When I posted a link on Twitter on Facebook yesterday to the first bill scheduled for a vote in the Senate lame duck session -- the Promoting Natural Gas and Electric Vehicles Act of 2010 -- people asked a good question: why, given the time restraints and all the important issues that need to be dealt with, is this bill getting the first vote? One possible answer is that the vote is part of a straight-up quid pro quo:Read Full Article
The upcoming lame duck session is the last chance for Congress to require disclosure of unions, corporations and special interests that donate to campaigns, without limit, under the loopholes opened up by the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. FEC decision. If it doesn't get done before the year ends, the Republicans, who have stood in lock-step against disclosure, will gain even more influence in Congress and the 2012 elections will be controlled by secretive special interests to a whole new level.Read Full Article
Before the elections, congressional Democrats were talking about using the upcoming lame duck session for passing on a renewable energy standard bill, creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants that complete high school or serve in the military, setting tariffs for countries that manipulate their currency, repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and much more. But in the wake of their midterm "shellacking," they are quickly scaling back their ambitions. Inside sources who spoke with The Hill are saying not to expect anything beyond a continuing resolution to keep the government running until the end of the year and a debate on the expiring Bush tax cuts.Read Full Article
Last Wednesday, in his post midterms press conference, President Obama deflected a question about his promise to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" by laying out a plan to get it done in the lame duck session. And on Sunday Secretary of Defense Robert Gates jumped out in front of the upcoming Pentagon review and urged Congress to get the repeal done before the end of the year. But despite these encouraging signs from the Administration, there's a bipartisan agreement developing between the top senators in charge of military policy to abandon the repeal this year.Read Full Article
Rep. Ron Paul [R, TX-14], the most popular member of Congress amongst OC users, is in line next session to take control of the Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology subcommittee, oversees the Federal Reserve, among other things. Paul is well known for being critical of the Fed, having recently authored a book titled "End the Fed" and sponsoring legislation session after session designed to accomplish just what the book title suggests. He has inspired a powerful, Tea Party-aligned grassroots movement around his ideas of abolishing the Fed and changing the fundamental structure of the U.S. monetary system. With the Fed right now at the center of efforts to get the economy back up and running, having Paul take over Fed oversight right now could really shake things up.Read Full Article
Incoming Financial Services Chairman Rep. Spencer Bachus [R, AL-6] is using the leverage he gained Tuesday night to try to weaken how regulators implement the already-weak derivatives reform provisions in the Dodd-Frank Act.Read Full Article
With a Republican House and a shrunken Democratic majority in the Senate, one of the big Democratic policy goals that we can safely kiss goodbye for the next few years is a cap-and-trade climate change bill. But with the uncertainty of 2012 and the pressing nature of the climate issue, Obama and the Democrats will probably still want to do something in the next session of Congress to make progress on the issue, even if it's not as strong as they want. Here's a look at where Democrats and Republicans could find agreement on climate change action.Read Full Article
For today's updates, surf along with our micropublishing account. Man there is some good content there this morning... a WSJ profile of Rep. Boehner, a Politifact take-down of misinformation that circulates via viral e-mails, pleasantly substantive political analysis of this past session of Congress from Ezra Klein at the WaPo, always more...
The next session of Congress will be the first session with the chambers split between the Democrats and the Republicans since 1985. At this point, I'd say the few potential issues with bipartisan appeal that could get done in the next session include: improving the nation's food safety system, creating a new federal cybersecurity infrastructure, expanding offshore drilling, dealing with the China currency issue, and probably a few other marginal issues. Another big question is going to be if the parties can come together on structural reforms like revising the filibuster rules in the Senate or changing the way federal campaigns are financed. I'm not banking on any progress on these issues, but they really are the wild cards in all this. They're not necessarily partisan issues, they have broad appeal with voters, and they would forever change the way Congress (an institution with a 10% public approval rating) works.Read Full Article
For non-neurotic, rolling updates on election night, surf along with our Twitter account.
As you watch the election results come in tonight, keep an eye on the race to represent Alaska in the U.S. Senate. Lisa Murkowski narrowly lost her primary this spring against newcomer and Tea Party candidate Joe Miller. She then decided to run as an independent, but Alaska election law keeps her off the ballot because she lost a primary, so she's having to run as a write-in (which isn't easy with a last name like Murkowski). Miller now has the Republican nomination and a lot of Tea Party support, but had an ugly falling-out with Sarah Palin recently when he refused to say she was qualified to be president. However, he is now the official Republican nominee, so the Washington Republican establishment, as represented by the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, is now backing him hard against Murkowski (whom it formerly backed), who now trying to take votes away from Democratic nominee Scott McAdams by running as a centrist.
Got all that?
The bizarreness of this race is reflected in the campaign ads being tracked on our Alaska Senate AdTracker page
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UPDATE: Follow OpenCongress on Twitter for non-neurotic election coverage and links to relevant info about the candidates, the victors, and what it all means for what happens in Congress.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know that today's the day to go out and vote for your representatives in Congress, your Governor, and some other important positions. Voting is the easiest way to get involved as citizens and influence public policy, so, if you do nothing else political this year, you should at least go do this. There are tons of super tight races across the country, so your vote will truly make a difference this time around. If you still don't know who to vote for, check out the OpenCongress Voters' Toolbox for some info that might help you make a decision. And if you don't know where to go to vote, use the dirt-simple tool from Google embedded in this post. It'll tell you where to go, how to get there, and even remind you who your candidates are.Read Full Article
If Sen. Mitch McConnell [R, KY] actually values making Obama a one-term President above all else as he told the National Journal recently, he and his fellow Republicans will have a perfect chance to muck things up in the very near future when debt ceiling legislation comes up in order to avoid defaulting on the national debt. Howard Fineman at the Huffington Post explained recently that we can expect a vote on the debt limit early in the next session, and that, so far, the Republicans have no plans to go along with it.Read Full Article
What's actually going to happen in the lame duck session of Congress is still pretty much a mystery. But if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's [D, NV] word is worth anything, we now know for sure at least one bill that will get a vote, and -- no surprise here -- it's one with strong appeal to the Latino voters in Nevada Reid is counting on to help him defeat challenger Sharron Angle on Tuesday.Read Full Article