Congressional Digest

CURRENT TOPICS


    Annan Briefs UN Security Council on Syrian Situation

By , Editor,
May 09, 2012
Tags:

Yesterday, former United Nations Secretary-General and current Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States on the Syrian Crisis Kofi Annan gave a report to the UN Security Council  on the rapidly deteriorating situation in Syria. Via a videolink from Geneva, Switzerland, Annan told the Council that the UN may be the “only remaining chance” to stabilize the Middle Eastern country. “There is a profound concern that the country could otherwise descend into full civil war, and the implications of that are quite frightening,” he said. “We cannot allow that to happen.” There are currently 300…

Read more...

    Obama Signs Afghanistan Pact, Sets Terms for Future U.S. Involvement

By , Editor,
May 02, 2012
Tags:

In an unannounced trip to Afghanistan on May 1, President Obama spoke to the troops and to an American television audience, and signed a strategic partnership agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The visit took place on the first anniversary of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan, giving it historical and symbolic significance. The day was the latest milestone in what has been a costly and protracted war marked by surges, setbacks, and some success in stemming the tide of the insurgency and reestablishing Afghan Government control. In June 2011, President Obama announced a gradual drawdown…

Read more...

    Paying for Student Loan Rate Cuts Is Point of Contention

By , Editor,
April 29, 2012
Tags:

Approximately 7.4 million students will see their Federal student loan rates double on July 1 if Congress fails to pass legislation to keep rates at the current 3.4 percent. A law passed in 2007 reduced the interest rate on subsidized Stafford Loans to undergraduate students for four academic years. Unless the interest rate break is continued, the average student will pay an additional $1,000 in interest each year. On his recent visits to universities, President Obama called on Congress to extend the rate cut. Although his presumptive Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, also urged lawmakers to act, the issue has since…

Read more...

    Senate Throws the Postal Service a Lifeline

By , Editor,
April 26, 2012
Tags:

Legislation approved by the Senate on April 25 is aimed at saving the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), which has been losing money daily and plans to make drastic changes if Congress doesn’t act by May 15. Postmaster Patrick Donahue had proposed a series of cost-cutting measures, including eliminating Saturday and overnight delivery and closing up to 3,700 local post offices, mostly in small towns, and replacing them with automated centers operating out of local businesses. (See the February 2012 issue of Congressional Digest, “Saving the U.S. Postal Service.”) Donahue said that he had to cut $22 million in operating costs…

Read more...

    Health Care Reform on Trial – Day 3

By , Editor,
March 28, 2012
Tags:

The Supreme Court wrapped up its third and final day of oral arguments on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act today, as it considered two distinct questions. The first case dealt with how much of the reform law should survive if the Court strikes down the mandate that most Americans must buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Lawyers for the opponents of the law argued that the entire Act must be thrown out. The Obama Administration position is that the prohibition against insurers discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions, as well as insurance rate controls, would be invalidated….

Read more...

    Supreme Court Finishes Day 2 of Health Care Challenges

By , Editor,
March 27, 2012
Tags:

The U.S. Supreme Court has wrapped up two hours of oral arguments on the constitutionality of a key provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the mandate that most Americans must purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. Early analysis is that it was a hard day for Obama Administration Solicitor General Donald Verrilli and proponents of the health care reform law, as conservative justices expressed skepticism about legal justification for the law. Predicting the outcome of cases based on oral arguments, however, is usually a risky game. Today is just the beginning of a long internal debate…

Read more...

    Health Care Reform Before the Court – Day 1

By , Editor,
March 27, 2012
Tags:

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard the first round of oral arguments for cases challenging the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature health care reform legislation. In a way, it was an appetizer before the judicial main course that will be served up the following two days, as the nine justices spent 89 minutes considering whether they should even be considering this case right now at all. At the center of Monday’s discussion was a 19th century law called the Anti-Injunction Act, which prohibits challenges to tax laws until they take effect. The question…

Read more...

    UN Security Council Passes New Syria Resolution

By , Editor,
March 22, 2012
Tags:

On March 21, the UN Security Council unanimously voted to issue a presidential statement calling on the Syrian government and opposition forces to cease hostilities and implement a peace plan proposed by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Annan, who is currently serving as the joint special envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States on the Syrian Crisis, first presented his proposal during a visit to Damascus, Syria, earlier in March. It is comprised of six points: Syria commits to working with Annan to address the legitimate “aspirations and concerns” of the Syrian people. Syria stops fighting…

Read more...

    Fracking is Topic of Hill Hearings

By , Editor,
February 22, 2012
Tags:

The natural gas drilling method called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, was a topic of discussion at recent hearings on the President’s proposed energy budget for Fiscal Year 2013. (For background on this issue, see the March 2012 Congressional Digest, titled “Fracking and Drinking Water Safety.”) On February 15, at a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar noted that the President has requested $45 million for a research and development initiative by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency “aimed at understanding and minimizing potential environmental, health, and safety impacts…

Read more...

    House Passes Line-Item Veto Bill

By , Editor,
February 09, 2012
Tags:

On February 8, the House approved legislation to allow the President to eliminate specific items from appropriations bill ― otherwise known as line-item veto authority. The authority is one that Presidents of both parties have long sought but ultimately failed to obtain.  (See the September 1998 issue of Supreme Court Debates titled  “The Line Item Veto ― The President, the Congress, and the Constitution.”) H.R. 3521, the Expedited Legislative Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act, introduced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan (WI-R) and the panel’s top Democrat, Representative Chris Van Hollen (MD-D), passed the House by a bipartisan…

Read more...
X
Username
Password

Email Address
Email Address Again
Forgot username/password?