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Lat week, I mentioned a bill introduced by Frank Lautenberg (D, NJ) that would close a loophole that currently allows suspected terrorists to legally purchase guns. Today, the AP is reporting that the NRA has officially come out against the bill: >The National Rifle Association is urging the Bush administration to withdraw its support of a bill that would prohibit suspected terrorists from buying firearms. Backed by the Justice Department, the measure would give the attorney general the discr...

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With their work on the 2008 budget so far, Democrats have backed themselves into a corner. Now the responsibility of straightening things out is being passed on to the budget conference committee, which, news sources are reporting, is just about ready to be assembled. In mid March, when the Senate was voting on the fiscal year 2008 budget resolution which sets the spending cap for the overall budget and outlines other budgeting priorities, Democrats nearly unanimously joined Republicans in ap...

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Reid Moves Immigration Talks Back to the Left

May 3, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, NV) is committed to bringing immigration reform legislation to the Senate floor during the week of May 14. The only problem is that no such bill has been introduced in the Senate and recent attempts to work one out have been unfruitful. But Reid has a plan: >Senate Democratic leaders, increasingly unhappy with an immigration overhaul taking shape in bipartisan talks with the White House, are considering moving their own, more permissive bill. > >The mo...

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House Moves Hate Crimes Bill Closer to a Veto

May 3, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The bill to expand the definition of hate crimes to include crimes committed against a person based on their sexual orientation or gender, H.R.1592, was just approved by the House. This bill has faced an uphill battle from the day it was introduced by John Conyers (D, MI) (pictured at right), and its victory today in the House only belies the simultaneous cementing of its defeat. The President this morning stated that he will veto the bill if it is approved by Congress: >The White House, i...

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Post-Veto Landscape Begins to Take Shape

May 2, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

With the Iraq bill officially vetoed, Congress and the President are back at the negotiating table, both trying to get the most they can out of the follow-up bill that the Democratic leadership is currently trying to write. Ahead of a meeting with congressional leaders this afternoon, President Bush said that he expects Democrats to act in "good will" by giving him exactly what he wants. >"I am confident that with good will on both sides that we can move beyond political statements and agree...

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Bush Vetoes Iraq War Spending Bill

May 1, 2007 - by David Moore

The WaPo reports: President Bush vetoed a $124 billion measure yesterday that would have funded overseas military operations but required him to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq as early as July. (Pictured at right: the well-recognized banner backdrop of President Bush's May 1, 2003 appearance on the USS Lincoln.) Slate is running an excellent "Explainer" titled "What happens when a war spending bill gets vetoed", written by Michelle Tsai with input from Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Com...

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Bluey Calls For Capitol Access For Bloggers

May 1, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The Open House Project, a temporary working group of bloggers, government watchdog groups, and media activists, has been working for months on a series of recommendations that they will present to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D, CA) in order to help her live up to her pledge of making the 110th Congress "the most honest, ethical and open Congress in history." The Hill is running a series of op-eds in anticipation of the Open House Project releasing its report. The first in the series was written by Ro...

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It's May Day: a huge day for the labor movement and immigrants' rights, and the first day of the month that comprehensive immigration reform legislation is expected to see floor time in Congress. Immigration is a major issue for the users of OpenCongress. Since the site launched, "immigration" has continually been, by far, the most commonly searched-for term. This tendency is of course indicative of the big picture. Americans everywhere have immigration issues on their minds. For the past ...

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The first order of business as the Senate returns this week will be the reauthorization of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or PDUFA. Depending on how things go down on the Senate floor, the bill could contain a provision targeting pesky advertisements, like the one pictured on the right, that mislead consumers about the safety and benefits of drugs. PDUFA was originally authorized by Congress in 1992 and it has been reauthorized every five years. The main purpose of the bill is to allo...

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With Iraq legislation out of Congress's hands for now (that's Iraq-bill crafters Murtha and Obey celebrating at right), we can start to look ahead to some other interesting and upcoming legislative battles in Congress. Here is a brief list of some bills that have recently been making progress in the long journey towards becoming law: On Thursday, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D, NJ) introduced a gun control bill that may be non-controversial enough to see some action despite the fact that the...

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Congress Hands Over Their Plan For Iraq

April 26, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

It's official: the bill that calls for U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq beginning in the fall has been passed from Congress and is now in the hands of President Bush. The Senate today joined the House of Representatives in passing the conference committee report on the bill that was agreed upon on Monday. In both chambers, Democrats passed the bill without a "no" vote to spare -- it got exactly the amount of "aye" voted needed for passage in both. The bill funds the wars in Iraq and A...

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"Culture of Corruption" Still Going Strong

April 25, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

It has been a tough month for Republicans when it comes to ethics. The Carpetbagger Report has this convenient rundown of currently ongoing ethics scandals involving Republican lawmakers: >-FBI agents raided Rep. John Doolittle’s (R-Calif.) (pictured at right) home, forcing him to step down from his seat on the House Appropriations Committee. > >-FBI agents also raided Rep. Rick Renzi’s (R-Ariz.) family business, forcing him to resign his committee assignments. > >-FBI officials have been...

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At 4PM on Wednesday, Congress will move one critical step closer towards initiating another fierce battle in the Culture War. That's when the House Judiciary Committee is planning to mark up H.R. 1592, a bill that would expand the definition of hate crimes to include crimes committed against a person based on their sexual orientation or gender. The bill would also allow the U.S. Attorney General to provide assistance to state and local officials in investigating and prosecuting hate crimes c...

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Earmarking Season Extended

April 23, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

It looks like senators will have a little extra time this year to enjoy their favorite, but least popular, pastime: submitting requests for their pet projects to be funded by the federal budget. The above email was circulated around Capitol Hill today to alert senators that the deadline, which was previously extended to April, 27, has been extended one again. Phew! h/t Rob Bluey...

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Reid Previews the Iraq-Bill Conference Report

April 23, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Congress has been working long and hard on a bill that funds the war in Iraq while putting more pressure on the Iraqi government to step up and setting a date for U.S. troops to be withdrawn. The bill has been passed in both the House and the Senate, and at 4:30 this afternoon negotiators from the two chambers will meet to hammer out some minor differences before sending it along to President Bush, who has repeatedly stated his intention to veto it. Much of the actual negotiating has been h...

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