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A day after President Obama said that he will help whip votes for passing climate change legislation in the Senate this year, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] called on committee chairmen to prepare a strategy for passing a climate bill this summer. And he's calling for proposals to address the BP oil leak to be rolled into it.

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The Republican Oil Spill Liability Alternative

June 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Senate Democrats have tried three times to pass their bill to raise the liability cap on oil companies for the economic impact of spills, and three times Republicans objected -- once through Sen. Lisa Murkowski [R, AK] and twice through Sen. David Vitter [R, LA]. The Republicans call the Democrats' proposal for a $10 billion cap "arbitrary" and argue that it would be too high for all but the biggest oil companies to be involved in offshore drilling.

On May 25, after objecting to the Democrats' bill for the second time, Senator Vitter came out with his own alternative, called the Acceptance of Liability and Expedited Claims at Mississippi Canyon 252 Act. According to Vitter, his bill would completely remove the liability cap for economic damages on BP for the Deepwater Horizon spill and establish an expedited claims process.

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UPDATE: The Sanders one-time Fed audit amendment has passed, 96-0. The Vitter amendment to open up the Fed to audits in perpetuity was rejected, 37-62.

Last week, an amendment from Sen. Bernie Sanders [I, VT] to remove a section of U.S. code that protects the Federal Reserve from meaningful audits looked set to pass over objections from Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Chris Dodd [D, CT] and the White House. Then, all of a sudden, to alleviate concerns that it would put President Obama in a sticky situation (there was speculation that he would veto the whole financial reform bill over the amendment), Sanders agreed to change his amendment so that it keeps the special protections in U.S. code in tact, and instead allows the government to conduct a one-time audit of the Fed and what they have done from Dec. 1, 2007 until now, notwithstanding the special protections.

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What's 1,000 Pages Got to Do With It?

August 26, 2009 - by Paul Blumenthal

Over the summer quite a number of people have raised hackles about the length of legislation. Recently, Sen. David Vitter declared his "fundamental" opposition to "any 1,000 page bill." While this appears to be a new found opposition -- Vitter voted in favor of the 1,000 page Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 -- the trend of lengthy legislation is not new.

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