As congressional approval reaches new lows, it's more important than ever that people have a reliable public forum for communicating with their members of Congress. Yet, as we've seen during this August recess, communicating with Congress is actually getting more difficult. Less than half of senators and represntativs are holding public town hall meetings this year. Constituents trying to speak with their members are being threatened with arrest, and those fortunate enough to be able to attend meetings are having their rights to document the public events violated by police. Clearly we need better channels for open discourse between the public and their elected officials. That's what motivated us to build our free and open-source suite of OpenCongress v.3 tools, which put engaging with Congress at the center of the site experience.Read Full Article
Acting on behalf of the full United States Senate, two senators took the afternoon out of their August recesses and returned to the Capitol this afternoon to pass a $600 billion border security bill, honor the late Sen. Ted Stevens, and advance legislation to protect guns from being taken by claimants in bankruptcy proceedings. You can watch the full 30-minute session and find more info about the legislation that inspired this mid-August-recess session by clicking through to read this post...Read Full Article
The House came back from their August recess today to vote on the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act, which the Senate passed last Thursday, after the House had already adjourned. It gives states $26.1 billion to help pay for Medicaid and teachers' salaries. Since both chambers passed the exact same version of the bill, it was immediately enrolled by Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D, CA-8] and sent directly to Obama, who has already signed it into law.
The vote was a near-party-line 247-161. Two Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for the bill with the Democrats -- Rep. Anh Cao [R, LA-2] and Rep. Michael Castle [R, DE-0]. Three Democrats, all members of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition, voted with Republicans against the bill -- Rep. Bobby Bright [D, AL-2], Rep. Jim Cooper [D, TN-5] and Rep. Gene Taylor [D, MS-4]. Twenty-five congressmen didn't take the time out of the recess to return to D.C. and vote on the bill, including 7 Democrats and 18 Republicans.Read Full Article
It's August recess, but the House will be back in session for a few hours this week to vote on a bill that the Senate passed last week to help retain teaching jobs and across the country help states pay for Medicaid. The bill, known at the "Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act," is scheduled to be voted on Tuesday.
Here's the official House schedule for the week:Read Full Article
Don't look now, but legislation is actually moving in the Senate. Congress Daily ($):
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The Senate today sent the House a $26 billion state aid package after defeating two amendments from Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., seeking to permanently extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.
The package, which passed 61-39, would provide $16.1 billion to extend for six months increased Medicaid funding for states, known as FMAP. The measure also provides $10 billion for a fund Democrats say will avert 138,000 teacher layoffs. It passed with the support of two Republicans, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine.