U.S. Congress

Meet the candidates: Congressional primaries in Tennessee Thursday

A trio of House races in Tennessee will keep observers’ eyes locked on the state Friday as voters head to the polls in the state’s congressional primary elections. Of course, we’ve been tracking the races as part of our Wiki the Vote project, and Congresspedia readers like yourself are adding details to the project every day.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D), representing the 9th congressional district, has been under attack in his majority-black district. Challenger Nikki Tinker has hit Cohen hard in a recent campaign commercial by running the congressman’s picture beside an image of Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forest. The ad takes Cohen to task for his vote, while a Center City commissioner, against renaming a park that was named after Forest.

Cohen has countered the attack by highlighting his Jewish heritage, and his recent sponsorship of legislation in the House to apologize for slavery.

(Click through for more on the congressional primaries)

Meet the candidates: Congressional primaries in Kansas, Michigan and Missouri Tuesday

By Congresspedia assistant editor Avelino Maestas

It must be August: Congress is no longer in session and the congressional primary season is again heating up. According to our calendar, there are primary elections every week from now until mid-September. Candidates in three states – Kansas, Michigan and Missouri - are on the ballot tomorrow.

As part of our Wiki the Vote project, our citizen-editors have been tallying all the races and building profiles of many of the candidates. We’ll have more on the winners Wednesday, but for now here are some of the more interesting races to watch:

Whose Conventions Are They Anyway?

Both the Democratic and Republican conventions are bringing in millions of dollars in corporate sponsors, but there is no reporting requirement for either the political parties or the companies. There are a reported 146 organizational and corporate donors, but less than a quarter have chosen to disclose information about their donations.


Congresspedia Preview: This Week in Congress (July 20-26, 2008)

With three weeks left before the August recess, both parties are scrambling to pass something - anything - addressing the two issues at the fore of everyone's minds and evening newscasts: the housing/mortgage crisis and high gas prices. The former seems to be a broad-based, serious effort that may help the situation, but the latter has devolved into the usual kabuki political theater.

The major housing/mortgage crisis relief bill may receive final votes in both the House and Senate this week. The Bush administration asked Congress last week to include help for government-sponsored mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the form of a higher credit limit with the U.S. Treasury and the possibility of a government buy-up of their stock. In exchange, congressional Democrats reiterated their support for a $4 billion program to provide funding to local governments to buy up, refurbish and sell foreclosed homes, which President Bush had previously threatened to veto the bill over. Now it's a question of who blinks first.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are also each trying to pass their own legislation to address high gas prices. Democrats have decided to target oil speculators through bills like the Energy Markets Emergency Act of 2008 while also trying to freeze out efforts by Republicans to open the Outer Continental Shelf and Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. Neither approach is likely to have much effect on gas prices in either the long or short run, however, so at this point both parties are just trying to avoid the wrath of voters and head into the August recess having passed something (or at least have a good story about the obstructionism of the other side).

The House will also likely take up the global aids funding bill passed by the Senate last week and consider a $1 billion, 10-year plan to systematically inspect and repair the nation's bridges and tunnels.

Complete schedules of the week's committee hearings are beyond the jump.

Hearings Schedules:

Congresspedia Preview: This Week in Congress (July 13-19, 2008)

Congress this week may send a housing relief package to President Bush for his signature. The other major action in the House and Senate will be on energy-related measures, as both Republicans and Democrats propose fixes for high energy prices. There is also a primary election in Georgia this week, as we prepare for the fall election season.

Federal officials announced early this morning that the government would take steps to shore up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-founded companies that finance about half of the home loans issued in the United States. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the companies would be allowed to borrow money from the Federal Reserve, and the government might invest directly in the privately-held firms if their situation worsens. The steps are unprecedented, but officials have said the companies’ failure would cause further damage to America’s housing market and the overall economy.

Increased oversight of the firms is a central idea in the housing package approved by the Senate last week.

A Deal So Good It Could be Illegal

Former Congressman Curt Weldon's employer Defense Solutions got a good deal in Iraq. So good, that "the deal, for decades-old, equipment, included terms so lopsided, they likely would have been illegal under U.S. law." Defense Solutions got a contract with the Iraqi government in 2005 to refurbish obsolete Soviet-era Hungarian tanks. While U.S. law would dictate that the company's fee be tied to performance, Defense Solutions' contract not only ensures payment, it also gives them a percentage of the total cost.


Congresspedia Review: This Week in Congress (July 6-12, 2008)

The biggest news this week in Congress was the passage and signing of the FISA bill, which expanded the president's surveillance powers (to more closely fit the Bush administration's existing practices) and granted retroactive legal immunity to telecom companies for breaking federal privacy laws when allowing the administration to illegally tap domestic phone lines without a warrant. The Senate also passed a housing legislation package on Friday and Congress gave final passage to a bill preventing a cut in payments to doctors in the Medicare program (at the expense of federally subsidized corporate Medicare programs).

Stauber Interviews Sirota: The War, Dems, MoveOn and The Uprising

Sheldon Rampton and I could see it coming soon after the Democrats took control of the Congress in 2007. In March, 2007 we pointed out that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with the support of MoveOn, was advancing legislation that would fund the war in Iraq while giving Democrats PR cover, allowing them to posture against it while the bloody, brutal occupation of Iraq continues. We were attacked at the time by Democratic partisans, but unfortunately our analysis has proven correct and today the war in Iraq is as much of an interminable quagmire as it was when the Democrats took control of the House and Senate in January 2007.
Sirota The Uprising

Democratic political activist, columnist and author David Sirota has also strongly condemned this failure of the Democrats and "The Players," DC's professional partisan insiders such as MoveOn. On May 24, 2007 he wrote: "Today America watched a Democratic Party kick them square in the teeth - all in order to continue the most unpopular war in a generation at the request of the most unpopular president in a generation at a time polls show a larger percentage of the public thinks America is going in the wrong direction than ever recorded in polling history. ... That will make May 24, 2007 a dark day generations to come will look back on - a day when Democrats in Washington not only continued a war they promised to end, but happily went on record declaring that they believe in their hearts that government's role is to ignore the will of the American people."

This month, more than a year later, the Democratic controlled Congress once again gave the Bush Administration funding to continue the Iraq war well into 2009. David Sirota now has a new book out: The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington. In it he expands on his criticism of the Democratic Party and its partisan, professional antiwar activists in the leadership of MoveOn.

Sirota writes in his new book (page 82), "The absence of a full-throated antiwar uprising is tragic at a time when the country appears more skeptical of knee-jerk militarism than ever before. ...


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