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Drill in Alaska. But Where, Exactly?

July 17, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

"House Democrats failed again on Thursday to pass a measure requiring oil producers to drill on leased land. The bill fell short because Democrats tried to approve it under revised rules that prevented Republicans from offering an alternative measure to open new land for domestic oil and gas exploration."

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Presidential Library Transparency

July 15, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Over the weekend, video was released showing Stephen Payne, a lobbyists with close ties to the White House, offering direct access to Dick Cheney, Condoleeza RIce, or national security adviser Steven Hadley in exchange for a donation of "a couple hundred thousand" to the Bush library. There is a bipartisan bill in Congress designed to stop exactly this kind of money-for-access scheme, but it is being blocked from becoming law by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), who says he will only remove his objection if it's amended to take effect after fundraising for the Bush library is finished.

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This Week in Congress

July 14, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Congress this week may send a housing relief package (CP) to President Bush for his signature. The other major action in the House and Senate will be on energy-related measures, as both Republicans and Democrats propose fixes for high energy prices. There is also a primary election in Georgia this week, as we prepare for the fall election season.

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Visualize FISA

July 14, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Who are we supposed to believe about the new FISA bill? Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) calls it "a marked improvement over last year's Protect America Act" at the same time that blogger Glenn Greenwald insists that it "does not merely authorize most of the President’s so-called 'Terrorist Surveillance Program' that gave rise to this scandal in the first place, but is actually much broader in scope even than that lawless program."

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Let Congress Tweet!

July 13, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Recently, members of Congress have started using real-time web services like Twitter and Qik to connect with the public in amazing new ways. Representatives have debated legislation live on Twitter by sending text messages from the House floor, and spontaneous, unedited video of daily life in the Capitol Building has been broadcast live on Qik. As John Culberson (R-TX), the most active user of these services on the Hill, says, "this new technology allows him to bypass the mainstream media and shine sunlight into the darkest corners of Congress." But all this new technology is running up against old congressional rules, and from the controversy a new campaign has emerged: Let Our Congress Tweet!

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Kucinich: Impeach Bush for Lying About WMDs

July 10, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who introduced 35 articles of impeachment against President Bush last month, is back pushing impeachment again, this time with only one article. His push to impeach Bush appears to have gained some traction in the month since his last attempt. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has insisted since day one of the 110th Congress that impeachment is "off the table," but today she said she expects the House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on Kucinich's article.

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Congress Gives Bush His Wiretapping Bill

July 9, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

After almost a year of wrangling with the White House, Congress on Wednesday finalized a bill to modernize and broaden the government's ability to wiretap. Twenty one Democrats joined every Republican in the Senate in voting for and passing the wiretapping bill, which, despite a valiant effort by civil libertarian activists, gives retroactive legal immunity to the telecom companies that helped the Bush Administration execute its warrantless wiretapping program from 2001 to 2007.

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Congress Takes on the Oil Specualtors

July 8, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

There's a near consensus in Congress that the best plan of action for lowering gas prices is to control the influence of financial speculators in futures markets. At a recent House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, financial experts testified that eliminating excessive speculation could reduce gas prices by as much as 50 percent. A dozen or so bills have been introduced in Congress by members of both parties, each with a slightly different approach to addressing the issue. But it finally looks like one has been singled out to pursue and pass into law.

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Senate Holds 101

July 8, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Via John of the Open House Project, here's a great DailyKos post from Kagro X that takes us to school on the basics of Senate "holds." Understanding the basic power structures at play in the Senate is essential for figuring out how hard your elected officials are fighting to protect your interests. Kagro really does an amazing job of explaining it all in a fun and informative way. If you're wondering why "Harry Reid blew off Chris Dodd's hold on the FISA bill, but Tom Coburn gets to have 1...

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What Do They REALLY Stand For?

July 8, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Late last week Congersspedia announced a cool new crowdsourcing project: help publicize what candidates for Congress and the White House stand for. They've assembled a guide to direct people to resources on the Web that make it easier for people to identify a politicians' positions on all kinds of issues. They're hoping that a collaborative approach will help bring the often hard to uncover "real" positions of politicians out into the open. >Who supports continuing the War in Iraq? Who w...

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Addicted to Paper

July 8, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

OMB Watch posted today about this behind-the-scenes decision made by Congress: >CQ reports ($) that Congress intends to reverse OMB's decision to stop issuing printed budgets to various government offices. > >>The committee report accompanying the fiscal 2009 Financial Services appropriations bill, which includes funds for White House operations, instructs OMB to send paper copies of the budget to Capitol Hill next year. >> >>"Committees and Members' offices frequently rely on the printed ...

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This Week in Congress

July 7, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Coming up this week in the Senate are Harry Reid's latest attempts to pass the main bill containing Congress' response to the housing and mortgage crisis and a rollback of a cut in doctors' payments for Medicare services. A vote on the FISA (warrantless wiretapping) bill is also possible. The House won't be doing much.

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Get Ready for the FISA Debate

July 7, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate's returns today from their July 4th recess, and they'll soon be voting on a controversial rewrite of the nation's foreign intelligence surveillance law known as FISA. Civil liberty-minded activists who oppose the bill, a group of mostly Democrats but some Republicans too, have been pushing Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) to support a filibuster of the bill over a part of it that would give legal immunity to the telecom companies that assisted in the Bush Administration's warrantless (and some say illegal) wiretapping program. But unless Obama changes his position and leads the crusade against the bill, the best chances at altering the immunity provision will come in three separate amendments to be voted on before the final vote on passage.

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A National Speed Limit

July 3, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

"Sen. John Warner, R-Va., asked Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to look into what speed limit would provide optimum gasoline efficiency given current technology. He said he wants to know if the administration might support efforts in Congress to require a lower speed limit."

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Wexler on "The Iran War Resolution"

July 3, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

As I blogged last week, when the House comes back from July 4th recess, they'll likely pass a bill that many people believe is tantamount to a declaration of war with Iran. The bill, H.Con.Res.362, "demands" that President Bush initiate an international effort to prohibit Iran from importing oil, inspect all cargo and vehicles coming in and out of Iran, and block all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran’s nuclear program from leaving their country. Despite its strong and provocative language, many liberal, anti-war Democrats are supporting it. Rob Kall of OpEdNews got a chance to question one of them, Robert Wexler (D-FL), on why he supports the resolution despite the risk of starting a war.

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