Since Congress has been on August recess, the U.S. has lost its prime credit rating for the first time in history, the Congressional Budget Office has dramatically lowered their unemployment recovery expectations, and more economists have come out with predictions of a double-dip recession. Given all that, it seems reasonable to think that Congress might come back from recess ready to put aside the partisanship and forge a compromise to create jobs and begin stabilizing the economy. The Republicans in the House of Representatives today unveiled their fall agenda -- let's take a look at what kinds of fresh ideas they've come up with over the past month.Read Full Article
Just as new revelations are emerging about the possible link between the most widely-used pesticide in the U.S. and human birth defects, Congress is working to liberalize pesticide-use policy to allow farmers and local governments to spray near public waterways without having to seek special permission under the Clean Water Act. On Tuesday, the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee unanimously approved H.R 872, a bill "to amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify Congressional intent regarding the regulation of the use of pesticides in or near navigable waters, and for other purposes." The House of Representatives passed the bill on March 31st by a vote of 292-130.Read Full Article
Just in case you need more evidence that the floor of the House of Representatives has devolved into little more than a political sideshow, let's take a look at how they're allocating their time these days. On Wednesday the Rules Committee got together for 10 minutes to decide that extending the three most controversial provisions of the PATRIOT Act would be allowed 1 hour of debate on the floor. The day before that they met for more than an hour and decided to give 9.5 hours of debate to …wait for it... a non-binding resolution directing committees to hold hearings on regulations that businesses don't like.
That's right. One hour for debate on allowing the government to continue demanding that libraries and businesses turn over individuals' private records without being allowed to notify the individual, but 9.5 hours for debating on a non-binding bill requesting committees to hold hearings. One hour for debate on allowing the government to continue using "roving" wiretaps on multiple phones and devices that suspects may possibly use, but 9.5 hours for debating on a non-binding bill requesting committees to hold hearings. One hour for debate on allowing the government to surveil supposed terrorist suspects that aren't part of a terrorist group, but 9.5 hours for debating on a non-binding bill requesting committees to hold hearings. You get the picture.
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More than one year after the crisis on Wall Street, the House of Representatives today passed a landmark bill (H.R. 4173) to fix some of the regulatory lapses that are alleged to have caused the crisis and puts in place new mechanisms for preventing "too big to fail" banking and the resulting bailouts.Read Full Article