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Conyers' Cryptic Commitment

July 30, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

As Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers (D-MI) has the power to begin the process of impeaching President Bush or Vice President Cheney whenever he wants. And with the impeachment movement steadily gaining inetria, everybody has been watching him to see if he's going to act. He has spoken publicly about impeachment on several occasions lately, but deciphering the meaning of his words so far has proven to be a difficult task. Last week I wrote about a then-unconfirmed rumo...

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Reid and Pelosi Drop the Earmark Ball

July 30, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Having had their ethics bills repeatedly blocked by senate Republicans from moving forward to a proper conference committee, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) took the project into their own hands and have come up with an agreement on a bill that they hope to pass through Congress by the end of the week. Lawmakers and interested citizens are seeing what they have come up with for the first time this afternoon and everyone seems to agree that it's a mixed bag...

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The Cost of Healthy Kids

July 29, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

It's the last week before Congress goes on vacation for a month. But before they leave Washington, lawmakers in both chambers hope to pass a bill to reauthorize and expand a program that provides health care for poor children. The State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), and its expansion are popular among Democrats and many Republicans (not the President though; he plans on vetoing the reauthorization bill), but when it comes to finding a way to pay for it, almost no one can agree....

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Immigration Reform's Specter

July 26, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Republican Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) is getting ready to send some bad news to his colleagues. “I’ve got letters to the 100 senators on my desk,” he said on Thursday. Here's a preview of what will be in the envelopes: >Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said he's floating a plan that would grant legal status to the nation's 12 million illegal immigrants, but offer no path to citizenship. > >"It might be the equivalent of a green card," Specter said Thursday. "The main thrust is to bring the 12 ...

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Nevermind the Subsidies, We've Got Tax Increases

July 26, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Earlier in the week, I wrote about the farm bill and how its major provision, a subsidy for growers of a select group of crops, was not as progressive as many had hoped for. Well, the farm bill is about to hit the House floor and a new crop of issues has come up that is splitting the parties and threatening to keep the whole bill from moving forward. At issue is a new tax that Democrats revealed last night as a plan to pay for a $4 billion increase in the USDA's food stamp program. The pro...

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Congress Links

July 26, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

"The Attorney General Cannot Investigate Himself" The AP: >A group of Senate Democrats called Thursday for a special counsel to investigate whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales perjured himself during Capitol Hill testimony. TPMmuckracker has a copy of the letter that Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) sent to Solicitor General Paul Clement to request the special counsel. Open Source Naval and Missile Database R...

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The Saga of John Doe

July 25, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

It began on November 20, 2006, on US Airways Flight 300. While the plane was still docked, several passengers on the flight informed the crew that a group of six Muslim passengers were behaving suspiciously -- they had dispersed throughout the plane "in a formation reminiscent of the 9/11 hijackers" and requested seatbelt extenders for no apparent reason -- and the Muslims were removed from the plane, questioned by the police, and eventually released. On March 12, 2007, the Muslim passengers fi...

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Congress in Your Kitchen

July 24, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Every five years Congress is burdened with the task of extending the Farm Bill, a piece of legislation that began as a way to support small farmers from collapsing prices during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Over time, the bill's focus has moved away from its original intent and has become a subsidy for a select group of crops, passing savings along to the big agribusiness corporations who use them in manufacturing. This system has come under increased criticism for its negative impacts on...

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Congress Links

July 23, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Can Congress Force SCHIP Expansion Past Bush? According to this L.A. Times article, Bush may be facing his first veto override. Some lawmakers are predicting that there may be enough Republicans in both chambers who are willing to defy the President's veto threat in favor of expanding this politically-popular program to provide health care to uninsured children: >Many Republicans are "very nervous," said Sen. Gordon H. Smith (R-Ore.), a supporter of a compromise formula that Bush opposes. ...

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To Censure or Impeach?

July 23, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

As the Senate prepares to have their own version of an Executive Branch reprimand introduced, the House of Representative's bill to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney is looking less and less "off the table." Last October, then House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declared that impeachment proceedings against President Bush or Vice President Cheney would be "off the table" if Democrats took control of Congress. However, two statements made by members of Congress over the weekend indicate t...

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When Congress voted in March to fulfill the President's request for supplemental war funds, the House leadership managed to strong-arm many Representatives who wanted to end the war immediately into voting to provide the funds. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) threatened that if they blocked the bill, which contained a gradual troop withdrawal timeline, she would pass a "clean" bill with the support of Republicans and moderate Democrats that simply provides the President with his requested funds. ...

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All eyes have been on the Senate recently as they have taken up debate on a couple of the nation's biggest issues: like immigration reform and the Iraq war. But in the background this whole time, the House of Representatives has been steadily churning out appropriations bills to fund government agencies for fiscal year 2008. They have already completed work on seven (of eleven) of these bills and they are getting ready to put their seal of approval on the eighth later today. The Labor-HHS-Ed...

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What's Next Harry Reid?

July 18, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Well, it's 4 in the morning and the Senate's all-night Iraq debate is rolling right along. John McCain (R-AZ) has the floor right now and he's sounding like he needs a nap in the cloakroom (pictured at right, being prepared with cots). The next bit of action will occur at 5 this morning when a quorum call is held. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has scheduled the quorum call as a way to ensure that at least 51 senators are hanging around for the debate. As TPMCafe points out, if th...

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A bipartisan group of Senators are set to make the opening move in a battle between Congress and the President over reauthorizing a program to provide poor children with health insurance. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which provides health care to children whose families aren't poor enough to receive Medicaid but can't afford to buy private insurance, was set in motion ten years ago and it is scheduled to run out on September 30th of this year. The stakes are high. If ...

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Iraq Debate: With a Vengeance

July 16, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate's Iraq debate began typically last week for the 110th Congress. A popular Democratic proposal to require that U.S. troops be given more time at home between their deployments was blocked, even though an overwhelming majority of the Senate voted for it. The vote on that proposal was 56-41, but because of a Senate rule that allows the minority party to require 60 votes for the passage of any bill or amendment, it was considered a failure and its sponsor, Jim Webb (D-VA) was forced to w...

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