.) of needle exchange programs has been prohibited by Congress since 1988. According to a document prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: >Syringe Exchange Programs (SEPs) have been shown to be an effective way to link some ha...

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Fewer Laws, More Fluff

August 18, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Wall Street Journal: >Barring a burst of legislative activity after Labor Day, this group of 535 men and women will have accomplished a rare feat. In two decades of record keeping, no sitting Congress has passed fewer public laws at this point in the session - 294 so far - than this one. That's not to say they've been idle. On the flip side, no Congress in the same 20 years has been so prolific when it comes to proposing resolutions -- more than 1,900, according to a tally by the nonpartisan T...

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McCain: Destroy the FEC

August 18, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

(This is part of a series on legislation being sponsored in the Senate by presidential candidates Barack Obama (D-IL) and John McCain (R-AZ). Subscribe to our rss feed to get the rest.)

John McCain is fed up with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). For seven years he battled an impervious, filibustering Senate to pass the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which was designed to close loopholes in the campaign finance laws overseen by the FEC. He eventually got his bill passed, banning soft money from being contributed to candidates and political parties. But when the FEC went to implement it, it drilled fresh loopholes into McCain's bill, creating a whole new class of political organizations - 527s - to skirt the law and continue funneling unlimited amounts of money to politicians.

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A 60-Dem Senate

August 18, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Following up on last week's calculations that a filibuster-proof Democratic majority in the Senate next session is basically impossible, the AP boldly claims that the Democrats have a "realistic shot."...

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Cutting Recess Short

August 18, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The other day on DemocracyNow, Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) said he's bringing his committee back early from August recess in order to investigate new allegations that the Bush administration created and forged false documents to strengthen his case for the Iraq war.

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Obama's Plan to Reduce Global Poverty

August 14, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

(This is part of a series on legislation being sponsored in the Senate by presidential candidates Barack Obama (D-IL) and John McCain (R-AZ). Subscribe to our rss feed to get the rest.)

Barack Obama's Global Poverty Act is the most commonly criticized piece of legislation that either of the presidential candidates have introduced in the Senate. It has the distinguished position on OpenCongress of being the most opposed bill of all time, and almost all of the 110 comments left by users are extremely negative.

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Unfilibusterable?

August 13, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The Fix's Chris Cillizza takes a hard look at all the Senate races for November and conclude that Democrats could come very close to a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate next session, but that actually reaching 60 is next to impossible. ...

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Defending the 'Gang of 10'

August 13, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The "Gang of 10" seems to be running a new PR campaign to defend their energy bill. As I mentioned last week, their bill, the New Energy Reform Act of 2008, is taking a beating form conservatives claiming that it's not a bipartisan compromise, but a capitulation to Democrats. Senator Bob Corker (TN), one of the Gang's Republican members, called up blogger Glenn Reynolds this afternoon to personally defend the bill. And Senators Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) shot back at...

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McCain: No New Cell Phone Taxes

August 13, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

(This is part of a series on legislation being sponsored in the Senate by presidential candidates Barack Obama (D-IL) and John McCain (R-AZ). Subscribe to our rss feed to get the rest.)

John McCain (R-AZ) has been fighting in Congress to eliminate excessive taxes and fees on cell phone users. In the previous session of Congress, he managed to amend a communications bill during committee mark-up to include a temporary ban on new taxes, but the bill never made it to a vote by the full Senate or House. On January 4,2007, the first day of the current session of Congress, McCain teamed up with six Republicans and one Democrat to introduce his ban as a stand-alone bill - the Cell Phone Tax Moratorium Act of 2007.

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Obama's Bill to Expose Big Political Fundraisers

August 11, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

(This post is the first in a series on legislation being sponsored in the Senate by presidential candidates Barack Obama (D-IL) and John McCain (R-AZ). Subscribe to our rss feed to get the rest.)

Bundlers are the ultimate campaign-finance loophole exploiters. By rounding up checks from their friends and colleagues, they skirt the legal individual contribution limit of $2,300 and give political candidates huge sums of bundled money, sometimes upwards of $2 million, and often secretly. Barack Obama's bill, S.2030, would remove some of the secrecy from the world of bundling.

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...And members of Congress are actually buying into it. In this letter, acquired by OpenCongress user "steve hunt okc," from Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) to Clear Channel Vice President/Market Manager Bill Hurley, Inhofe calls Clear Channel a "local broadcaster:" Of course, there's nothing "local" about Clear Channel. They are the country's largest radio conglomerate, owning over 1,200 stations. They probably own all the big stations in your area; you can check here. The bill refer...

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An Energy "Compromise"

August 8, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Kimberley Strassel says the Gang-of-10 Republicans are selling out the GOP on energy: >And so, last Friday, in stumbled Sens. Lindsey Graham, John Thune, Saxby Chambliss, Bob Corker and Johnny Isakson -- alongside five Senate Democrats. This "Gang of 10" announced a "sweeping" and "bipartisan" energy plan to break Washington's energy "stalemate." What they did was throw every vulnerable Democrat, and Mr. Obama, a life preserver. > >That's because the plan is a Democratic giveaway. New produ...

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Waiting for Obama

August 8, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

In The New York Times this morning Carl Hulse has a piece on what's happening (or, rather, what's not happening) with the appropriations process in Congress this year. Democrats are hedging their spending priorities on having Barack Obama (D-IL) in the White House and a stronger majority in Congress next year: Here's a recently-published report describing how the federal government might be affected in the meantime: >As the FY 2009 appropriations process grinds to a halt, a new OMB Watc...

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From: Congress, To: Philip Morris et al.

August 7, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

In late July the House passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which for the first time would put tobacco products under regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. But the bill also throws the cigarette companies a serious bone:

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