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Thank you for listening to Congressional Dish! 

Dec 1, 2012

During another slow week in Congress, Jesse Jackson Jr. resigns, Nydia Velazquez (NY) ignores a subpoena, the Department of Homeland Security gets investigated, the Senate fights about filibusters, and the Trans-Pacific-Partnership is confirmed as real, secret, and scary.

Bills Signed Into Law: - HR 2606: Fast tracks Rockaways gas pipeline for Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Company (Transco) - S 1956: Prohibits airlines from participating in EU cap & trade program. Jesse Jackson Resignation - Hasn't been seen since June and didn't campaign but still won his seat - Is under investigation for allegedly trying to buy Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat in 2008. Nydia Velazquez (NY) sent a letter to Congress saying she is going to ignore a subpoena - No information available on the court case she is involved in or why she is ignoring the subpoena. - Represents Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan, Queens. - Has been serving for 20 years - Top contributor is Goldman Sachs (she's on the financial services committee) - Got the vast majority of her 2012 money from large individual donors (rich people) and secret PACs (almost half a million) - Voted for bailouts and against auditing the Fed HR 5913: Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Accountability Act- passed the House 11/27 - Independent panel to do an assessment of DHS because its creation was and remains high risk. - DHS was a creation of the Bush administration in 2002 - 22 agencies were merged = dysfunctional government - FEMA - issued huge contracts with little to no oversight after Katrina. - TSA - hundreds of employees have been arrested for thefts. - Immigration & Border Patrol- employees arrested for accepting bribes. - Federal protective service - short staffed and not performing their duties sufficiently. - Senate also passed S. 1998: tells DHS to keep financial records for an audit next year HR 6429: STEM Jobs Act- passed the House 11/30 - Legislation backed by Apple, Oracle, Cisco, & Adobe - Makes it easier for foreign students graduating with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math to get visas - Limits the number of visas for regular families - Eliminates the diversity visa program that gives visas to people from more random countries - Won't be become law; Obama administration is opposed Filibuster Change in Senate - Filibuster = Objection that postpones a bill from coming up for a vote. - One strategy is endless debate: Senate rules allow Senators to speak as long as they wish unless 60 Senators vote to shut them up (cloture). - Another strategy is an individual Senator placing a hold; if 60 votes aren't there to over-ride the hold, the bill is blocked from a vote. - Changes to Senate rules can be done by a simple majority but only on the first day of the session in January. - Most likely change: the next Congress might require the blocker to stay on the floor and defend their objection. - 1960's: No Congress had more than 7, 2000's: Avg over 100 in each of the last 3 Congresses Trans Pacific Partnership - A trade deal being crafted in secret with the cooperation of 600 corporations. - Will manage 40% of all global trade (according to Secretary of State Clinton). - Congressional representatives have been denied access to TPP negotiations and documents. - Next round scheduled for next week (Dec. 3-12) in Auckland, New Zealand