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A Bipartisan Attack on Democracy

August 18, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The supercommittee on deficit reduction that Congress created in the debt ceiling bill is an absurdly anti-democratic institution. The vast majority of Americans do not have a representative serving on it, yet it's responsible for making enormous decisions about the allocation of public resources that will profoundly effect every American for decades to come. Furthermore, Congress gave it special powers that no other member or committee in Congress enjoys. Their proposal will be guaranteed a vote in both chambers of Congress, no amendments, points of order, or motions to reconsider will be allowed, and it will not be susceptible to filibusters in the Senate. That's right, the Senate couldn't reform filibuster rules at the beginning of the session because doing so would violate minority rights, but they still managed to change them for the supercommittee. But that's not all. The 12 members that have been chosen to serve on the supercommittee appear to have been picked in order to limit electoral accountability as well.

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Senate Dems Abandon Filibuster Reform

January 25, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The Democrats' cave-in on reforming the filibuster in the Senate appears to be complete. According to reports, Senate Rules Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Schumer [D, NY] is bringing a proposal to his fellow Democrats this afternoon that would do nothing to address the recent explosion in senators using procedural rules to kill bills just by threatening to filibuster. It apparently includes three minor changes in the Senate rules and is accompanied by a gentlemen's agreement to start behaving more reasonably, sometimes. Here's what's in it.

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The Week Ahead in Congress

January 23, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The big event this week, of course, will be Obama's third State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Some senators and representatives are planning to buck the age-old tradition of sitting across the aisle from their counterparts in the other party and will instead disburse throughout House Chamber in an ad hoc, bipartisan buddy system. Ideological opposites Sen. Chuck Schumer [D, NY] and Sen. Tom Coburn [R, OK] will be watching the President side-by-side, as will centrists Sen. Mary Landrieu [D, LA] and Sen. Olympia Snowe [R, ME]. Rep. Joe Wilson [R, SC-2], famous for his "You lie!" outburst at last year's speech, will be sitting with Rep. Madeleine Bordallo [D, Guam]. It's all very pleasant and nice. Outside of the SOTU speech this week, however, both chambers have some less cute work-type stuff to take care of.

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