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A New Push for Impeachment

December 27, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Robert Wexler (D-FL) is taking over as Congress's leading voice for moving forward with impeaching Vice President Dick Cheney. Wexler and fellow House Judiciary Committee Democrats Luis Gutierrez (IL) and Tammy Baldwin (WI) have been trying for weeks to publish an op-ed calling for impeachment hearings to commence in their committee, but after being rejected by all the big newspapers, Wexler decided to take the impeachment movement into his own hands.

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Congress's Year in Technology

December 27, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

"As usual, Congress did a lot of spouting off about how to manage perceived Internet perils. Hot topics this time around included foreign cybersecurity threats to U.S. government systems, terrorist cells flourishing on the Web, inadvertent file sharing through peer-to-peer networks, and sexual predators ensnaring unsuspecting youth through online social sites. And for a third time, the House passed not just one, but two, different bills aimed at deterring spyware."

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Congress Passes its First Gun Bill

December 21, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Just before adjourning for the holidays Congress finalized the passage of the first bill relating to one of the most politically-charged issues of the day: gun control. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) first introduced the NICS Improvement Amendments Act in 2002 and its passage in the 110th Congress stems in large part from the shootings at Virginia Tech in April. The bill seeks to strengthen the background check system designed to keep those who are mentally unfit from acquiring firearms while also putting in place a system of appeals for individuals to try to get the prohibition against them dropped.

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Talking Bankruptcy Law With Brad and Linda

December 20, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Over the past couple of days Reps. Brad Miller (D-NC) and Linda Sanchez (D-CA) have been holding online discussions about their bill that would allow bankruptcy courts to modify home mortgages. The blogs DailyKos, TPMCafe and OpenLeft hosted the discussions, and, because they bring together many different views, concerns and insights, the threads that remain on those sites are invaluable resources for learning about the bill. As Paul Blumenthal of the Sunlight Foundation said about the forums, "the kind of watered down, sound-bite media a press release may create is incomparable to direct substantive communication with people." Its true -- and we are psyched that some members of Congress are moving in that direction.

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Filibustering FISA

December 16, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Chris Dodd (D-CT) will be taking to the Senate floor this morning to do all he can to block the FISA-fix bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has scheduled for a vote. The bill contains a provision that would give retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies that are alleged to have helped the government eavesdrop on phone call involving U.S. citizens even though they knew that there was no warrant, an idea that Dodd has promised to filibuster since mid-October.

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The House Hearts Christmas

December 14, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

You may have heard that it is crunch time in Congress; the Senate and House have been racing to wrap up their work for the year by finishing, among other things, a $286 billion Farm Bill, the first increase in fuel efficiency standards in over three decades, a $933 billion bill to keep the government from shutting down and a plan for funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But what you may not have heard is that in the midst of it all the House found time to hold a vote on a bill that does nothing but create a whole lot of controversy. On Tuesday the House, by a vote of 372-9, passed a resolution "recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith."

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Congress's New Weapon in the War on Piracy

December 13, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

A controversial bill to drastically increase the penalties for violating U.S. intellectual property laws appears to be on the fast track to being made a law. The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2007 (aka the PRO IP Act) was introduced only one week ago, and today a hearing was held on the bill in the Intellectual Property subcommittee -- expect to see it marked up by the Judiciary Committee and on the House floor soon.

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See Who Congressmen Are Meeting With

December 12, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Heading into last year's elections, the Sunlight Foundation began a campaign to get incumbents and congressional challengers of all parties to pledge to post their daily schedules on the Internet if they are elected. It's called the Punch Clock Campaign, the idea being that members of Congress should be held accountable for their time on the job just like everyone else.

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Share Your Bills With Our New Facebook App

December 11, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Now you can share the bills that matter to you in Congress with your friends on Facebook. Today we are launching our new Facebook app that lets you post bills to you profile, announce your support or opposition and comment on why you care about them. And, of course, the bills you post will have links back to their OpenCongress pages, so your friends can get all the information they need in order to learn more and get involved with the issues themselves.

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The Principles of Open Government Data

December 9, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Over the weekend a couple of us here at OpenCongress met up with 28 other open government activists in Sebastopol, California to produce a set of principles for governments to follow in order to release their data in a way that is the most useful, valuable and open. The group came together around several shared beliefs: that a government's data belongs to its citizens, that information becomes more valuable as it is shared and that open data promotes a more robust democracy. From there we set out to develop our eight principles of open government data.

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The Energy Bill is Back in Full Form

December 5, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The text of the comprehensive energy bill that the House will be voting on this week has not been made public yet, but the latest reports indicate that the once-imperiled bill is suddenly back up to full strength, combining the strongest provisions of the both the original House and Senate versions. Last week it was announced that a compromise had been reached among Democratic leaders to allow the Senate's fuel efficiency increase requirement to come to a vote. Now it appears that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is planing on reattaching the House's recision of $14 billion in tax breaks and subsidies for oil companies and the mandate for utilities to produce 15 percent of their energy through renewable fuels.

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Know Your FISA Fixes

December 4, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

One of the major themes of the current session of Congress has been their attempt to modernize the government's wiretapping rules while protecting U.S. citizens' rights to privacy as guaranteed by the Constitution. The PROTECT Act that Congress approved in August was widely considered a bust -- it gave the administration too much power and too little oversight in their surveillance of communications involving people in the U.S. Now Congress is trying to fix the mistakes they made with the PROTECT Act, and there are two different proposals being considered to do so.

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Congress Set to Raise Fuel Efficiency Standards

December 2, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

With oil prices flirting with the $100 per barrel mark, the House of Representatives this week will take up a bill that could give consumers some relief at the pump, albeit gradually over the next 13 years. A compromise agreement on how to move forward with Congress's stalled energy bill was announced on Friday and, for the first time since 1975, it will raise the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard for automobile manufacturers.

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