With a deal in place on funding the government for the rest of the fiscal year, the House and Senate now have to go through the motions of actually putting the appropriations legislation into effect. As of Monday morning, the House Appropriations Committee is still drafting the legislative language of the deal, and they're not expected to unveil an actual bill until late Monday night. As you'll see below, the bill is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday, which suggests that once again the House leadership is going to exploit the weak language of their "read the bill" rule and make the bill available for public review for far less than 72 hours, the minimum standard of public availability before votes they themselves promoted on the campaign trail. Of course, we'll be doing everything we can to get the bill text online for commenting and sharing as soon as it's released. With all of the controversial policy riders that have been involved in the closed-door negotiations with the bill, folks with interests in just about any major political issue are going to have something to look for in the text.Read Full Article Comments (3)
After meeting late Wednesday night with House Speaker John Boehner [R, OH-8], Senate Majority LeaderHarry Reid [D, NV] took to the floor this morning and said that agreeing on a topline budget number isn't the thing blocking a deal on preventing a government shutdown Friday night, it's social policy. “Our differences are no longer over the savings we get on government spending, Reid said. “The only thing holding up an agreement is ideology.”Read Full Article Comments (49)
No matter where you stand on the government spending issue, you've got to be impressed by the Republicans' tenacity in the negotiations. They only control one chamber of Congress, but they've already secured the support of Senate Democrats and the Obama White House for $33 billion in cuts, which is more than the amount their leader, Rep. John Boehner [R, OH-8], had originally proposed. Now, with support for that level secured and a few days remaining before a shutdown, they've moved their target further, demanding something more like $40 billion in cuts or no deal. As National Journal reports, the Democrats are now close to accepting the new target:Read Full Article Comments (14)
The House Republicans' latest stopgap is now online at OpenCongress for you to read, mark up, and create custom, section-specific links to so you can have a more detailed discussions of it online:
H.R.1363 - Making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011, and for other purposes.
The full legislative text is here. Mouse over any chunk of text to add an in-line comment or create a custom permalink to that section that you can use to point others to it. If this bill gets a vote, it will happen sometime before the end of the day Thursday. With the massive amount of program cuts in this bill it's important that the public works together now to review it and find out what it would do before it's rushed to a vote. If you find something that you think might be worth noting, leave a comment to mark it and it will be filtered up to the list of most-commented-on provisions for others to find and review. We'll be highlighting the most noted provisions on this blog as well.Read Full Article Comments (8)
Read Full Article Comments (2)
In an exchange during their meeting last Wednesday with the President, CBC Chair Emanuel Cleaver called the cost of the 99ers bill (H.R. 589 sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee of California) “prohibitive.”
In Rep. Cleaver’s words: “It was what I expected because my staff had done a lot of research on it. And we found that the cost of that program would be between $14 and 20 billion dollars which is cost prohibitive.
With just four days of government spending authority left, House Republicans are working hard on prepping for a shutdown. It's not clear how hard they're working on preventing one.
Yesterday, the Republican leadership distributed pamphlets "outlining the procedures congressional offices should take during a government shutdown." And late last night they introduced another stopgap, this one designed for political, not legislative, success. The stopgap would last for one week and cut a whopping $12 billion from discretionary spending over that period. In order to protect it from cuts, the Defense budget would be extended for the full fiscal year and increased by $7.6 billion over last year's level.Read Full Article Comments (7)
Roll Call has a good piece today on the "glacial" pace of the 112th Congress so far and the fact that it's going to get even slower from here on out. The problem, of course, is that neither the Republicans who control the House or the Democrats who control the Senate are working with an eye towards the other chamber. Particularly in the House, the legislative docket is being used more as a political platform than a means to make laws and solve the problems facing the nation.
"Where are the jobs?" is, of course, the relevant question here. So far this year we've seen votes on divisive program cuts, stopgap bills to patch the budget, extending the government's spying powers, and somecheap fluff, but there's been no honest work on legislation addressing the jobs crisis that could pass both chambers and actually help people. Below is a list of the bills that have been signed into law so far this year. We're facing a deeper and longer lasting jobs crisis than anything we've seen since the Great Depression, but you wouldn't know it looking at the output of the federal legislature:Read Full Article Comments (4)
We're now just five days out until the federal government's spending authority runs out and, if Congress does not pass a new bill, shuts down. Last week, Joe Biden said that congressional Democrats and Republicans have agreed on a topline number for keeping the government funded -- $33 billion below 2010 levels -- but House Speaker John Boehner [R, OH-8] has denied that any such deal has been struck. Beyond the numbers, policy riders remain a huge barrier to a deal. Conservatives are pushing hard for the final spending bill to include amendments defunding Planned Parenthood, the new health care reform law, NPR, and more. Democrats have said that those those amendments would be deal breakers.Read Full Article Submit a Comment
Just a quick note to let you all know that we'll be having some intermittent downtime this weekend while we do some site maintenance. Everything should be back to normal by late Sunday night as we get ready for another week of Congress in session. Have a great weekend!...Read Full Article Submit a Comment
Every couple weeks, we go through all of the recent comments posted to OpenCongress and pick out a handful of particularly popular, insightful and timely ones to bump up to the OpenCongress Blog. OpenCongress users leave hundreds -- sometimes thousands -- of comments each week, creating a treasure trove of political thought from around the country and across the ideological spectrum that reflects the moods and topics of the day. The idea of these posts is to highlight comments that have been voted up by users and provide valuable insights to legislation and politics at large. Get involved by commenting on bills, articles, senators and representatives, and rate other users' comments, to influence what gets highlighted here.Read Full Article Comments (6)
With no budget agreement in place and a government shutdown looming, House Republicans are bringing the Government Shutdown Prevention Act of 2011 up for a vote this afternoon. The bill seeks to prevent a shutdown by automatically deeming the House's budget bill to be the law of the land if the Senate fails to pass their own budget. So, shutdown prevented? Not quite.Read Full Article Comments (4)
If the government shuts down and Congress is still getting paid, it will be the House Republicans' faultMarch 30, 2011 - by Donny Shaw
A reader writes in with a good question. On March 1 Republicans and Democrats in the Senate pulled together to pass a bill that would amend current law so that members of Congress do not receive pay during government shutdowns; why isn't the House acting on this bill so that if a government shutdown does occur Congress will take a pay cut like other federal employees? The answer, of course, is that it has gotten tied up in a ploy to score political points.Read Full Article Comments (31)
In the midst of the conflict in Libya, the disaster in Japan, and the economic crisis at home that's still very much hitting the poor and middle class, a government shutdown could have dour consequences for the U.S. economy. Consumer confidence is already starting to dip and a shutdown could be just the thing to throw consumers and financial markets into a panic that could push us back into another recession. Yet, with just a handful of legislative days left for Congress to pass a budget and prevent a shutdown, Senate Democrats and the House GOP seem to be moving further apart from a deal. Instead of negotiating, they're preparing for the politics of the shutdown, each trying to pin the pain it would cause on the other party.Read Full Article Comments (2)
The House is just coming back into session from their week off, and in addition to continuing their battle with Senate Democrats on funding the government beyond next week, they'll be voting on terminating another foreclosure program, making it harder for aviation workers to form unions, and more. Take a look at the complete schedule below, click on the bill numbers to learn more about them, then get involved by commenting, sharing and contacting your members of Congress.Read Full Article Comments (1)
As Congress comes back into session this afternoon to find a way to keep the government up and running, one of the cuts on the table will be the $34-million e-government fund, which finances the federal cloud computing initiative, data.gov, and usaspending.gov, among other things. If Congress cares about making federal spending more transparent while creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs and making the federal agencies more efficient, they'll restore funding for e-government and ensure that these programs stay alive.
We're happy to have added the Participatory Politics Foundation to an open letter from the Sunlight Foundation calling on House Republicans put the e-government funding back into the continuing resolution for the rest of the fiscal year. More than anything else the government spends money on, the e-government fund has the potential to improve society in profound and unpredictable ways. And it's relatively cheap -- like I said last week, a full year of e-gov costs just one-third of one day of missile attacks in Libya. If you care about keeping the e-gov fund alive, add your name/organization in the comments here and ask your members of Congress to restore full funding for the e-government fund in the FY 2011 continuing resolution and to make the fund a priority in future budgets.Read Full Article Comments (2)