Happy Political Clusterf*ck Day (U.S.)! In one corner: the first federal government shutdown since 1996, born of the House GOP/Tea Party faction's crusade to delay, defund, and destroy Obamacare (and the Democratic Senate and President's resolve to not do that). "Continuing resolutions" have ping-ponged between the two houses, fighting over language to cancel healthcare reform (plus a few other items, such as the implementation of Mitt Romney's entire economic agenda). National parks are closed, contractors are hamstrung, and 800,000 federal workers furloughed until Speaker Boehner drops the "Hastert Rule" and passes a bill the other branches can agree to. In the other corner, heedless of the chaos (though not without glitches of its own): the official rollout of the Affordable Care Act and its state insurance exchanges. The portal at Healthcare.gov is your one-stop shop for browsing, comparing, and purchasing standardized, regulated insurance coverage with premium rebates, guaranteed coverage, and expanded Medicaid for the poor (in some states). A crazy day, overall -- but peanuts compared to what might happen if the debt ceiling is breached in 16 days. [more inside]
Landmark health care reform legislation passes senate on a Christmas-eve party line vote. So after a turbulent and contentious legislative process with many sudden reversals and last minute surprises, what's actually in the bill? NPR offers a "Consumer's Guide" to the form the final, reconciled legislation now seems likeliest to take. [more inside]
Members of Congress are thus on notice that minimum due process guarantees under customary international law must not be denied when Congress attempts to articulate what forms of procedure a military commission should adopt.... Such denials are war crimes.Can a vote be a war crime?
NewsFilter: U.S. House strips states right to require food warning labels. The bill, which has never had hearing and is backed by well-connected industry lobbyists, seeks to make labels uniform across the country under the sole authority of the FDA, but it could gut 200 state laws in the process. Thirty-seven state attorneys general oppose losing the ability to require warnings such as California's for mercury in fish (though that particular one may have been saved by a last-minute ammendment). The legislation has not yet been introduced in the Senate.
Senate Blocks Patriot Act Renewal In a 52-47 vote, the Republican majority was unable to obtain the 60 votes necessary to end the bipartisan fillibuster. Roll call is in the title link as well as here, Patriot Act provisions set to expire on 12/31 via CNN.
CNN reports that the House passed HR 4241 this morning by a narrow vote almost entirely along party lines. This is part of the Republican Party's Operation Offset (previously discussed here) designed to cut spending to counter the deficit, growing by leaps and bounds because of Iraq & Katrina (among other things). Now they'll have to work to reconcile it with the Senate version, SR 1932 (voting record here). You may want to Write your representative to let them know how you feel. You might also want to express your displeasure to the two Dems who didn't vote, considering the bill passed by a margin of 2. [Budget Filter]