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January 27, 2007

House honors gay rights 418-0

In their most recent weekly update, the Religious Freedom Coalition pointed out something that was missed earlier this month:

The "House passed a resolution for Martin Luther King Day specifically praising his wife, Coretta King, for her advocacy of 'gay rights.' This was the first time that I know of that Congress has congratulated anyone in a resolution for working for 'gay rights.'"

Apparently no one noticed or was bothered by this mention as the resolution passed 418-0.

RFC concluded, "Considering that Dr. Martin Luther King was a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it was wholly inappropriate."

January 22, 2007

Another Social Security Commission

On the heels of all the commissions in Washington, CQ Today is reporting today that Sens. Feinstein and Domenici are proposing another:
Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Pete V. Domenici, R-N.M., said their proposed commission differs from others in that it is a bipartisan idea and the panel would be permanent. It would recommend changes to Social Security and Medicare to keep the programs solvent one year after it was created, and then every five years thereafter.

The general idea, however, is an old one. Creating an independent, bipartisan entitlement commission reflects the widespread belief that the changes needed to ensure the permanent solvency of Medicare and Social Security are too politically dangerous for lawmakers to propose on their own.

Neither program can meet its financial obligations without cuts in benefits, increases in taxes, enormous deficit spending, or some combination.
Deeper Inside the Mountain will post a link to the legislation as it becomes available.

Pro-Life Events Today

Roe v. Wade: 12,418 Days Ago

Pro-Life events today include:

January 21, 2007

Senate First on Embryo Research

"Democratic congressional leaders have decided on a parliamentary strategy that will give the Senate first crack at overriding an expected presidential veto of a bill expanding embryonic stem cell research."

"Rather than simply clear the House bill, Democratic leaders want the Senate to pass its own. The House could then pass that measure or go to conference. Either way, the final bill would be returned to the Senate first if Bush vetoed it."

(CQ Today Midday Update, Jan. 19, 2007)

Specter Speeches

Recent Trip to India, Syria, and Israel
Mr. President, I have sought recognition to report on the recent trip I made from December 13 to December 30 to India, Syria, and Israel. The trip to India was a revelation to me--to see the vast economic progress that this gigantic nation of 1.1 billion people has made. For a long time, the nation of India resisted foreign investment...

Pro Bono Representation For Guantanamo Detainees
Mr. President, I note another Senator in the Chamber waiting to speak, so I will be relatively brief in comments on one other subject. I note that an official in the Department of Justice has challenged the attorneys who have been doing pro bono work for detainees at Guantanamo, raising an issue as to whether that representation is proper...

Senate Legislation: Making You Think

Think

S. 295 - Sen. Mary Landrieu [D-LA]
A bill to establish a servitude and emancipation archival research clearinghouse in the National Archives.

Education

S. 301 - Sen. Hillary Clinton [D-NY]
A bill to provide higher education assistance for nontraditional students, and for other purposes.

Commission

S. 304 - Sen. George Voinovich [R-OH]
A bill to establish a commission to develop legislation designed to reform tax policy and entitlement benefit programs and to ensure a sound fiscal future for the United States, and for other purposes.

S. 328 - Sen. Robert Menéndez [D-NJ]
A bill to ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.

Senate Legislation: Energy, Technology

Energy, Global Warming

S. 280 - Sen. Joseph Lieberman [I-CT] - Statements
A bill to provide for a program to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by establishing a market-driven system of greenhouse gas tradeable allowances, to support the deployment of new climate change-related technologies, and to ensure benefits to consumers from the trading in such allowances, and for other purposes.

S. 298 - Sen. Lisa Murkowski [R-AK]
A bill to provide incentives for renewable energy production, to increase fuel economy standards for automobiles, and to provide tax incentives for renewable energy production.

S. 309 - Sen. Bernard Sanders [I-VT]
A bill to amend the Clean Air Act to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, and for other purposes.

S. 317 - Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-CA]
A bill to amend the Clean Air Act to establish a program to regulate the emission of greenhouse gases from electric utilities.

S. 339 - Sen. Evan Bayh [D-IN]
A bill to promote the national security and stability of the United States economy by reducing the dependence of the United States on oil through the use of alternative fuels and new technology, and for other purposes.

S.Res. 30 - Sen. Joseph Biden [D-DE]
A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the need for the United States to address global climate change through the negotiation of fair and effective international commitments.

Technology

S. 315 - Sen. John Warner [R-VA]
A bill to establish a digital and wireless network technology program, and for other purposes..

S. 337 - Sen. John Sununu [R-NH]
A bill to require the FCC to issue a final order regarding white spaces, and for other purposes.

Copyright Office
  • S. 256 - Perform Act of 2007 - To harmonize rate setting standards for copyright licenses under sections 112 and 114 of title 17, United States Code, and for other purposes.
  • S. 258 - To clarify provisions relating to statutory copyright licenses for satellite carriers.

Senate Legislation: Foreign Policy, Trade

Middle East

S. 308 - Sen. Christopher Dodd [D-CT]
A bill to prohibit an escalation in United States military forces in Iraq without prior authorization by Congress.

S.Con.Res. 2 - Sen. Joseph Biden [D-DE]
A concurrent resolution expressing the bipartisan resolution on Iraq.

S.Res. 34 - Sen. John Kerry [D-MA]
A resolution calling for the strengthening of the efforts of the United States to defeat the Taliban and terrorist networks in Afghanistan.

Trade

S.Res. 33 - Sen. Richard Lugar [R-IN]
A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the United States should expand its relationship with the Republic of Georgia by commencing negotiations to enter into a free trade agreement.

Senate Legislation: Federal Policy

Health Care

S. 334 - Sen. Ron Wyden [D-OR] - FRC Comment
A bill to provide affordable, guaranteed private health coverage that will make Americans healthier and can never be taken away.

Social Security

S. 302 - Sen. David Vitter [R-LA]
A bill to establish a procedure to safeguard the Social Security Trust Funds.

Immigration

S. 330 - Sen. John Isakson [R-GA]
A bill to authorize secure borders and comprehensive immigration reform, and for other purposes.

Independent Government

S. 310 - Sen. Daniel Akaka [D-HI]
A bill to express the policy of the United States regarding the United States relationship with Native Hawaiians and to provide a process for the recognition by the United States of the Native Hawaiian governing entity.

House Legislation: Making You Think

H.R. 493 - Rep. Louise Slaughter [D-NY]
To prohibit discrimination on the basis of genetic information with respect to health insurance and employment.

H.R. 542 - Rep. Hilda Solis [D-CA]
To require the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide mental health services in languages other than English, as needed, for veterans with limited English proficiency, and for other purposes.

H.R. 555 - Rep. Bobby Rush [D-IL]
To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to require the Federal Communications Commission to prescribe rules regulating inmate telephone service rates.

H.Con.Res. 36 - Rep. Thomas Tancredo [R-CO]
Recognizing the importance of Western civilization.

H.Res. 79 - Rep. John Gingrey [R-GA]
Recognizing the establishment of Hunters for the Hungry programs across the United States and the contributions of those programs efforts to decrease hunger and help feed those in need.

H.Con.Res. 34 - Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson [D-TX]
Honoring the life of Percy Lavon Julian, a pioneer in the field of organic chemistry research and development and the first and only African American chemist to be inducted into the National Academy of Sciences.

H.Con.Res. 37 - Rep. Thomas Tancredo [R-CO]
Expressing the sense of Congress with regard to pardoning Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.

House Legislation: IRS, Elections

IRS

H.R. 510 - Rep. Robert Goodlatte [R-VA]
To terminate the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

H.R. 549 - Rep. David Camp [R-MI]
To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to increase, extend, and make permanent the above-the-line deduction for certain expenses of elementary and secondary school teachers.

Elections

H.R. 481 - Rep. John Doolittle [R-CA]
Federal Election Integrity Act of 2007

H.R. 484 - Rep. John Doolittle [R-CA]
Citizen Legislature and Political Freedom Act

H.R. 486 - Rep. John Gingrey [R-GA]
Leadership PAC Reform Act of 2007

H.R. 492 - Rep. Dana Rohrabacher [R-CA]
To restore the Federal electoral rights of the residents of the District of Columbia, and for other purposes.

House Legislation: Energy, Transportation

Energy

H.R. 498 - Rep. Albert Wynn [D-MD]
To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the oil and gas tax subsidies enacted in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and for other purposes.

H.R. 539 - Rep. Allyson Schwartz [D-PA]
To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to increase and extend the energy efficient commercial buildings deduction.

H.R. 559 - Rep. William Delahunt [D-MA]
To promote renewable fuel and energy security of the United States, and for other purposes.

H.R. 589 - Rep. Jay Inslee [D-WA]
To promote the development and use of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and for other purposes.

H.R. 586 - Rep. Maurice Hinchey [D-NY]
To restore fairness in the provision of incentives for oil and gas production, and for other purposes.

Transportation

H.R. 534 - Rep. Stephen Lynch [D-MA]
To provide for the security and safety of rail and rail transit transportation systems, and for other purposes.

H.R. 587 - Rep. Anthony Weiner [D-NY]
To improve the safe operation of aircraft.

House Legislation: Foreign Policy

Iran

H.Con.Res. 33 - Rep. Peter DeFazio [D-OR]
Expressing the sense of Congress that the President should not initiate military action against Iran without first obtaining authorization from Congress.

Trade

H.R. 548 - Rep. Peter DeFazio [D-OR]
To establish a Congressional Trade Office.

H.R. 571 - Rep. Thomas Tancredo [R-CO]
To require additional tariffs be imposed on products of any non-market economy country until the President certifies to the Congress that the country is a market economy country, and to direct the Secretary of the Treasury to deposit the amounts generated from those tariffs into the Social Security trust funds.

House Legislation: Debt

H.R. 472 - Rep. Howard McKeon [R-CA]
To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to address the issues of college affordability and transparency.

H.R. 480 - Rep. John Doolittle [R-CA]
To amend the Truth in Lending Act to prohibit issuance of residential mortgages to any individual who lacks a Social Security account number.

H.R. 500 - Rep. Nathan Deal [R-GA]
To provide that pay for Members of Congress be reduced following any fiscal year in which there is a Federal deficit.

H.R. 527 - Rep. John Larson [D-CT]
To help American families save, invest, and build a better future, and for other purposes.

H.R. 568 - Rep. Jim Matheson [D-UT]
To amend section 255 of the National Housing Act to remove the limitation on the number of reverse mortgages that may be insured under the FHA mortgage insurance program for such mortgages.

H.R. 581 - Rep. Marsha Blackburn [R-TN]
To amend title II of the Social Security Act to establish a Social Security Surplus Protection Account in the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund to hold the Social Security surplus.

H.R. 595 - Rep. Mark Udall [D-CO]
To provide for expedited rescissions of budget authority.

H.R. 598 - Rep. David Wu [D-OR]
To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the limitations on the maximum amount of the deduction of interest on education loans.

H.R. 597 - Rep. David Wu [D-OR]
To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require institutions of higher education to enter into agreements with private for-profit organizations for the provision of work-study employment.

January 20, 2007

House Legislation: Proposed Commissions

H.R. 473 - Rep. Frank Wolf [R-VA]
To establish a commission to develop legislation designed to reform tax policy and entitlement benefit programs and ensure a sound fiscal future for the United States, and for other purposes.

H.R. 489 - Rep. Patrick Mchenry [R-NC]
To establish a commission to develop legislation designed to reform entitlement benefit programs and ensure a sound fiscal future for the United States, and for other purposes..

H.R. 515 - Rep. Jim Cooper [D-TN]
To establish a commission on corporate entitlement reform.

H.R. 533 - Rep. Stephen Lynch [D-MA]
To establish the Commission on Iraqi Transition.

H.R. 537 - Rep. Kendrick Meek [D-FL]
To establish a bipartisan commission on insurance reform.

H.R. 541 - Rep. Brad Sherman [D-CA]
To establish the Commission on Freedom of Information Act Processing Delays.

H.R. 543 - Rep. John Tanner [D-TN]
To prohibit States from carrying out more than one Congressional redistricting after a decennial census and apportionment, to require States to conduct such redistricting through independent commissions, and for other purposes..

H.R. 572 - Rep. Edolphus Towns [D-NY]
To establish the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Commission.


The Concord Coalition
Improving the Long-term Fiscal Outlook: Does it Take a Commission?

Did we elect representatives, or people to appoint commissioners?

House Legislation: Iraq

H.J.Res. 18 - Rep. John Murtha [D-PA]
To redeploy U.S. forces from Iraq.

H.R. 508 - Rep. Lynn Woolsey [D-CA]
To require United States military disengagement from Iraq, to provide United States assistance for reconstruction and reconciliation in Iraq, and for other purposes..

H.R. 533 - Rep. Stephen Lynch [D-MA]
To establish the Commission on Iraqi Transition.

Proposed Constitutional Amendments

H.J.Res. 16 - Rep. Steve King [R-IA]
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the sixteenth article of amendment.

H.J.Res. 17 - Rep. John Doolittle [R-CA]
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States establishing English as the official language of the United States.

H.J.Res. 19 - Rep. Thomas Tancredo [R-CO]
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to establish English as the official language of the United States.

Senate Floor Speeches

The Intelligence Community's Perspective on Iraq
Sen. Kit Bond

Our Western Hemisphere

Sam Brownback on Iraq

Sen. Samuel Brownback [R-KS]: Mr. President, I thank the leaders for the time this morning.

I recently returned from a trip looking into what is taking place in the war on terrorism. ...

There is a mixture of news to report as to what is taking place in the war on terrorism. There are some very positive things happening, particularly the recent events in Somalia, what the Ethiopians are pushing for, and some very positive things happening in Afghanistan, some difficulties we are still having with Pakistani leadership going after some of the threats on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Northern Iraq is booming, the Kurdish area. Investment is flowing. There are cranes and people are building.

Baghdad is in great difficulty.

I, also, wish to talk about my suggestions for the route forward. I think the President, in his address, was saying he is proposing a route forward, and if others might oppose or have a different view, all I ask is that you put forward a proposal yourself. That is fair. That is what we ought to do. We are all in this, and we need to see the route forward. ...

House Floor Speeches: Israel, Social Security

Rep. Mark Kirk [R-IL]: Madam Speaker, in today's Washington Post, former President Jimmy Carter defended his book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid."

President Carter wrote, " ..... most critics have not seriously disputed or even mentioned the facts ..... "

But after reading the book, I have become a critic and today will only correct the facts that he purports in his book. Regarding our policy towards Israel, there is little room for mistakes, let alone outright misstatements of fact.

For that reason, I want to present to the House eight factual inaccuracies found in President Carter's book. ...


Rep. Mike Pence [R-IN]: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about an issue that is not so much on our agenda in these first 100 hours, but I believe it will encompass much of our focus during the course of the 110th Congress. It has to do with the how and why that we will achieve fundamental entitlement reform.

President Bush and many leaders in the new majority in the House and Senate have spoken of the priority of reforming Social Security and dealing with the extraordinary unfunded obligations of our mandates in future years. The President, to his credit, 2 years ago raised the prospect of fundamental Social Security reform. But the American people rejected the President's call.

And I rise today to speak about what I believe the parameters of that debate should be from the perspective of a conservative in the minority who believes in the principles of limited government. ...

Preparing for the State of the Union

Yes, Congress must pass a resolution!

H.Con.Res. 38: Providing for a joint session of Congress to receive a message from the President.

Branch Relations

Bush Retreats on Use of Executive Power
President Bush's decision to submit his warrantless-surveillance program to the jurisdiction of a special intelligence court represents the latest step back from the expansive interpretation of executive power he has asserted since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

This begs the question: is this an admission the program should have gone through the FISA Court the whole time?

Sen. Leahy spoke about the FISA Program


High Court To Revisit Campaign Finance Law
The Supreme Court agreed yesterday to revisit the landmark 2002 legislation overhauling the nation's campaign finance laws, moving to settle the role of campaign spending by corporations, unions and special interest groups in time for the 2008 presidential primaries.

This follows: WASHINGTON (AP) A panel of federal judges says the government may not block genuine issue advertising during peak election seasons (Thursday, December 21, 2006, 9:51 AM PST).

Economic Planning

Senate Supports Transparency in Tariff Breaks
The Senate joined the House this week by voting to make it easier for the public to track a stealthy form of trade legislation that has delivered hundreds of millions of dollars in tax savings to favored corporations.

It's the Economy
The New York Times says that Fed chief Ben Bernanke testified yesterday about the “danger posed by looming deficits in Social Security and Medicare. ‘The longer we wait, the more severe, the more draconian, the more difficult the adjustment is going to be,’ Mr. Bernanke said…’I think the right time to start is about 10 years ago.’”

While more people have a positive outlook on the economy since 2001, the Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll finds that an increasing number believe free trade has actually hurt the economy. "The fraying pro-trade consensus may give support to newly empowered Democrats in Congress, many of whom want to retreat from the free-trade position established by former President Bill Clinton, political analysts say."

Life in the 110th Congress

Democrats Seek to Avert Abortion Clashes
Eager to avoid a resumption of the culture wars, the new Democratic leaders are trying to tiptoe around the abortion issue by promoting legislation to encourage birth control and assist women who decide to proceed with unwanted pregnancies.

"A Middle Ground for Stem Cells"
At its heart, then, when the biology and politics have been stipulated away, the stem cell debate is not about when human life begins but about whether every human life is equal.

Mainstream Bioethicists Bit Off More Than They Can Chew Attacking Ramesh Ponurru
The mainstream bioethicists are mightily ticked because National Review's Ramesh Ponurru (and others) resist their perceived wisdom on ESCR funding and ethics. But in attacking Ponurru, they bit off more than they can chew. In his usual methodical manner, the NR writer demonstrates that he isn't the one spouting dubious facts.

Last Week in the Senate: S. 1

As of Wednesday Night

Republicans Halt Ethics Legislation
Senate Republicans scuttled broad legislation last night to curtail lobbyists' influence and tighten congressional ethics rules, refusing to let the bill pass without a vote on an unrelated measure that would give President Bush virtual line-item-veto power.

As of Thursday

The Bennett Amendment:

Bill to Treat Bloggers as Lobbyists Defeated
Lawrence Person writes "The attempt to require political bloggers to register as lobbyists previously reported by Slashdot has been stripped out of the lobbying reform bill. The vote was 55 to 43 to defeat the provision. All 48 Republicans, as well as 7 Democrats, voted against requiring bloggers to register; all 43 votes in favor of keeping the registration provision were by Democrats."

Bloggers dodged a bullet in Senate
Mark Fitzgibbons of GrassrootsFreedom.com, a critic of Section 220, is arguing that it would have applied to more than just a subset of bloggers.

Splendor in the Grassroots
A bipartisan coalition in the Senate, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT), was beating back a direct assault on free speech.

FRC: "the Republican minority in the U.S. Senate flexed its political muscle on S. 1, the lobbying reform bill--and not a moment too soon."

Final Passage

Senate Passes Ethics Package
Senate Democrats and Republicans broke a difficult stalemate last night and approved 96 to 2 expansive legislation to curtail the influence of lobbyists, tighten congressional ethics rules and prevent the spouses of senators from lobbying senators and their staffs.

First 100 Hours Conclude

On the Clock: Democrats Close the 'First 100 Hours'
With passage of their energy bill this evening, Democratic leaders of the House of Representatives completed their "first 100 hours" of legislative work. The bill--which passed by a vote of 264-163 and would roll back oil subsidies and invest the money into alternative energy programs--marks the sixth of six bills House Democrats have promised to send to the Senate.

House Democratic Caucus on the Democratic House Agenda (video)
Speaker of the House Pelosi talks to reporters about the progress of the bills that Democrats want to pass in their first 'hundred hours' of leadership. According to Pelosi's count, it has taken just over 34 hours to pass the first five bills, including a measure approved Wednesday to lower interest rates on some student loans.
Length: 00:25min.

House Passes a Number of Reforms in First 100 Hours of Session
The House of Representatives passed an energy bill Thursday to close the first 100 legislative hours of the new congressional session, which included the passage of a number of bills promised by Democrats in their fall campaigns. A guest discusses the agenda, as well as what's next for this session.

'100 Hours' Agenda Makes Up for Lost Time
Today the clock will run out on the Democrats' "100 Hours" agenda, but, not surprisingly, the new leadership made no time for families. Despite making values issues a priority in their campaigns, liberals jettisoned their pro-family sentiments in their first weeks on the job.

Executive Relations

Conservatives Decry Terror Laws' Impact on Refugees
Conservatives who supported President Bush's reelection have joined liberal groups in expressing outrage over his administration's broad use of anti-terrorism laws to reject asylum for thousands of people seeking refuge from religious, ethnic and political persecution.

The Bush Agenda
The White House yesterday responded to a New York Daily News report that Bush, in a signing statement just before the holidays, asserted government authority to open Americans' mail without a warrant. White House spokesman Tony "Snow said Bush was simply reiterating authority the government already has under the law... Snow did not say what emergency circumstances might warrant inspections of the mail."

Bush Warned About Mail-Opening Authority
President Bush signed a little-noticed statement last month asserting the authority to open U.S. mail without judicial warrants in emergencies or foreign intelligence cases, prompting warnings yesterday from Democrats and privacy advocates that the administration is attempting to circumvent legal restrictions on its powers.

State of the Union Preview

The Bush/GOP Agenda
The Washington Times also discusses the new audience Bush will face. "For the first time, he will address a Democratic majority in the joint chamber. Behind him, right next to Vice President Dick Cheney, will be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. This scenario has influenced the speech, which will seek to enunciate issues on which Republicans and Democrats can agree."

The Bush Agenda
The London Observer reports that, per British officials, Bush is “preparing to make a historic shift on his position on global warming” in his State of the Union. Bush and Blair held private talks on climate change before Christmas, and there is a feeling that the US President will now agree a cap on emissions in the US, meaning that, for the first time, American industry and consumers would be expected to start conserving energy and curbing pollution.

Last Week in the House

House Votes to Reduce Rates on Student Loans
The House overwhelmingly approved a bill yesterday that is designed to cut interest rates on college loans, creating a plan that potentially could save students $2,300 over the course of a loan. But the reduction in rates would be phased in and would not take full effect until 2011.

Energy Tax Increases Bill Today
Today, the House will consider the CLEAN Energy Act (H.R. 6), which has been depicted as repealing special subsidies for “big” oil and redirecting the money to alternative energy sources. Both depictions are false.

House Votes To Reshape Page Board
The House yesterday unanimously voted to overhaul the board supervising its teenage pages, responding to a scandal that helped Democrats win control of Congress.

H.R. 475 - House Page Board Revision Act - Passed 416-0

House votes to lift reverse mortgage cap for FHA
The U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to waive a cap on the number of reverse mortgages that a federal housing agency may insure for older Americans who want to turn their home equity into cash. Rep. Jim Matheson, Democrat of Utah, sponsored the bill.

H.R. 6: Motion to Recommit With Instructions

As printed on page H726 in the Record:
Mr. McCrery moves to recommit the bill (H.R. 6) to the Committee on Ways and Means, the Committee on Natural Resources, the Committee on the Budget, and the Committee on Rules with instructions that each Committee report the same back to the House after the Committee holds hearings on, and considers, the bill.
This motion failed 194-232, with 8 not voting.

H.R. 5: Motion to Recommit With Instructions

As printed on pages H628, H629 in the Record:
Mr. McKeon moves to recommit the bill H.R. 5 to the Committee on Education and Labor with instructions to report the same back to the House forthwith with the following amendment:

At the end of the bill, add the following new section:

SEC. __. BENEFITS CONTINGENT ON INCOME OR MILITARY SERVICE.

(a) Eligibility for Reduced Rates.--Notwithstanding the amendments made by section 2 of this Act, a borrower shall not be eligible for a reduced interest rate under the amendments made by such section for any year during the repayment period of the loan unless--

(1) the borrower demonstrates, in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary, that the borrower's adjusted gross income for the most recently preceding year was less than $65,000; or

(2) the borrower, during any part of that year--

(A) is serving on active duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency (as such term is defined in section 481(d)(4) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 188(d)(4)); or

(B) is performing qualifying National Guard duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency (as such term is defined in section 481(d)(5) of such Act (20 U.S.C. 188(d)(5)).

(b) Income Verification.--In prescribing regulations for purposes of subsection (a)(1), the Secretary shall provide methods for verifying the adjusted gross income of a borrower that are, as nearly as practical, identical to the methods used to determine adjusted gross income and to verify that income for borrowers of income contingent loans under section 455(e) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1087e(e)).

This motion failed 186-241, 8 not voting.

Notable CRS Reports

110th Congress

Membership of the 110th Congress: A Profile

Disclosure, Reform

Grassroots Lobbying: Constitutionality of Disclosure Requirements

Lobbying Disclosure: Themes and Issues, 110th Congress

Taxes, Spending

The Alternative Minimum Tax for Individuals: Legislative Initiatives in the 110th Congress

Major Tax Issues in the 110th Congress

Trends in U.S. Global AIDS Spending: FY2000-FY2007

The Federal Budget: Sources of the Movement from Surplus to Deficit

Technology

Copyright Protection of Digital Television: The Broadcast Video Flag

Life

\"Partial-Birth\" Abortion and the 2006 Term of the U.S. Supreme Court

Debt

Alternative Mortgages: Risks to Consumers and Lenders in the Current Housing Cycle

Immigration

The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S. 2611): Potential Labor Market Effects of the Guest Worker Program

Domestic Policy

Previewing a 2007 Farm Bill

Prescription Drugs

Pharmaceutical Costs: An International Comparison of Government Policies

Pharmaceutical Costs: A Comparison of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Medicaid, and Medicare Policies

International

Iran: Profile and Statements of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The WTO, Intellectual Property Rights, and the Access to Medicines Controversy

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW): Congressional Issues

Global Warming

Climate Change: Design Approaches for a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program

Trade

Trade Promotion Authority and Fast-Track Negotiating Authority for Trade Agreements: Chronology of Major Votes

From Open CRS Network

January 17, 2007

Fix the Deficit: Fine the Bloggers!

Marketing guru Seth Godin points out some interesting stats about online activism. From the Pew Study (PDF):
A new online political elite is emerging as 23% of campaign internet users (or 11% of internet users and 7% of the entire U.S. population) became online political activists.
That breaks down as:
  • 8% of campaign internet users posted their own political commentary to a
    newsgroup, website or blog.
  • 13% of them forwarded or posted someone else’s political commentary.
  • 1% of them created political audio or video recordings.
  • 8% of them forwarded or posted someone else’s political audio or video
    recordings.
That first 8% is especially interesting. How many people is that exactly?
  • Campaign Internet Users: 14 million (as cited in the report)
  • User-generated commentary: 4.9 million users (8% of 23%, or 34% of 14 million)
Let's play with that number for a minute in light of S. 1 being on the Senate floor this week.

Section 220 of S. 1 says that anyone who has any of their own advertising on their blog and is engaged in "voluntary efforts" to "communicate their own views on an issue to Federal officials or to encourage other members of the general public to do the same" must register as a lobbyist.

Section 116 of S. 1 stipulates an "Increased Penalty For Failure To Comply With Lobbying Disclosure Requirements" of $100,000. Senator Vitter offered, and the Senate passed, an amendment that increased that number to $200,000.

So, of those 4.9 million online political grassroots lobbyists, if we assume for a minute that none of them registered, and they all ran afoul of the registration requirement and had to pay $200k, that would generate $973 billion in new federal revenue.

The deficit would be gone for the next two years! That wouldn't wipe out the national debt though. It would, as of today, account for knocking of 11.2% of it!


Or, there's the new criminal option for non-compliance instead. The fine increase was Senator Vitter's second amendment to S. 1. His first amendment established "criminal penalties" for "failing to file or report certain information required to be reported," one of the potential consequences of which is being "imprisoned for not more than 1 year."


The good news is Senator Bennett plans to offer an amendment to strike Section 220 from S. 1. Bloggers would be wise to contact Capitol Hill (202-224-3121) and urge both their Senators to vote for the Bennett Amendment to S. 1.

That could come up as early as Friday, or else early next week. Stay tuned here for updates.

Blue Dog Coalition

A House Floor Discussion of and by Blue Dogs

Section 220 and Bloggers

The realities of S. 1, Section 220 are now hitting the mainstream blogging world with this post on Slashdot.

The original press release quoted on slashdot actually misquotes the text of the bill. From the press release:
Section 220 of S. 1, the lobbying reform bill currently before the Senate, would require grassroots causes, even bloggers, who communicate to 500 or more members of the public on policy matters, to register and report quarterly to Congress.
More than a few slashdot readers are interpreting that to mean a blog must have a readership of at least 500. Section 220 doesn't say that. It says:
PAID ATTEMPT TO INFLUENCE THE GENERAL PUBLIC OR SEGMENTS THEREOF- The term `paid attempt to influence the general public or segments thereof' does not include an attempt to influence directed at less than 500 members of the general public.
Who "directs" their blog posts at less than 500 people? Under this language, the actual size of readership is irrelevant.

Other readers have objected at the stipulation that the blogger must be paid. How many bloggers have AdSense or other such programs on their sites? Under this bill that would qualify them as paid lobbyists who must register. There is no minimum dollar threshold.

Four years of blogging, and Google has less than $30 on my AdSense account. I haven't seen any of that yet, but under this law, I would have to register.

Another Slashdotter wrote that this "applies to astroturf operations, not bloggers." I refer to Section 220's definition:
GRASSROOTS LOBBYING- The term `grassroots lobbying' means the voluntary efforts of members of the general public to communicate their own views on an issue to Federal officials or to encourage other members of the general public to do the same.
Last I checked, Bloggers considered themselves a "member of the general public" and their readers as "other members of the general public." Section 220 says they are now engaged in grassroots lobbying and must register.

Signs of Hope

One Slashdot commenter made a good point:
"Lobbyists" are the guys who attempt to persuade politicians directly. This is about persuading voters. Shouldn't there be a difference?
Yes, there should. That's why Section 220 on Grassroots Lobbying should not be in this bill. What business does Congress have regulating how people speak to other people about them? None. As another reader said:
You can't regulate a right, it is a right.
Organizations' positions on Section 220:
  • American Civil Liberties Union: opposed
  • National Right to Life: opposed
How often do they agree?!

Bennett Amendment

Senator Bennett has filed an amendment to strip Section 220 from this bill. That amendment could be voted on as early as Friday.

So, here's a little blogger grassroots lobbying for you:
  • Use the little zip code box to the right of this page to write your senators and urge them to vote for the Bennett Amendment to S. 1.
  • Call the Capitol, 202-224-3121, and urge both of your senators to vote for the Bennett Amendment.
Tim
10,818 days

S. 1, Section 220: Grassroots Lobbying

From the full text of S. 1: Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007

SEC. 220. DISCLOSURE OF PAID EFFORTS TO STIMULATE GRASSROOTS LOBBYING.

(a) Definitions- Section 3 of the Act (2 U.S.C. 1602) is amended--
      (1) in paragraph (7), by adding at the end of the following: `Lobbying activities include paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying, but do not include grassroots lobbying.'; and
      (2) by adding at the end of the following:
      `(17) GRASSROOTS LOBBYING- The term `grassroots lobbying' means the voluntary efforts of members of the general public to communicate their own views on an issue to Federal officials or to encourage other members of the general public to do the same.
      `(18) PAID EFFORTS TO STIMULATE GRASSROOTS LOBBYING-
        `(A) IN GENERAL- The term `paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying' means any paid attempt in support of lobbying contacts on behalf of a client to influence the general public or segments thereof to contact one or more covered legislative or executive branch officials (or Congress as a whole) to urge such officials (or Congress) to take specific action with respect to a matter described in section 3(8)(A), except that such term does not include any communications by an entity directed to its members, employees, officers, or shareholders.
        `(B) PAID ATTEMPT TO INFLUENCE THE GENERAL PUBLIC OR SEGMENTS THEREOF- The term `paid attempt to influence the general public or segments thereof' does not include an attempt to influence directed at less than 500 members of the general public.
        `(C) REGISTRANT- For purposes of this paragraph, a person or entity is a member of a registrant if the person or entity--
          `(i) pays dues or makes a contribution of more than a nominal amount to the entity;
          `(ii) makes a contribution of more than a nominal amount of time to the entity;
          `(iii) is entitled to participate in the governance of the entity;
          `(iv) is 1 of a limited number of honorary or life members of the entity; or
          `(v) is an employee, officer, director or member of the entity.
      `(19) GRASSROOTS LOBBYING FIRM- The term `grassroots lobbying firm' means a person or entity that--
        `(A) is retained by 1 or more clients to engage in paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying on behalf of such clients; and
        `(B) receives income of, or spends or agrees to spend, an aggregate of $25,000 or more for such efforts in any quarterly period.'.
    (b) Registration- Section 4(a) of the Act (2 U.S.C. 1603(a)) is amended--
      (1) in the flush matter at the end of paragraph (3)(A), by adding at the end the following: `For purposes of clauses (i) and (ii), the term `lobbying activities' shall not include paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying.'; and
      (2) by inserting after paragraph (3) the following:
      `(4) FILING BY GRASSROOTS LOBBYING FIRMS- Not later than 45 days after a grassroots lobbying firm first is retained by a client to engage in paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying, such grassroots lobbying firm shall register with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives.'.
    (c) Separate Itemization of Paid Efforts To Stimulate Grassroots Lobbying- Section 5(b) of the Act (2 U.S.C. 1604(b)) is amended--
      (1) in paragraph (3), by--
        (A) inserting after `total amount of all income' the following: `(including a separate good faith estimate of the total amount of income relating specifically to paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying and, within that amount, a good faith estimate of the total amount specifically relating to paid advertising)'; and
        (B) inserting `or a grassroots lobbying firm' after `lobbying firm';
      (2) in paragraph (4), by inserting after `total expenses' the following: `(including a good faith estimate of the total amount of expenses relating specifically to paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying and, within that total amount, a good faith estimate of the total amount specifically relating to paid advertising)'; and
      (3) by adding at the end the following:
    `Subparagraphs (B) and (C) of paragraph (2) shall not apply with respect to reports relating to paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying activities.'.
    (d) Good Faith Estimates and De Minimis Rules for Paid Efforts To Stimulate Grassroots Lobbying-
      (1) IN GENERAL- Section 5(c) of the Act (2 U.S.C. 1604(c)) is amended to read as follows:
    `(c) Estimates of Income or Expenses- For purposes of this section, the following shall apply:
      `(1) Estimates of income or expenses shall be made as follows:
        `(A) Estimates of amounts in excess of $10,0000 (sic) shall be rounded to the nearest $20,000.
        `(B) In the event income or expenses do not exceed $10,000, the registrant shall include a statement that income or expenses totaled less than $10,000 for the reporting period.
      `(2) Estimates of income or expenses relating specifically to paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying shall be made as follows:
        `(A) Estimates of amounts in excess of $25,000 shall be rounded to the nearest $20,000.
        `(B) In the event income or expenses do not exceed $25,000, the registrant shall include a statement that income or expenses totaled less than $25,000 for the reporting period.'.
      (2) TAX REPORTING- Section 15 of the Act (2 U.S.C. 1610) is amended--
        (A) in subsection (a)--
          (i) in paragraph (1), by striking `and' after the semicolon;
          (ii) in paragraph (2), by striking the period and inserting `; and'; and
          (iii) by adding at the end the following:
      `(3) in lieu of using the definition of paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying in section 3(18), consider as paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying only those activities that are grassroots expenditures as defined in section 4911(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.'; and
        (B) in subsection (b)--
          (i) in paragraph (1), by striking `and' after the semicolon;
          (ii) in paragraph (2), by striking the period and inserting `; and'; and
          (iii) by adding at the end the following:
      `(3) in lieu of using the definition of paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying in section 3(18), consider as paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying only those activities that are grassroots expenditures as defined in section 4911(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.'.

Healthy Americans Act

Sen. Ron Wyden [D-OR]: Mr. President, for almost 13 years, it has been considered politically dangerous to come to the floor of the Senate and describe a fresh approach to fixing health care in America. I am going to do that this morning because I do not believe it is morally right for the Senate to duck on health care any longer.

Full Speech

H.R. 3, S. 5: Noah Markham should have been used for research

Congratulations are in order to Rebekah and Glen Markham on the birth of their son, Noah Markham.

Noah was rescued as a frozen embryo after Katrina.

H.R. 3 would spend federal money to use him and other embryos like him for research.

Did your representative vote for this bill?

The Senate will likely be voting on S. 5 next month.

Senate to finish S. 1 this week

From yesterday's CQ Today Midday Update:
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., hinted he was not sure the effort will prevail. But he insisted the Senate will complete work on the bill (S 1) this week, one way or another.

H.R. 4: Motion to Recommit With Instructions

As printed on page H486 in the Record:
Mr. Barton of Texas moves to recommit the bill H.R. 4 to the Committees on Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce with instructions to report the same back to the House forthwith with the following amendment:

In subsection (i) inserted in section 1860D-11 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395ww-111) by section 2(a) of the bill, redesignate paragraphs (3) and (4) as paragraphs (5) and (6), respectively, and insert after paragraph (2) the following:

``(3) ASSURING CONTINUED ACCESS TO COVERED PART D DRUGS AND PHARMACY NETWORKS.--In carrying out paragraph (1), the Secretary shall not (directly or indirectly) restrict or otherwise limit any of the following:

``(A) ACCESS OF BENEFICIARIES TO COVERED PART D DRUGS.--The access of part D eligible individuals enrolled under prescription drug plans or MA-PD plans to any covered part D drug, such as any oral cancer drug, any antiretroviral therapy for individuals with the human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), any drug for a mental health illness, any drug to treat a neurological disorder (such as Alzheimer's disease or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), or any immuno-suppressant drug to safeguard organ transplants.

``(B) ACCESS OF BENEFICIARIES TO NETWORKS OF CHAIN AND COMMUNITY PHARMACIES.--The access of such individuals enrolled under such plans to networks of chain and community pharmacies that provide convenient and timely delivery of covered part D drugs, whether or not such restriction or limitation is in the form of restricting delivery of such drugs to mail order, imposing increased cost-sharing, restricting the quantities of such drugs to be dispensed, or lowering the dispensing fees paid to such pharmacies.

``(4) PROTECTION AGAINST INCREASING DRUG PRICES FOR VETERANS.--In carrying out paragraph (1), the Secretary shall not thereby increase prices for prescription drugs for any identifiable group of citizens of the United States.''.

This motion failed 196-229, 10 not voting

H.R. 3: Motion to Recommit With Instructions

As printed on pages H389, H390 of the Record:
Mr. Burgess moves to recommit the bill (H.R. 3) to the Committee on Energy and Commerce with instructions to report the same back to the House forthwith with the following amendment:

Page 4, line 11, strike the close quotation marks and the period at the end and insert the following:

``(e) Preventing Federal Support for Human Cloning.--

``(1) PROHIBITION.--In conducting or supporting research described in subsection (a), the Secretary may not award a grant to, enter into a contract with, or provide any other support to any entity (including any public or private entity and any Federal, State, or local agency) for such research, unless the entity provides assurances satisfactory to the Secretary that--

``(A) the entity has not conducted or supported, and will not conduct or support, any activity described in paragraph (2) during any fiscal year for which the grant, contract, or support is provided; and

``(B) any entity that controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with such entity has not conducted or supported, and will not conduct or support, any activity described in paragraph (2) during any fiscal year for which the grant, contract, or support is provided.

``(2) ACTIVITIES.--The activities described in this paragraph are any research utilizing all or part of human embryonic stem cells from any cloned human.

``(f) Definitions.--In this section:

``(1) The term `asexual reproduction' means reproduction not initiated by the union of oocyte and sperm.

``(2) The term `cloned human' means an organism produced by human cloning.

``(3) The term `human cloning' means human asexual reproduction, accomplished by introducing nuclear material from one or more human somatic cells into a fertilized or unfertilized oocyte whose nuclear material has been removed or inactivated so as to produce a living organism (at any stage of development) that is genetically virtually identical to an existing or previously existing human organism.

``(4) The term `human embryo or embryos' has the meaning given to that term in section 509(b) of the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006 (Pub. L. 109-149; 119 Stat. 2833).

``(5) The term `human embryonic stem cell' means a cell derived from a human embryo or embryos.

``(6) The term `somatic cell' means a diploid cell (having a complete set of chromosomes) obtained or derived from a living or deceased human body at any stage of development.''.

This motion failed 189-238, with 8 not voting

H.R. 2: Motion to Recommit With Instructions

The first motion to recommit with instructions begins on page H298 of the Record and ends on H305.

It was tabled by a vote of 232-197.

The second motion to recommit, as printed on page H306 of the Record:
Mr. McKeon moves to recommit the bill (H.R. 2) to the Committee on Education and Labor with instructions to report the bill back to the House forthwith with the following amendment:

In section 2, redesignate subsection (b) as subsection (c) and insert after subsection (a) the following:

(b) MINIMUM WAGE FOR EMPLOYERS PROVIDING EMPLOYEES CERTAIN HEALTH CARE BENEFITS.—Section 6(a) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 is further amended in subsection (a), by redesignating paragraphs (2) through (5) as paragraphs (3) through (6), respectively and inserting after paragraph (2) the following new paragraph:

‘‘(2) if an employer provides health care benefits to an employee through an employee welfare benefit plan (as defined under section 3(1) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (29 USC 1002(3)), the applicable minimum wage rate paid by such employer to such employee shall be $5.15 an hour;’’.
This motion Failed 144-287, with 4 not voting

H.R. 1: Motion to Recommit With Instructions

As printed on pages H219, H220 of the Record:
Ms. Ros-Lentinen moves to recommit the bill H.R. 1 to the Committee on Foreign Affairs with instructions to report the same back to the House forthwith with the following amendments:

Page 191, after line 22, insert the following:

(a) STATEMENT OF POLICY.—The following shall be the policies of the United States:

(1) The responsibility for ensuring the security of the American people rests exclusively with the Government of the United States and may not be delegated in whole or in part to any international organization, agency, or tribunal or to the government of any other country.

(2) The freedom of the Government of the United States to act as it deems appropriate to ensure the security of the American people may not be limited by, or made dependent upon, the act or lack thereof, by any international organization, agency, or tribunal or by the government of any other country.

(3) The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land and cannot be subordinated to, or superseded by, any act, or lack thereof, by any international organization, agency, or tribunal or by the government of any other country.

(4) In carrying out its responsibility for ensuring the security of the American people, the Government of the United States has sought and should continue to seek to enlist the cooperation and support of international organizations, agencies, and tribunals, including the United Nations and its affiliated organizations and agencies, as well as the governments of other countries; but no act taken by the Government of the United States regarding its responsibility to ensure the security of the American people may be deemed to require authorization, permission, or approval by any international organization, agency, or tribunal or by the government of any other country.

Page 191, line 23, redesignate subsection (a) as subsection (b).

Page 192, strike lines 10 through 12.

Page 192, line 13, redesignate paragraph (3) as paragraph (2).

Page 192, line 15, redesignate paragraph (4) as paragraph (3).

Page 193, strike lines 6 through 9.

Page 193, line 10, redesignate subsection (b) as subsection (c).

Page 193, line 14, redesignate subsection (c) as subsection (d).

Page 193, lines 23 to 24, strike ‘‘paragraph (4) of subsection (a)’’ and insert ‘‘paragraph (3) of subsection (b)’’.

Page 194, lines 2 to 3, strike ‘‘paragraphs (1), (2), (3), and (5) of subsection (a)’’ and insert ‘‘paragraphs (1) and (2) of subsection (b)’’.

Page 194, line 4, redesignate subsection (d) as subsection (e).

Page 194, line 9, strike ‘‘(a)’’ and insert ‘‘(b)’’.
This motion failed 198-230, with 7 not voting

January 16, 2007

Proclamation: Religious Freedom Day

A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America
January 11, 2007

On Religious Freedom Day, we commemorate the passage of the 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, authored by Thomas Jefferson, and we celebrate the First Amendment's protection of religious freedom.

Across the centuries, people have come to America seeking to worship the Almighty freely. Today, our citizens profess many different faiths, and we welcome every religion. Yet people in many countries live without the freedom to worship as they choose and some face persecution for their beliefs. My Administration is working with our friends and allies around the globe to advance common values and spread the blessings of liberty to every corner of the world. Freedom is a gift from the Almighty, written in the heart and soul of every man, woman, and child, and we must continue to promote the importance of religious freedom at home and abroad.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 16, 2007, as Religious Freedom Day. I call on all Americans to reflect on the great blessing of religious liberty, endeavor to preserve this freedom for future generations, and commemorate this day with appropriate events and activities in their schools, places of worship, neighborhoods, and homes.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eleventh day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.

GEORGE W. BUSH

January 15, 2007

Command in Iraq

NBC Nightly News asked an interesting question in it's daily email about tonight's broadcast: "will the Americans be taking orders from the Iraqis, or the other way around?"

Good question!

They said that's one of the "growing questions about just how President Bush's new military plan for Iraq will actually work."

Tim
10,816 days

House Outpacing Senate

Legislative Update

The House is a little more than half way through its first 100 hours program.
The Senate is off to a slower, less hyperactive start.
Congress is off today in celebration of Martin Luther King Day.

Our top priority for prayer this week is the Bennett Amendment to S. 1 (See the first item in the Senate section).
    House of Representatives
    • The First (Partial) Week
    • The First Full Week - Four Bills Passed
    • Next Week
    • Legislation Introduced

    Senate
    • The First 10 Bills
    • Calendar
    • Legislation Introduced
    • Judicial Nominations

    On a Lighter Note
    2007 Calendar

Martin Luther King Day

Wikipedia: Martin Luther King Day

H.Res. 61 - Rep. John Lewis [D-GA]
Observing the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., and encouraging the people of the United States to observe the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and for other purposes.

Sen. Leahy: "Mr. President, on Monday, our Nation honors the life and legacy of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a national hero and man whose words and deeds brought hope and healing to America. We commemorate the timeless values he taught us through his example--the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that ..."

Sen. McConnell: "Madam President, this Monday we will celebrate the life and legacy of one of America's greatest heroes, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King dreamt of an America where, as he so profoundly put it, all of America's children would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. By sharing his dream ..."

Sen. Ensign: "Mr. President, on January 15 we honor the legacy of a man who gave his life in the struggle for equality. Dr. Martin Luther King read the words to our Nation's Declaration of Independence and worked to ensure that they were lived that way: All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights ..."

Update: January 16, House Floor Speeches

CQ Today: ‘AgJobs’ Bill May Not Wait for Broader Immigration Measure

"A bipartisan group of senators claimed today to have the votes necessary to pass stand-alone legislation allowing more foreign agricultural workers to come to the United States.

"They said they would prefer to move their 'AgJobs' measure as part of a broader immigration overhaul. But they are not prepared to wait indefinitely.

"Much of the draft measure, cosponsored by Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California; Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., Larry E. Craig, R-Idaho, and Mel Martinez, R-Fla., was included in last year’s Senate immigration overhaul.

"That measure stalled when the House refused to consider provisions that would have allowed millions of illegal immigrants to earn citizenship over a period of years.

"The draft farm jobs measure would allow more than 1.5 million workers to come into the United States over the next five years. It also would create a pilot program to legalize illegal immigrants who have been working in agriculture during the past two years."

(CQ Today Midday Update, JAN. 10, 2007)


From Immigration Legislation Introduced in the House:

H.R. 371 - Rep. Howard Berman [D-CA]
To improve agricultural job opportunities, benefits, and security for aliens in the United States, and for other purposes.

CQ Today: Chastened Reid Agrees to Broader Earmarks Disclosure

"After losing a critical floor vote yesterday that he was unable to reverse, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., found the spirit of bipartisan compromise more to his liking this morning.

"Reid agreed to embrace an amendment offered by Jim DeMint, R-S.C., to a pending ethics and lobbying overhaul, with a few modifications. The amendment would expand the types of member earmarks that would be subject to new disclosure rules.

"It essentially mirrors the disclosure provisions adopted by the House last week.

"DeMint said 95 percent of all earmarks would have escaped disclosure under the Senate bill. His amendment would close those loopholes.

"Reid admitted today that he was caught off guard when nine Democrats and independent Joseph I. Lieberman voted against his motion to table, or kill, the DeMint amendment. His effort failed, 46-51.

"'Yesterday was a rather difficult day, as some days are,' he said. 'We tend to get in a hurry around here sometimes when we shouldn’t be. Personally, for the majority, we probably could have done a little better job.'"

(CQ Today Midday Update, JAN. 12, 2007)

CQ Today: CBO Preparing Reports on Budget Baseline, Unauthorized Spending

"The Congressional Budget Office plans to release a new Budget and Economic Outlook report Jan. 24, the morning after President Bush’s State of the Union Address.

"CBO’s report establishes baseline spending and revenue projections for the next 10 years. Using existing spending and tax law, it projects the expected path of federal revenues and outlays and resulting budget deficits or surpluses.

"Even before that report is released, CBO will issue one that lists all currently funded programs whose authorizations have expired, as well as programs whose authorizations will expire in the coming year. It is intended to help Congress determine what authorizing legislation should be enacted before considering appropriations bills."

CBO Reports: Unauthorized Appropriations and Expiring Authorizations
"Generally, federal programs are supposed to be authorized before they receive appropriations, but Congress regularly ignores that requirement. Under law, this report must be issued by Jan. 15 each year."

(CQ Today Midday Update, JAN. 9, 2007)


Introduced Legislation:

S. 91 - Sen. John Ensign [R-NV]
A bill to require the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation to use dynamic economic modeling in addition to static economic modeling in the preparation of budgetary estimates of proposed changes in Federal revenue law.

CQ Today: Taxpayers’ Advocate Lists AMT, Tax Gap as Top Problems

"National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson, in her annual report to Congress, cited the alternative minimum tax (AMT) as the most serious problem facing taxpayers today.

"Olson, who works independently within the IRS, listed the so-called tax gap between taxes owed and revenue collected as the No. 2 problem."

"Democrats heading the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have targeted both issues, but repealing the AMT would cost as much as $1 trillion over 10 years. That could prove an insurmountable obstacle" due to the new PAYGO rules.

(CQ Today Midday Update, JAN. 9, 2007)

January 14, 2007

Technology Policy

Take Action: Defend Your Right to Record Off the Radio!

PERFORM Act = DRM Mandate

Net Neutrality to Win Big on Capitol Hill?
The New York Times has weighed in again on Net Neutrality, this time with a hopeful message of change in the near future due to the shift of power in the House and Senate. The opinion piece takes a look at Ron Wyden in the Senate and Edward Markey in the House who have both promised to lead the charge to pass a net neutrality bill in the coming months. Lessig, on the other hand, has a somewhat more cynical view of the new Congress.

Deleting Online Predators Act
The Deleting Online Predators Act "was proposed during the height of last year's moral panic around the issue of child safety and sites like MySpace. The legislation would have banned the use of commercial social networking websites in US schools and libraries which receive federal IT funding — therefore undermining much of the pioneering work being done by educators in the e-learning 2.0 space."

XXX Top Level Domain May Still See Use
The contract between ICANN & ICM Registry has just been revised for procedures on using the .XXX TLD. ICM is saying that the domain should be readily available for registration as early as this summer.

Sununu Sets Aim on Broadcast Flag Again
Flag waver writes "Senator John Sununu (R-NH) will introduce legislation that will prevent the FCC from creating technology mandates for the consumer electronics industry. As a result, the FCC would be hamstrung in its efforts to revive the broadcast flag. '"The FCC seems to be under the belief that it should occasionally impose technology mandates," Sununu said in a statement. "These misguided requirements distort the marketplace by forcing industry to adopt agency-blessed solutions rather than allow innovative and competitive approaches to develop."' Sen. Sununu previously tried without success to remove the broadcast flag provisions from the massive telecommunications bill that died before reaching the Senate floor during the last Congress."

Senate Bill Again Aims to Restrict Internet Radio
"If you enjoy MP3 or OGG streams of internet radio, it's time to pay attention. This week U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander, Joseph Biden, Dianne Feinstein, and Lindsey Graham decided to reintroduce the 'Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music (PERFORM) Act'. An Ars Technica article explains that PERFORM would restrict our rights to make non-commercial recordings under the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, and require satellite and internet broadcasters to use 'technology to prevent music theft'. That means goodbye to your favorite streaming audio formats, hello DRM. The EFF said pretty much the same when this bill last reared its ugly head in April of 2006. It's too soon to get the text of this year's version (S. 256) online, but it likely to resemble last year's S. 2644."

Bill seeks to curb cell phone taxes
Troubled by what they deemed a "hefty" load of state and local taxes on cell phone bills, four Republican senators have once again called for a temporary ban on certain new fees.

Senator drafting 'broadcast flag' ban
The "broadcast flag," an infamous copy-protection scheme aimed at halting redistribution of over-the-air television content via the Internet, could face new setbacks if a Republican ...

Technology Legislation: in the House; in the Senate

Senate Legislation: Energy, Technology

Internet
    S. 156 - Sen. Ron Wyden [D-OR]
    A bill to make the moratorium on Internet access taxes and multiple and discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce permanent.

    S. 215 - Sen. Byron Dorgan [D-ND]
    A bill to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to ensure net neutrality.
Copyright
    S. 256 - Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-CA]
    A bill to harmonize rate setting standards for copyright licenses under section 112 and 114 of title 17, United States Code, and for other purposes.

    S. 258 - Sen. John Sununu [R-NH]
    A bill to clarify provisions relating to statutory copyright licenses for satellite carriers.
Privacy
    S. 92 - Sen. Ted Stevens [R-AK]
    A bill amend the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit the unlawful acquisition and use of confidential customer proprietary network information, and for other purposes.

    S. 239 - Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-CA]
    A bill to require Federal agencies, and persons engaged in interstate commerce, in possession of data containing sensitive personally identifiable information, to disclose any breach of such information.
Telephone
    S. 140 - Sen. Charles Schumer [D-NY]
    A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the excise tax on telephone and other communications services.

    S. 166 - Sen. John McCain [R-AZ]
    A bill to restrict any State from imposing a new discriminatory tax on cell phone services.

    S. 211 - Sen. Hillary Clinton [D-NY]
    A bill to facilitate nationwide availability of 2-1-1 telephone service for information and referral on human services. volunteer services, and for other purposes.
Television, Video
    S. 49 - Sen. Ted Stevens [R-AK] - Slashdot Discussion
    A bill to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to prevent the carriage of child pornography by video service providers, to protect children from online predators, and to restrict the sale or purchase of children's personal information in interstate commerce.

    S. 93 - Sen. Ted Stevens [R-AK]
    A bill to authorize NTIA to borrow against anticipated receipts of the Digital Television and Public Safety Fund to initiate migration to a national IP-enabled emergency network capable of receiving and responding to all citizen activated emergency communications.

    S. 124 - Sen. Wayne Allard [R-CO]
    A bill to provide certain counties with the ability to receive television broadcast signals of their choice.
Energy
    S. 23 - Sen. Thomas Harkin [D-IA]
    A bill to promote renewable fuel and energy security of the United States, and for other purposes.

    S. 94 - Sen. Ted Stevens [R-AK]
    A bill to protect the welfare of consumers by prohibiting price gouging by merchants with respect to gasoline or petroleum distillates during certain abnormal market disruptions.

    S. 103 - Sen. John Kerry [D-MA]
    A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide that major oil and gas companies will not be eligible for the effective rate reductions enacted in 2004 for domestic manufacturers.

    S. 115 - Sen. Barack Obama [D-IL]
    A bill to suspend royalty relief, to repeal certain provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal certain tax incentives for the oil and gas industry.

    S. 129 - Sen. Wayne Allard [R-CO]
    A bill to study and promote the use of energy-efficient computer servers in the United States.

    S. 133 - Sen. Barack Obama [D-IL]
    A bill to promote the national security and stability of the economy of the United States by reducing the dependence of the United States on oil through the use of alternative fuels and new technology, and for other purposes.

    S. 146 - Sen. Barbara Boxer [D-CA]
    A bill to require the Federal Government to purchase fuel efficient automobiles, and for other purposes.

    S. 154 - Sen. Jim Bunning [R-KY]
    A bill to promote coal-to-liquid fuel activities.

    S. 162 - Sen. Richard Lugar [R-IN]
    A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify the alcohol credit and the alternative fuel credit, to amend the Clean Air Act to promote the installation of fuel pumps for E-85 fuel, to amend title 49 of the United States Code to require the manufacture of dual fueled automobiles, and for other purposes.

    S. 167 - Sen. Barbara Boxer [D-CA]
    A bill to amend the Clean Air Act to require the Secretary of Energy to provide grants to eligible entities to carry out research, development, and demonstration projects of cellulosic ethanol and construct infrastructure that enables retail gas stations to dispense cellulosic ethanol for vehicle fuel to reduce the consumption of petroleum-based fuel.

    S. 193 - Sen. Richard Lugar [R-IN]
    A bill to increase cooperation on energy issues between the United States Government and foreign governments and entities in order to secure the strategic and economic interests of the United States, and for other purposes.
Other
    S. 39 - Sen. Ted Stevens [R-AK]
    A bill to establish a coordinated national ocean exploration program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and for other purposes.

    S. 65 - Sen. James Inhofe [R-OK]
    A bill to modify the age-60 standard for certain pilots and for other purposes.

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