The debt limit is a largely symbolic check on excessive borrowing which in the past has been frequently raised with little to no controversy. Such periodic increases are necessary to keep the government running and paying its bills, regardless of ideology.
However, Congressional Republicans are now demanding that certain conditions must be met in order to win their approval of a debt ceiling increase. They have termed their list of demands Cut, Cap and Balance, and claim it is a necessary measure in order to keep the government debt from spiraling out of control, and thus keep the country functioning.
Yet the Cut, Cap and Balance Act scheduled to reach the House floor this week is anything but necessary to keep the country functioning in its . Rather, it is the crown jewel, the final step of conservatives’ long-pursued “Starve the Beast” strategy to downsize government. It would radically limit the flexibility of the federal government to provide a social safety net, buttress the economy in tough times and respond to great national challenges, now and into the future.
But don’t take my word for it. Check out this week’s 90 Second Summary and decide for yourself:
This week, we examine two proposals that aim to prevent the FCC from establishing or enforcing any rules or regulations on internet service providers. Currently, all bandwidth use must be treated as equal. This standard has long been cherished by activists as a way of ensuring the values of democracy online. Conservatives, however, have begun to question whether or not this regulation goes against free market principles. The two bills we examine, coming out of the House of Representatives, similarly attempt to allow internet service providers (ISP’s) to treat bandwidth use as they see fit.
This week, we look at H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, and discuss how this proposal differs from the long-standing Hyde Amendment. Beyond the “forcible rape” controversy, which is expected to be resolved at the next opportunity to markup the bill, H.R. 3 represents the most aggressive attempt to expand upon the Hyde Amendment since it was first enacted in 1976. That is why we chose to summarize this bill as it compares to Hyde (if you need more info about the Hyde Amendment, you can find a link to learn more at the bottom of the page).
And this week’s episode comes with a bonus video! David Waldman, the Editor in Chief of Congress Matters and our own Public Affairs Director, speaks in depth about the dangerous precedent that hides in H.R. 3. You can find that video below.
Lastly, in order to properly thank our sponsor without digging into the precious 90 seconds we have to summarize complicated pieces of legislation and other policy proposals, we have added a little bumper time. But we guarantee that every bit of summary fits into 90 seconds, and we introduced a countdown clock to prove it.
We’re back with the Season 2 Premiere of 90 Second Summaries! This season will have double the suspense, double the hilarity, and it just might move you to tears… Okay, not really. Our 90 Second Summaries will be what they always were, a clean and simple set of legislative summaries designed to help folks on Main Street keep up.
To kick off the new season, we are going to roll out a couple summaries of the more interesting provisions of the new Adopting Rules Package of the 112th Congress (then we will take a couple weeks off to evaluate new legislation before us). This week, we are looking at the transparency provisions of the new rules. These provisions are important to understand, if only because it will require pressure to ensure that they are followed properly. Without further ado, we present Season 2, Episode 1:
Last week, in part one of our two-part series on filibuster reform, we examined the Constitutional Option to allow majority approval of rules changes. This week, in the 15th and final episode of Season 1,we look at the most prominent package of rules changes discussed to date. Roughly a month ago, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) circulated a “dear colleague” memo outlining a series of changes that are being strongly considered within current Democratic Caucus deliberations.
Enjoy this first season’s finale. It’s been a fun season for us and we’ll be back in January with a whole slate of brand new bills and other policy proposals to summarize!
*Full disclosure: David Waldman, our Public Affairs Director, is an active advisor to the Fix the Senate Now coalition.
We’re nearing the end of our first season and to finish it off we are providing a couple summaries relating to changing the filibuster. Today we look at what is called the “Constitutional Option,” which applies only to the first day of a new session of Congress. This is expected to come up at the beginning of the 112th session.
There are several reasons that we decided upon the Tester Amendment to the Food Safety Bill for episode 12 of 90 Second Summaries. First and foremost, the amendment is a significant one that is essential to understanding this piece of legislation (legislation we summarized in episode 7). Not only is it the most substantial difference between the Senate’s version of the bill and the House’s, but without it the future of the legislation itself would be unclear. Therefore, we think it is important that people understand how this amendment changes the bill.
Another significant influence in our decision was you. When we summarized the Food Safety Bill in episode 7 a number of viewers brought up the issue of protections for small farmers. It was clear to us that this amendment was worthy of a summary.
With 90 Second Summaries, we aim to cover policy items due to receive close attention in the coming weeks and months that are not being properly explained by most of the press corps. As a result, over one third of our episodes cover pieces of legislation that are receiving action or are expected to receive action during this lame duck session of Congress. We did not hit every hot topic on the board, but we got to a good number of them. Without further ado, here’s a roundup of the bills we covered that you should know about as the lame duck session unfolds:
For Episode 7, we look ahead to next month’s lame duck session and preview a bill likely to be examined in the Senate in the first week back. The “food safety bill” enjoys strong bipartisan support and is likely to receive over 90 Senate votes if it gets that far, but is being blocked from consideration by Sen. Coburn for budgetary reasons.
Its fate at this point will be determined almost entirely by the amount of floor time Democratic leaders are willing to spend on it. But in case you’d like to nudge them one way or the other and want to learn more beforehand, here’s the skinny on S. 510, The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.