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Senate Passes Emergency War Bill

June 26, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

(Cross-posted from SENATUS) The Senate has passed an Emergency War Supplemental Spending Bill (H.R. 2642) by a vote of 92 (Y) to 6 (N). The overall bill will provide some $162 billion in funding for war-related activities in Iraq and Afghanistan through the rest of this year and part of 2009. The Senate technically had already passed the war funding portion of the bill earlier this year while this vote focused on the domestic spending provisions. Those provisions include the initiation of ...

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Can Congress Give Us $2 Gas?

June 26, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

A proposal aimed at lowering gas prices is picking up bipartisan support in Congress. It's not the summer gas tax holiday or opening up ANWR to drilling, but an increase in regulation of the speculators that now dominate the energy-futures market. At a hearing on Monday, energy analysts told Congress that if legislation to limit speculation in energy-futures markets was enacted, gas prices could go down by as much as 50 percent within 30 days.

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Congress in a Wordle

June 25, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The good people at O'Reilly News have taken Capitol Words and turned it into a word cloud via Wordle. The resulting image is an easily comprehensible overview of the words that have been used most often so far in this session of Congress. The bigger the word, the more frequently it has been spoken in the House and Senate: ...

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Telecom Immunity and Telecom Money

June 24, 2008 - by Donny Shaw >"On March 14 of this year the House passed an amendment that rejected retroactive immunity for phone carriers who helped the National Security Agency carry out the illegal wiretapping program without proper warrants. Ninety-four House Democrats voted in favor of this measure - rejecting immunity - on March 14, then ‘changed’ to vote in favor of the June 20 House bill - approving immunity. > >“Why did these ninety-four House members have a change of heart?” asked Daniel Newman,...

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A pair of non-binding resolutions that are quickly gaining bipartisan support and sponsorship in the House and Senate call on the President to block all oil imports to Iran. As the bills themselves state, "Iran must import around 40 percent of its daily requirements for refined petroleum products," making the sanctions a potentially effective economic incentive to keep the country from pursuing nuclear weapons capability. The problem, though, is that it would likely require an all-out naval blockade, which is widely considered an act of war.

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OpenCongress at Personsonal Democracy Forum

June 23, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

David and I are at Lincoln Center in New York for Personal Democracy Forum 2008. It's an incredible gathering of people working at the intersection of new technologies and politics, and there's a sense among everyone here that we're on the cusp of changing politics and governance through the democratizing power of the internet. Obviously, this is something we really care about, and we're glad to be here participating in the discourse and figuring out the best ways for moving forward. The s...

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Thirteen Useful New Features on OpenCongress

June 20, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The prospect of rifling through cluttered government websites to find information about Congress is enough to make a concerned citizen give up before even starting. With OpenCongress, we're working to make it easy for anyone to find the exact information they want about every bill, issue, person, and vote in Congress.

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Congress Debates FISA, Immunity Included

June 19, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Congress' much-talked-about telecom immunity compromise has finally been made public, and, as expected, it basically guarantees that the companies will be let off the hook. The full text of the new, compromise immunity provision is in this post, below.

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Congress in One Word

June 19, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The Sunlight Foundation yesterday launched a really cool new site: CapitolWords. It's insanely simple - for every day Congress is in session, the site displays the word that was spoken most frequently in the House and Senate or inserted in the Congressional Record. Yesterday's hot word was "oil." The day before that, "health." This is a great tool for tracking trends in the issues Congress deems most worthy of action... er, debate.

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Huge Opposition to the New FISA Compromise

June 18, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

A bipartisan group of lawmakers and the Bush Administration are about to announce a compromise on the controversial telecom immunity proposal that has been holding up passage of an electronic surveillance bill. Thing is, from what's been stated in all the initial reports, the compromise is nothing more than the original blanket immunity proposal, which was vehemently opposed and blocked by some congressional Democrats last month, just dressed in different clothes.

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Democrats Hunker Down to Help the Unemployed

June 17, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

With the recent jump in the jobless rate, congressional Democrats are serious about extending unemployment insurance benefits. After running into opposition from Republicans and conservative Democrats in all the various ways they've tried to get the extension passed, the Democratic leaders are putting it back in the place it will be safest: the war funding bill. Once Congress passes that bill it will be up to President Bush to either accept the $162 billion in war money with the unemployment extension attached, or veto the whole thing and risk further delays in getting money and resources to U.S. troops in Iraq.

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This Week in Congress

June 16, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Democratic leaders in the House and Senate this week will be keeping all options on the table while trying to complete legislation prior to the July 4 summer recess. Extended unemployment benefits (CP) are still awaiting approval, and a tax measure torpedoed by Senate Republicans last week will once again be on the agenda. In addition, confirmation hearings may proceed for five nominees to the Federal Election Commission, while the House may try to make another push for a new energy package.

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Kucinich Pushes to Impeach Bush

June 13, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Should Congress use their time holding George Bush accountable for violating all kinds of laws in the lead up to the Iraq War, or dealing with the current and future problems facing the country? The Democratic leadership, lead by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has consistently favored the latter, insisting since the 2006 elections that "impeachment is off the table." But Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and a group of Democrats on the left of the party are pushing back against the leadership - most recently with a bill to impeach President Bush.

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Dems Push to Ban Private Interrogators

June 12, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Buried deep within an enormous bill to authorize U.S. defense policies for 2009 is a provision to ban the use of private contractors for interrogating detainees, limiting the job to authorized government personnel. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill contain the private interrogators ban, which has caused the Bush administration to threaten a veto. They argue that it "would unduly limit the United States’ ability to obtain intelligence needed to protect Americans from attack.”

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A compromise on telecom immunity is shaping up behind the scenes of the Senate. According to some Democrats, the deal-making is actually a cover-up for a proposal that satisfies all the demands of the President and the telecom companies, and does little to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans.

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