Congressional Digest

PRO & CON UPDATES


    New Fracking Rules Draw Fire From Both Sides

By , Editor,
May 22, 2013
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New Federal draft rules governing hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” on public and tribal lands are drawing sharp criticisms from both industry and environmental groups. The proposed regulations, released on May 16, include changes designed to alleviate opponents’ objections to an earlier version. Fracking is an extraction process that involves pumping water, chemicals, and sand deep into hard-to-reach rock formations at high pressure to force cracks and release natural gas, allowing it to flow freely to the production well. Now used in over 90 percent of vertical and horizontal oil and gas wells in the United States, the technique is enabling…

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    New Round of Benghazi Hearings on the Hill

By , Editor,
May 09, 2013
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On Wednesday, the House Oversight and Reform Committee, chaired by Representative Darrell Issa (CA-R) held a hearing on the September 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that led to the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. It’s the ninth time a congressional committee has held a hearing investigating the circumstances of the attack and the Obama Administration response in the hours and days that followed. Testifying before the committee were Gregory Hicks, the former deputy chief of mission for Libya; Eric Nordstrom, the regional security officer posted to Libya; and Mark…

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    Congress Prepares to Debate Immigration Reform

By , Editor,
April 09, 2013
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With Congress now back in session after a holiday break, lawmakers appear ready to start debating the details of immigration reform legislation. A bipartisan “gang of eight” senators is on track to introduce a comprehensive bill within the next week, according to Senator Charles Schumer (NY-D), one of its members. The group reportedly has reached agreement on several major provisions, while other somewhat less prominent issues have yet to be resolved. The package is expected to address the following: Pathway to Citizenship In December 2010, Congress rejected the DREAM Act when Republican opposition denied supporters the 60 Senate votes needed…

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    Court Strikes Down Warrantless Use of Drug-Sniffing Dogs Outside Homes

By , Editor,
March 28, 2013
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On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that the use of trained police dogs to sniff around the outside of a suspect’s house without a warrant constitutes an unreasonable search, prohibited by the Fourth Amendment. Although overshadowed by this week’s landmark oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 (which will be covered extensively in the May issue of Supreme Court Debates), the decision in Florida v. Jardines is a noteworthy one. For instance, the case created some strange ideological bedfellows Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas…

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    Senate Moves Ahead on Gun Measures

By , Editor,
March 16, 2013
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The Senate Judiciary Committee has reported to the full Senate four bills intended to reduce gun violence: S. 54, the Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013, introduced by Senator Charles Schumer (NY-D), to make it a Federal crime to serve as a “straw purchaser,” or someone who buys a firearm with the intent of selling it to an individual who cannot pass a background check. S. 146, the School Safety Enhancements Act, introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (CA-D), to provide communities and schools with resources to install classroom locks, lighting, fencing, reinforced doors, and other deterrent measures. The…

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    VAWA Goes to the President’s Desk

By , Editor,
February 28, 2013
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Although lawmakers in Congress may have failed to break the sequestration stalemate before heading home for the weekend on February 28, they did manage to take final action on the long-delayed Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization. By a vote of 286 to 138, the House of Representatives voted to send the Senate-passed bill to the President’s desk. Eighty-seven Republicans joined 199 Democrats in voting for passage. The Senate approved its version on February 12, 78 to 22. The legislation renews a 1994 law that expired in 2011. The original law, written by Vice President Joe Biden when he was…

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    Obama Delivers Fourth State of Union Address to Congress

By , Editor,
February 13, 2013
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Last night, the president stood before a joint session of Congress and delivered the first State of the Union address of his second term. The speech came just three weeks and a day after Obama took the oath of office and gave his inaugural address, and many commentators and officials in the administration predicted the speech would serve as a more detailed counterpart to the earlier speech. Obama delivered as expected, giving an hour-long speech that outlined a wide range of goals and proposals for his second-term. He ended with an emotional appeal for Congress to bring his gun-control proposals…

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    Senate Adopts Modest Filibuster Reforms

By , Editor,
January 28, 2013
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In its first votes of the 113th Congress, the Senate adopted several rule changes designed to make it easier to bring bills and nominations to the floor for a vote. The changes, which were broken into two separate resolutions, were based on a bipartisan agreement reached between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV-D) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY-R) in response to a growing chorus of calls for filibuster reform. It is hoped that the new rules, though modest, will help to some extent to break the legislative logjam that characterized the last Congress and to action on the…

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    President Obama Is Inaugurated to Second Term

By , Editor,
January 21, 2013
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On Monday, President Barack Obama stood before the west steps of the U.S. Capitol building and took the presidential oath of office as part of the 57th presidential inauguration ceremony. Technically, President Obama’s second term began Sunday, when he took the oath at the White House, as the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution mandates that the newly elected president assume office before noon on Jan. 20. With that date falling on a Sunday this year, however, the formal inauguration ceremony was moved to Monday. By taking the oath twice this week, President Obama has now recited the presidential oath…

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    President’s Gun Proposals To Face Mixed Response on Capitol Hill

By , Editor,
January 17, 2013
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At a White House announcement on January 16, President Obama unveiled the Administration’s proposals to curb gun violence in America: 23 Executive actions that the President signed off on immediately, and a number of measures that he will send to Congress next week. The proposals are based on the recommendations of Vice President Joe Biden’s task force on gun safety, formed after the December school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Major components of the President’s package include: A ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Congressional action is required to change the law, and Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA-D) is introducing…

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