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The Chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Commitees, Robert Byrd and David Obey, worked late last night tweaking funding levels in a year-long continuing resolution (CR) that they hope to present to the House on Wednesday. The previous Republican-led 109th Congress put the responsibility of funding most of the government in the hands of the current Congress when they failed to pass nine of eleven federal spending bills last year. Instead of functioning with normally appropriated funds...

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The Senate Finance Committee today approved tax breaks for small businesses that will be attached to the House-passed minimum wage bill. The tax breaks are going to be included in the bill to get the 60 votes that the Senate will need to approve the bill and put it into effect. Opponents of the $2.10 minimum wage increase worry about the affect it will have on small business owners. The tax breaks that were passed today will help small business owners cover their losses. Many Senate Dem...

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The House is planning to pass legislation that will eliminate tax incentives for big U.S. oil companies tomorrow, as their last action in the 100 Hour Plan. For more background on the bill, you can look at this post I wrote on Jan.7 Now, as this article from the Tax Foundation's blog points out, ExxonMobil has reported paying record high taxes in the third quarter of 2006; roughly two and a half times what they made in net profits. The numbers ExxonMobil are reporting make the acc...

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Last week, John Kerry (D-MA) introduced, and saw the passage of, an amendment to the senate ethics bill that would eliminate retirement pensions for congresspeople convicted of certain crimes. The crimes covered in the amendment included "bribery, conspiracy, and perjury to cover them up." In the House of Representatives, two bills proposing similar restrictions on retirement benefits for convicted lawmakers, one championed by Republicans, and one by Democrats, are competing for passage. ...

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The Senate just voted to pass some important amendments to its ethics bill, S.1. Last week, Democratic Senators Harry Reid and Dick Durbin attempted to table an amendment that was offered by Jim DeMint to strengthen earmark reform in the bill. Earmarks are little provisions imbedded into bills that designate money for legislators' pet projects. The bill as it was written by Senate Majority Leader Reid would have only required about 5% of earmarks to be disclosed. But DeMint and the majorit...

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Rangel Introduced a Bill to Reinstate the Draft

January 16, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has been fighting for the draft to be reinstated for years now. On Thursday he introduced legislation to reinstate the draft and issued this press release explaining his views. I have reintroduced my bill to reinstate the draft, not because I support the war in Iraq or the President's plan to escalate the conflict. The reason is my belief that if Americans are to be placed in harm's way, all of us, from every income group and position in society, must share the burden...

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Seantor Robert Bennett (R-UT) offered an amendment to the Senate ethics bill S.1 last Thursday, to strike the grassroots lobbying provisions laid out in Section 220 of the bill. And now, churches and related organizations are campaigning for support of the amendment. The bill as it stands, would require any action that aimed to get 500 or more people to contact their elected officials about an issue, to report quarterly on how much time and money was invested. It is common practice for chu...

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From Roll Call: Just days after the House passed tough lobbying and ethics reform legislation, House Republicans and Democrats are preparing to leave town for annual party retreats whose funding sources have come under increased scrutiny in recent years. The article goes on to explain how both parties are calling the other out for possible ethics violations in regards to their annual retreats. Democrats are pointing out the strong lobbyist presence at the Republican retreats, and Repub...

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The official 100 Hour Plan clock will be ticking away when the house of Representatives begins their legislative business at 2:00 p.m. But they won't be dealing with any of the remaining bills that they have promised to pass in the 100 Hours until tomorrow. Today will be filled up with minor business. I guess they are feeling confident about finishing the promised 100 Hour Plan bills in time. They have 76 hours left, and only two more bills to pass. Today's business includes: H.Res. 61,...

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Why Not Raise the Minumum Wage in American Samoa?

January 13, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

I found some more information that reveals a new interpretation of the Frank-McHenry video I linked to below. The video was shot on Thursday while the House was debating the stem cell research bill. McHenry, in bringing up the amendment to exempt American Samoa "just as it was for the minimum-wage bill," was trying to draw attention to the exemption in the already-passed minimum wage bill. The whole incident got news and blog coverage for its comic portrayal of the legislative process, and i...

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I have been talking a lot about what is going on in the House of Representatives this week, and not much about the Senate. Bills are flying through the House, thanks to all the excitement associated with the 100 Hour Plan, but in the Senate they are still working on their first bill, S.1. It's not that they aren't working hard. They are. Instead of passing bills through on sheer strength of support, the Senate is dissecting and perfecting in order to come out with the best possible bill. T...

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Many Firsts in the 110th Congress

January 12, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Obviously the 110th Congress is a big departure from the 109th in many ways. But here are some of the distinguishing features of the 110th that you may not know about: Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is the first woman to be elected to Speaker of the House. Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate Majority Leader, is the highest ranked Mormon ever in Congress. Robert Byrd (D-WV) has been in Congress for longer than anyone else, ever. The 110th is possibly the oldest in history, with the average age of Senators ...

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H.R.3, a bill to provide federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, the House's 3rd out of 6 bills in the 100 Hour Plan, passed today with a vote of 253-174. Like the other bills that the House has voted on so far in the 100 hours, there was never any doubt that it would pass. All 3 bills have passed by a comfortable margin with plenty of Republicans crossing party line and casting "aye" votes. H.R. 1 and H.R. 2 had 299 and 315 "aye" votes respectively. Today's bill, H.R. 3, however ...

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The House of Representatives is in session right now, debating H.R.3, a bill "to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for human embryonic stem cell research." This is the third of six issues that the Democrats pledged to pass in their first 100 legislative hours, and on the official clock of the 100 Hour Plan, they have more than 86 hours left. As I have already blogged about, the bill is most likely going to be vetoed by the President. In fact, the White House issued a statement t...

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"Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable version of Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis." "We believe that transparency in government activities leads to reduced corruption, better government and stronger democracies. Many governments would benefit from increased scrutiny by the world community, as well as their own people. We believe this scrutiny requires information. Historically that information has been costly - in terms of human life and human rights. Wikile...

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