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Have you been following the news about the recent votes in the House and the Senate on the Iraq War, but aren't sure of the full details or implications? Or do you want to find out how your Representative or Senators voted? Even if you don't know the name of the bill in question, OpenCongress makes it easier to find. Just check out the bill on OpenCongress that's most written-about in the news and the bill most written-about on blogs -- they're both in the "sort-by" drop-down box on the "Bills" p...

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Budget Rightgeousness and the Left's Resolution

March 29, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The House of Representatives is slated to vote today on a budget resolution that Republicans claim constitutes "the largest tax increase in U.S. history." Budget resolutions are not what one might assume they are. This resolution is not the one used to dish out funds to programs and agencies for the next fiscal year. It is a resolution that takes a macro-perspective of the budget, establishing spending levels for entitlement programs, like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, as well as ...

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Great Uses of OpenCongress From Around the Web

March 28, 2007 - by David Moore

About one month ago, OpenCongress opened its doors publicly, and since then we've been enthusiastically watching as bloggers and groups have picked up the site and started running with it. Here are some links to great uses of OpenCongress by political bloggers, membership groups, and people looking for an easy way to keep in touch with Congress. First, in the days after our launch last month we had a good rush of early mentions in news and blog outlets. We especially followed the comments and...

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GOP Victory Protects Security Informants

March 28, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007 passed the House yesterday, but not before a provision, staunchly opposed by the bill's sponsor and Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Bennie Thompson (D-MS), was attached to it. The provision is based on a bill introduced last week by Steve Pearce (R-NM). It protects citizens who report suspicious activity from lawsuits. The bill was introduced, largely, in response to an incident that took place earlier this year. Re...

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has decided to forgo the routine cloture battle that has repeatedly led to Republican victories against Democrat-sponsored Iraq legislation. The legislation currently at hand is nearly identical to a bill that Republicans defeated by cloture on March 15. It sets a series of benchmarks for the Iraqi government and a non-binding timetable for a U.S. troop withdrawal. This time however, these Iraq provisions are attached to an emergency war funding bi...

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Senate Struggles to Do What Makes Sense

March 26, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

via In Broad Daylight: The Senate Rules and Administration Committee is planning to mark-up a bill on Wednesday to require senators to file their campaign-finance reports electronically. Consider the way the reports are filed currently: >Instead of quickly downloading their campaign financing data directly to the Federal Election Commission, like everybody else [the House of Representatives and Presidential candidates], senators print out their records on paper and snail-mail them to the S...

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Earmark Disclosure in (Temporary?) Recession

March 26, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

All of the recent scrambling to define exactly what an earmark is may be leading to less transparency in their disclosure. The Wall Street Journal is reporting on an accusation by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) (pictured at right, foreground) that the Appropriations Committees, and presumably their Democratic Chairman, are twisting the arm of the Congressional Research Service in order to help them cover up wasteful spending: >Nothing highlighted Congress's spending problem in last year's election...

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In case you missed it, the war supplemental passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 218-212 today. The bill provides $124.1 billion, mostly for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while setting benchmarks for the Iraqi government and a timeline for a U.S. troop withdrawal. Only two Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for the bill. When the House voted in mid-February on a non-binding resolution disapproving of President Bush's surge plan, 17 Republicans voted for it. Having cast...

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Budget Vote-a-Rama in Full Swing

March 23, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Don't bother watching the Senate session on C-SPAN 2 today. Senators have begun wading through a seemingly endless stream of amendments in what is referred to as, "vote-a-rama." All day, the Senate will be casting roll call votes on amendments to the fiscal year 2008 Budget Resolution, one after another, without any debate. So, to avoid all the milling about and name calling on the Senate floor today, you may as well keep track of the results as they roll in and are posted online. The budge...

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Iraq Debate Moves Blindly Forward

March 22, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Weeks of speculation about Democratic unity will be answered by the end of the day tomorrow. The House of Representatives is embarking on a debate, and eventually a vote, on the war supplemental, which funds the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while setting a March 2008 date for troop withdrawal to begin and a date of September 2008 for the withdrawal to be completed. When the House, in mid-February, passed non-binding legislation that simply expressed disapproval of President Bush's plan to dep...

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Are Democrats Being "Sidetracked" by Iraq?

March 21, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The Washington Times is writing that Congressional Democrats are "0 for 6" because their agenda has been "sidetracked" by the Iraq war. Whether it is proper for the Iraq war to take center stage in Congress is a matter of opinion -- a new poll suggests that Congress' job approval rating is down because of their failure to do anything substantive about the war. Regardless, the article gives a convenient rundown of where some of the other major issues of the Democratic platform stand at this poin...

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A new poll, indicating that the Democratic Congress' job approval is slipping, may be responsible for Democratic party Progressives and House Democratic Leaders changing their tunes. >In a March 11-14, 2007, national poll -- 28% of Americans approve of the job being done by Congress and 64% disapprove. This marks a substantial change from January and February, with approval down nine points and disapproval up nine points. The report goes on to suggest that Iraq is the likely reason: >I...

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Whether or not you like the bill, you have to be impressed by how precisely the Democratic leadership has crafted the war supplemental to get the maximum support of House Democrats. Right now, it is looking like the vote on the bill, which is scheduled for Thursday, may be decided by a margin of only a couple of votes. The bill's support swells, from its base with the Democratic centrists, outwards in both directions, collecting some votes from both the left and right of the Democratic pol...

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Feinstein Offers a Remedy For the Purge

March 19, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The past couple weeks of investigation into the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, for what appear to be political reasons, are boiling down to concrete legislative action in the Senate. Debate will begin today on S.214, a bill introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (pictured at right, questioning the fired attorneys), titled the Preserving United States Attorney Independence Act of 2007. Yesterday on Meet the Press, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) stated what he sees as the problem with...

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Lawmakers Fear New Ethics Rule

March 16, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Today is the deadline, as set forth by David Obey (D-WI) for members of the House to submit their earmark requests to the Appropriations Committee. However, some lawmakers suddenly have cold feet. They are stumped by a new rule which requires that they sign off on their requests, certifying that neither they nor their spouse has a "financial interest" in it. The new rule was passed in the first 100 hours of legislative business as part of the House ethics package. But, according to Minori...

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