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A Better Farm Bill

September 27, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The farm bill that the House of Representatives passed in July was not all that it was cracked up to be. Many were hoping that the newly-elected Democrats would pass a better farm bill that attacked the policies that have lead to widespread obesity and poor health in America. But instead of gutting the central, most egregious provisions of the bill, they left them untouched and did some minor tweaking around the edges. Leading House Democrats insisted on calling their bill "reform."

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The Pawn and the Puppetmaster

September 26, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

After months of wondering what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's been hiding, the mystery was finally revealed on Monday. Senator John Ensign (R-NV) came forward and identified himself as the senator who's been anonymously blocking passage of S.223 under McConnell's asylum. Or so it seemed. The Sunlight Foundation did some more digging and discovered that Ensign is actually just the scapegoat and that the senator Mitch McConnell's really been hiding is

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The Untouchable SCHIP Veto

September 26, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Looks like the President will have no problem sinking Congress' SCHIP. The House was hoping to pass a bill to reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program -- or SCHIP -- with enough votes to override the veto that President Bush has threatened. They didn't. It passed the House on Tuesday night with a strong, bi-partisan vote of 265-159, but that's still about 25 votes short of the amount needed to reverse a veto.

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Prelude to a War With Iran

September 25, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

In a matter of hours, the Senate is expected to vote on an amendment co-auhored by Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) that, if passed, would be Congress' first significant act towards authorizing the use of military force against Iran. It is a non-binding "sense of the Senate" amendment, but it would officially put the Senate on record in support of using military force in order to curb Iran's destabilizing influence in Iraq.

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Irresponsible Overspending or Hypocritical Budget Cuts?

September 24, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

You may have noticed Monday's dustup between Congress and the Administration in which President Bush called on Congress to be clean and Congressman David Obey (D-WI) called the President a rooster. Scathing remarks, but they were only meant metaphorically. As the week winds down and the October 1st budget deadline approaches and passes, however, things will get more serious and we can expect to hear some real nasty, non-metaphorical slander tossed around Washington. Prepare yourself to hear such vileness as "hypocrite" and -- gasp -- "fiscally irresponsible."

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Watch the Earmarkers

September 24, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Congress passed new rules to make earmarking more transparent, now it's our turn to hold them accountable. Today, Taxpayers for Common Sense and the Sunlight Foundation launched EarmarkWatch.org, a new site that encourages distributive research and makes earmark reviewing easy.

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No Progress for Anti-War Senators

September 21, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

It's been a bad week for legislators who oppose the war in Iraq. The Senate spent the entire week on the Department of Defense Authorization Act, a bill that's been considered Congress's best bet for changing the course of the war. But even though several Iraq-related amendments found the support of the majority of the Senate, none were able to clear the 60-vote procedural barrier that was used to keep them from coming to a regular vote.

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Mini Amnesty

September 20, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Conciliation for big legislative failures often comes as passage of a miniaturized version of the proposal that helps only the most inculpable demographic: the children. So far in the 110th Congress, the major legislative flop has been comprehensive immigration reform. And, appropriately, its miniaturized, child-specific counterpart, the DREAM Act, is ready to be voted on any day now.

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Bleak Prospects for Children's Health Bill

September 19, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

A few weeks ago it seemed possible that a bill to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) would be the impetus for the first veto override of George Bush's presidency. But, under pressure from the Tobacco and Health Insurance industries, many lawmakers have backed away from crucial provisions of the bill, forcing congressional negotiators to settle on a version of it that lawmakers are much less excited about.

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Let Congress Know You Are Watching

September 18, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

We are really excited to be releasing our latest widget today. Our new "Congress, I'm Watching" widget lets you announce your support or opposition of legislation, while also sharing links to clear, up-to-date information that encourages others to get involved themselves.

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An Iraq Proposal that Just Might Pass the Senate

September 16, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

We've heard recently from the GAO, the military, and the White House. This week we'll hear from Congress on how to move forward in Iraq. Today, the Senate will once again take up debate of the Department of Defense Authorization bill that they pulled from the table in July after failing to break a Republican filibuster in an all-night session.

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Hooray!

September 14, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

In a major victory for all, President Bush today quietly signed into law S.1, the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007. While this bill is by no means a cure-all for the corruption and secrecy that has plagued Congress in recent years, It is a huge first step in the right direction. It will send an immediate jolt to both lobbyists and lawmakers in the Senate, whose cozy relationships -- the gifts, the trips, the marital job market -- which will, in many ways, become illegal tomorrow.

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Surging Back

September 13, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

In politics, money often comes with an implicit message. A new report out today from the Center of Responsive Politics indicates that members of the military, a traditionally Republican group, seem to be contributing to congressional and presidential campaigns in a pattern that makes their message very clear.

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Has the Energy Bill Lost its Steam?

September 12, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

Remember the comprehensive energy bills that the House and Senate passed earlier this summer? Well, that may have been the last we'll see of them for a while. The bills are waiting to be reconciled by a conference committee, but all odds are stacked against that actually happening.

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All This Over That?

September 12, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

In the budget clash that is shaping up, the stakes are high, but the amount of money involved is almost negligible. President Bush has threatened to veto 9 of Congress's 12 government funding bills for fiscal year '08 because, he says, they contain "irresponsible and excessive level of spending." But, when you look at the numbers, Congress's budget differs from Bush's request by such a small amount that it seems a ludicrous reason to ramp up a political standoff, especially when it puts all of America at risk of a total government shutdown.

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