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Senate Democrats Looking to End Default Gridlock

January 8, 2013 - by Donny Shaw

Since 2007, the year the Democrats re-gained control of Congress, the filibuster has turned into standard procedure for virtually everything that happens in the Senate. What was once considered a special rule to be used on rare occasions for personal dissent on an issue has become a routine matter of course for obstructing the other side of the aisle and gaining a political advantage.

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Update, 7pm ET, Friday Jan. 4th, 2013: Data from the 113th Congress is now live on OpenCongress. We have a fresh blog post coming soon on brand-new bills introduced over the past two days. Latest bill & member info for both chambers seems to be displaying fine, let us know if you see any glitches or have any questions, david at opencongress.org. OK cool.

Previously: The 112th U.S. Congress ended, as you likely know, with a sadsack pratfall of unaccountable public policymaking - a compromise between the two major parties avoiding the "fiscal curb" - via a vote on H.R. 8, specifically the House roll call 659 (257 aye, 167 nay, 8 abstain) - and previously by Senate roll call 251 (89 aye, 8 nay, 3 abstain). More info & fiscal what-cha-ma-call-'er links after-the-jump.

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In late November, during a closely watched public debate, the Senate voted by a wide, bi-partisan margin to ban indefinite detention of American citizens. But now that the legislative process has moved behind closed doors, it's a completely different story.

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Follow Us on Micropublishing

December 10, 2012 - by David Moore

I spend a fair amount of time on the Twitter micropublishing service, sharing links - to follow along, just click "subscribe" in the left-hand sidebar: 

- #opengov list - 125 members, mostly gov't transparency & civic engagement & non-profit news & innovation. E.g. @digiphile.

political science list - 52 members, more manageable, hopefully-quality political analysis & D.C. watchdogging. E.g. 'Up with Chris Hayes'.

federal budget list - 15 members, mostly realitybased economics & media-discourse-correctives. E.g. Dean Baker

- more lists - including PPF'ers, Congress WatchersSunlightersKnight Foundation-ers, and especially Wonkblog-ers, so so vital.

...happy to subscribe to suggested lists, get at me, @ppolitics. Click through for more.

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The Week Ahead in Congress

November 13, 2012 - by Donny Shaw

Today is day one of the lame duck -- that biennial tradition in which Congress, including dozens of lawmakers who were just given the boot by voters, come back into session one more time to try and finish up the year’s work. Lame duck sessions are notorious for producing results that are satisfying to basically no one. There’s no reason to expect anything different this time around.

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This Weekend, Be Your Own Get-Out-The-Vote Machine

November 2, 2012 - by Donny Shaw

Our friends at Fight for the Future (a.k.a. the group behind the SOPA blackout in January) have built a fantastic app that makes it easy for you to set up your own DIY get-out-the-vote operation. It’s called “Vote With Friends,” and it uses the best recent social research into what gets people to vote to help you apply exactly the right kind of friendly nudge to your on-the-fence friends. Get yourself set up here.

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I'm pleased to have a new blog post up on Philanthropy NY's site, following up on last month's panel discussion on tech tools for a stronger democracy. 

I first invoke friend-of-PPF Chris 'Hayza' Hayes' analysis from his important new book, Twilight of the Elites, on elite failure and the effects of historically-terribly-unbelievably-plummeting public trust in contemporary American political process. (Hayza, pictured at right.)

Please read & share & send me feedback on the post - here's a micropublishing update to handily RT - thank you to Philanthropy NY for the opportunity to build on the issues raised in our event. Click through for more info.

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The team at the Participatory Politics Foundation is very pleased to announce that we've received a charitable grant from the Knight Foundation to take OpenGovernment.org down to the local level as a free & open-source public resource.

We're starting in two Knight Foundation communities over the next six months: Philadelphia, PA; San Jose, CA; as well as a third, Washington, D.C. We're searching for Rails programmers who want to make an impact in #opengov locally!

Our new work with the Knight Foundation is part of their exciting Tech For Engagement initiative, "founded on the ideal that technology has the power to transform our democracy." We're looking forward to extending the popular OpenCongress model of government transparency and civic engagement down to the city & local level - click through for more info.

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Maplight.org -- the amazing money-in-politics website whose data helps fuel the money trail portal on OpenCongress -- has just launched a new Android/iphone app that makes it easy to track the money flowing into the Obama and Romney campaigns. It’s called Politicash 2012, download it to your smart phone from Google Play or the iphone App Store.

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We defeated the censorship bills (SOPA and PIPA) because Congress feared that the internet -- the most powerful social technology mankind has ever seen -- was becoming a new political constituency. Now we need to show them that they were correct to be afraid by demonstrating that the internet votes, and that we will vote them out of office if they try to violate our rights. If members of Congress believe that the millions of people who participated the anti-censorship coalition by calling or emailing their representatives are not going to show up at the polls this November, they will not listen to us the next time we have to step up and defend the internet (and you know there will be a next time).

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Power Tools to Build a Better Democracy, with Chris Hayes

September 10, 2012 - by David Moore

I was pleased to present our work on OpenCongress at a panel discussion at Philanthropy New York:

The 2012 Election with MSNBC's Chris Hayes: Power Tools to Build a Better Democracy

Update, Sept. 18th: video of event has been posted. Chris leads off, I start 21:40 in presenting our work on OC. Here's a micropublishing update you can RT to spread the word. More info after the jump. 

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With cybersecurity legislation stalled in Congress, the Obama Administration is moving forward with an executive order to bypass Congress and give force of law to some of the stalled bill’s provisions. According to Jason Miller at Federal News Radio, one of the few reporters who has seen a copy of the executive order, the Administration’s proposal closely mirrors the Lieberman-Collins “Cybersecurity Act of 2012, including sections designed to encourage information sharing between web companies and the government, closely related to the provisions of the House-passed CISPA bill.

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Akin and the GOP's Abortion Problem

August 23, 2012 - by Donny Shaw

Mitt Romney and other Republicans may be publicly distancing themselves from Rep. Todd Akin’s [R, MO] recent comment on "legitimate" rape, but most congressional Republicans are on the record supporting policies that create similar distinctions in law.

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While the latest version of the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 is better on privacy than CISPA, its House counterpart, it still gives corporations and the federal government broad new powers to monitor internet users, block access to websites and services, and share personal user information without due process. Unless these provisions are removed, the Participatory Politics Foundation (makers of OpenCongress) stand with EFF, Fight for the Future, Free Press and other tech-rights groups in opposing the bill.

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The Senate voted 84-11 on Thursday to begin debate of the latest version of the Lieberman-Collins cybersecurity legislation. The version of the bill they’ll be debating, S.3414, addresses many of the privacy concerns in the original, but it still poses some problems for civil liberties. Here are a few things to watch as the debate progresses.

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