OpenCongress will be shutting down on March 1st. But don't worry: We're doing so for a number of good reasons. From then on, we'll be redirecting users to the excellent GovTrack, where you can continue to monitor Congress.

OpenCongress Blog

Blog Feed Comments Feed More RSS Feeds

The Dodd Amendment

May 11, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Ryan Grim has posted the full text of the Dodd (Shelby approved) Senate amendment to the House-passed Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act. The amendment completely wipes out the original text and replaces it with new text. Ninety percent of it is more or less the same as the House version, but there are differences. Senatus has the key provisions of the Dodd bill. One change in the Dodd bill that stands out to me is that he seems to be trying to rename the bill to the "Credit CARD Act," whi...

Read Full Article

Dodd the populist hero?

May 10, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Can Sen. Chris Dodd [D, CT] regain the public's trust after inserting a loophole in the stimulus bill that cleared the way for the AIG bonuses? Ever since the AIG fiasco, he's been trailing in the polls, as far as 16 points behind a potential Republican challenger. This week, when the Senate takes up House-passed legislation to reign in abusive credit card company practices, Senator Dodd will be leading an effort to create even stronger consumer protections, and sooner.

Read Full Article

Job Losses Slow

May 8, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Not directly related to Congress, but today's news on what is probably the most important economic indicator is still relevant on many fronts. According to the Labor Department's monthly jobs report, the unemployment rate hit a 25-year high of 8.9 percent in April, but the number of jobs lost during the month fell to their lowest level since October. I'm guessing that this coupled with the Treasury's optimistic stress test results released yesterday will weaken the Democrats' hand in finalizi...

Read Full Article

House Passes Major Mortgage industry Reforms

May 7, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The House today passed a bill that, to my mind, is a fairly significant response to the subprime mortgage mess that is at the root of the current economic crisis. The bill, known as the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act, would ban pay incentives for mortgage brokers to steer borrowers into high-priced loans, require brokers to ensure that borrowers have a "reasonable ability" to repay the loan they are getting and require that all refinancing transactions provide a "net tangible benefit" for homeowners. If brokers fail to meet these requirements, they would be liable to be sued.

Read Full Article

Congress Looks to Investigate Wall Street

May 5, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Are we ready to start looking back at the origins of our crisis and ask questions about what went wrong? Congress thinks so. The House on Wednesday is expected to follow the Senate's lead in approving legislation to establish a bipartisan Financial Markets Commission, made up of lawyers, economists and regulators, to examine the causes, both global and domestic, of the economic crisis.

Read Full Article

House Takes on the Subprime Mortgage Industry

May 4, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Following their action on the Credit Cardholder's Bill of Rights Act last week, the House is continuing this week to try and fix some of the regulatory lapses that contributed to the consumer debt explosion that is at the center of our current economic crisis. This week, the House will take up a bill to reform and regulate the subprime mortgage lending industry -- the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act.

Read Full Article

Cracking Down on the Credit Card Companies

April 22, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Congress is switching gears a bit, turning their attention from hearings on the financial crisis to markups on legislation that would protect consumers against credit card companies. The House Financial Services Committee today approved a bill, the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights, that seeks to restrict interest rate hikes, penalties and fees. The vote was 48-19, with 9 of the 29 Republicans in the Committee voting in favor. All Democrats supported the bill. Click through for a full summary.

Read Full Article

A Cram-Down Deal

April 16, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Congress's leading bill to address the foreclosure crisis has been stuck in the Senate for the past five weeks, but a deal may have finally been reached. It looks like the main provision of the The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009, which would let bankruptcy judges rework mortgages for homeowners facing foreclosure, including a "cram-down" of the principle, would be significantly weakened.

Read Full Article

Save My Pawn Shop

April 12, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Pawn shop owners are worried that Sen. Durbin's bill to cap interest rates on all kinds of loans at 36 percent would put them all out of business. The high-interest, short-term loans that pawnbrokers give out, backed by undervalued jewelry, camera, instruments and the like, would be covered under the bill.

Read Full Article

Stopping Future Bonuses

March 30, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

While the 90-percent bailout bonus tax bill has basically stalled out in the Senate, there's a new bill coming to the floor of the House this week that is designed to block future bonuses - like the $1 billion in AIG bonuses scheduled for later this year - from being paid out. House Progressive Caucus member Rep. Alan Grayson [D, FL-8] is teaming up with New Democrats member Rep. James Himes [D, CT-4] on a bill, the Pay for Performance Act, to freeze executive bonuses at companies receiving bailout money until they are in a position to start repaying the government.

Read Full Article

Rangel to be Cleared?

February 4, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

On C-Span last Sunday, Rep. Charles Rangel [D, NY-15] predicted that the Select Committee on Ethics would clear him of all the ethics violations that have been piling up on him for months. Bill Allison of the Real Time Investigations blog points out just how crazy that would be

Read Full Article

There may be some hope for increased oversight and accountability of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) after all. This afternoon, The House passed Barney Frank's TARP oversight legislation, the details of which I spelled out in a previous post, and now there is a glimmer of hope from the Senate that Democrats may push to pass similar legislation.

Read Full Article

Pushing TARP Transparency

January 14, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Chris Bowers at Open Left posted this video of freshman Democrat Rep. Alan Grayson at yesterday's Financial Services Committee hearing grilling Fed Vice-Chairman Donald Kohn on the lack of transparency in the financial bailout: The related legislation here, as I've been writing about a lot this week, is the TARP Reform and Accountability Act. The bill is designed to require more accountability and transparency in how the second $350 billion tranche of the TARP money is spent. Rep. Barney...

Read Full Article

CEO Pay Loopholes

January 12, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Mike Lillis at the Washington Independent reports on worries that the stricter executive compensation limits in Rep. Barney Frank's TARP accountability bill are still full of loopholes: >The heads of bailed-out banks could still receive nearly unlimited pay under a new Democratic proposal to rein in executive compensation for firms participating in the taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailout, according to at least one House Democrat, who hopes to add tighter restrictions this week. > >Rep. Brad ...

Read Full Article

This morning, I wrote about a bill from Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) designed to improve accountability of the remaining $350 billion of the financial bailout program known as TARP. Frank's bill would require bailed out firms to report how they have spent the taxpayer money,strengthen restrictions on executive pay, require the Treasury to use some of the money for foreclosure prevention, and much more.

But now Barney Frank seems to be backing away from passing his bill and, instead, is trusting that President-elect Obama will follow it even though it isn't required by law:

Read Full Article