Posts tagged ‘transparency’

March 9, 2012

Senate and House Pass Insider Trading Bill

The Senate passed S. 2038, a bill which prohibits members of Congress, employees of Congress, and other Federal employees  from using nonpublic information derived from their official positions for personal benefit, and for other purposes. The measure requires most federal employees to submit financial disclosure reports within 30 days of trading in stocks and bonds, and prohibits them from trading in companies in which their official acts have an interest. An amendment to the bill prohibits bonuses be given to executives of FannieMae and FreddieMac while those agencies are in conservatorship.

The Senate passed the measure by a vote of 96-3, with Senators Bingaman (D-NM), Burr (R-NC), and Coburn (R-OK) dissenting.

The House passed the same bill by a vote of 417-2, with Republicans John Campbell (CA-48) and Rob Woodall (GA-7) voting nay.

The dissenting voters based their votes on principle, saying that the law was an affront to honest Congressmen, assuming that they would engage in insider trading without evidence. There already exist laws and ethics codes under which they can be prosecuted, given positive evidence.

July 5, 2011

Senate Passes Bill to Reduce Executive Positions Subject to Senate Confirmation

The Senate passed S. 679, the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 by a vote of 79 – 20. Along with reducing the number of minor positions in executive agencies and departments subject to Senate approval, it also sets up a commission to create a standardized vetting process for all Presidential appointees.

The following 20 Senators Ayotte (R-NH),Boozman (R-AR), Burr (R-NC), Chambliss (R-GA), Coats (R-IN), Coburn (R-OK), Crapo (R-ID), DeMint (R-SC), Grassley (R-IA), Hatch (R-UT), Heller (R-NV), Inhofe (R-OK), Isakson (R-GA), Johnson (R-WI), Lee (R-UT), Moran (R-KS), Paul (R-KY), Risch (R-ID), Rubio (R-FL), Vitter (R-LA), voted against the bill primarily because two amendments to it were voted down. S.A.510, rejected by a vote of 41-57, would have retained the position of the Director, Bureau of Justice Statistics subject to Senate confirmation. S.A.499, rejected by a vote of 41 – 57, would have made the positions of White House Czars subject to Senate confirmation, and prohibit funds for salaries and expenses to them.

The measure now proceeds to the House for ratification.

April 18, 2011

House Votes to Consider Ryan Budget Plan

On Friday, April 15th, 2011, the House voted 235-193 to consider and debate Rep. Paul Ryan’s long-term budget proposal, establishing the budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2012 and setting forth appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2013 through 2021.

House Concurrent Resolution 34 is a pro forma measure, meaning that it has no force of law, even if the Senate were to ratify it, which is highly unlikely. It is merely a starting point of debate over the direction of the Federal Budget in the years to come, and for this reason, I will not consider the votes made by House members on this bill in their scores.

January 31, 2011

Senate Rule Waives Reading of Amendments

On Thursday, January 27th, 2011, the US Senate passed Senate Resolution 29 which reads as follows: The reading of an amendment may be waived by a non-debatable motion if it has been submitted at least 72 hours before the motion; and is available in printed or electronic form in the Congressional Record.

The resolution passed by an 85-15 roll call vote with all Democrat and Independent Senators voting for it, and the following Republicans voting against it: Coburn (R-OK), Cornyn (R-TX), Crapo (R-ID), DeMint (R-SC), Ensign (R-NV), Hatch (R-UT), Inhofe (R-OK), Lee (R-UT), Paul (R-KY), Risch (R-ID), Rubio (R-FL), Sessions (R-AL), Thune (R-SD), Toomey (R-PA), and Vitter (R-LA).

This resolution has the effect of limiting public exposure of amendments before they are placed into bills.

January 5, 2011

Legislators Must Cite Constitutional Power to Enact Bills

House Resolution 5 passed 240-191 on a strict party line. The resolution contains a number of housekeeping rules that the current Congress has decided to enact, but the most important is the requirement that a bill’s sponsor shall place a statement in the Congressional Record citing as specifically as practicable the power or powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact the bill or joint resolution.

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