Message-maven culture killing compromise in Washington

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: Political foes prefer to score points rather than work together on solutions.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… a commentary shortly after his testimony, Lilly added that, “The current Congressional budget process is too elaborate, too time consuming and worse off con …"

"… dded.) Lilly’s words could have applied to every other issue members of Congress take up, especially health care. Had message-makers not been in control of …"

"… rocess of exploring options for legislation at the time. Actual bills that Congress would ultimately vote for or against would not materialize for many months …"

"… ear. The Words That Work boxes that follow are already being used by a few Congressional and Senatorial Republicans. From today forward they should be used by …"

Campaign shenanigans are top targets for Office of Congressional Ethics

By Dave Levinthal

Office of Congressional Ethics investigates House members' campaign shenanigans more than any other alleged violation.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… o industry-bestowed cigar. Since early 2009, nearly half of the Office of Congressional Ethics' investigations into U.S. House members and staff involve elec …"

"… to a new report the independent office published this week. The Office of Congressional Ethics — the U.S. House's independent, internal watchdog — has be …"

"… matters, is slapping political committees with fewer and fewer penalties. Congress grants the Office of Congressional Ethics the jurisdiction to investigate …"

"… committees with fewer and fewer penalties. Congress grants the Office of Congressional Ethics the jurisdiction to investigate any alleged violation of a "la …"

Chattanooga asks FCC for help in spreading broadband

By Allan Holmes

Industry-backed law prohibits expansion of cities' Internet service

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… lina has similar restrictions. These restrictions frustrate the intent of Congress, which is to ensure that every American has access to broadband, the Chatt …"

Lobbying activity declines among top special interests

By Dave Levinthal

Three-fifths of nation's top 100 lobbying entities spent less on influence in the second quarter compared to a year ago.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… cond-quarter income. …"

"… veral others remained stagnant. Unlike last year at this time, members of Congress are more concerned about getting re-elected than passing legislation. The …"

"… s second quarter. Last year “was the biggest year on gun legislation in Congress in two decades, and NAGR was the main player in defeating every gun contro …"

"… es to lobby heavily on “critical job creation issues being considered by Congress,” such as transportation, infrastructure, energy and trade matters, Holm …"

Lawmakers issue dueling Dodd-Frank reports

By Jared Bennett

Republicans say the financial reform law creates a bailout fund. Democrats says the 4-year-old law makes banks safer.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… blican administration of George W. Bush, with the blessing of a Democratic Congress, created a $700 billion fund to bail out banks and other financial firms t …"

"… f the financial industry. The "banking caucus" includes Democrats. Former Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., who was co-author of the reform law, will defend …"

Is this U.S. coal giant funding violent union intimidation in Colombia?

By Rosalind Adams

Lawsuits allege Alabama-based Drummond Co., which mines coal in Colombia, has financial ties to groups that have threatened union leaders.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… the United States signed a Free Trade Agreement with the country in 2006, Congress hesitated to enact the agreement because of Colombia’s poor labor rights …"

Four years after passage, House keeps trying to kill Dodd-Frank

By Jared Bennett

On the fourth anniversary of the passage of landmark financial reform law, opponents still trying to kill it.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… man of the House Financial Services Committee, and the 10 other members of Congress featured in the Center’s investigation, have done their best to derail D …"

"… Frank. At least 30 bills have been proposed to the House during the 113th Congress, aimed at chipping away at aspects of Dodd-Frank. Members of the banking c …"

"… B have been steady almost since its inception. A proposal before the 112th Congress to change the CFPB leadership structure from a single director to a commis …"

"… vision to change the bureau’s funding source from the Federal Reserve to Congress beginning in 2016. The bill passed the house on July 16. Finance-related …"

Tea party scandal brews FOIA backlog at FEC

By Dave Levinthal

Media and public wait for information from election agency as Congress seeks IRS-related information.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… priority, except for the order in which requests come in."     …"

Trains, amputations and the roots of why kids are on the run

By Susan Ferriss

Reports have long warned of chaos in Central America many minors say they want to escape.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… ed. Meanwhile, a debate is raging over whether a 2008 anti-trafficking law Congress approved — a reauthorization of existing legislation — has spurred mor …"

"… lative proposals — with some bipartisan support — are emerging in Congress to alter the anti-trafficking act, a move that's dividing lawmakers. Chang …"

"… ;Central America have warned that organized crime was gaining strength. A Congressional Research Service report in February of this year surveyed the ga …"

How to fix the IRS nonprofit division

Employees, reformers offer three recommendations for improving the agency's flagging nonprofit division.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… een systematically weakened — stripped of resources and authority — by Congress. And it’s all but quit regulating politically active nonprofits in a mea …"

"… pped more than 8 percent, from 900 in 2010 to 824 in 2013. But relying on Congress for additional funding will likely prove futile, as demonstrated by many l …"

"… That was the intent of the tax, approved by law roughly 40 years ago. But Congress never appropriated the money for that cause. The tax could be applied to a …"

"… ffectively regulating [nonprofits]. Part of the reason, of course, is that Congress does not want effective regulation,” Paul Streckfus, who worked in …"

New scrutiny on campus sexual violence highlights Center findings

By Gordon Witkin

New efforts are aimed at both assisting schools and putting pressure on them to assist victims of sexual violence.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… al law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints. In Congress, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has led a group of senators researching way …"

Hobbled IRS can't stem 'dark money' flow

Budget and staffing cuts, endless congressional investigations keep IRS from investigating activities of political nonprofits.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… e 2010 election. Then the IRS tea party scandal exploded. Republicans in Congress began waylaying the IRS over what they said was the systematic and inexcus …"

"… ng the names of their donors secret. The tea party scandal, combined with Congress systematically stripping the IRS of resources and clout over decades, has …"

"… their evolution. Responding to business complaints about the arrangement, Congress in 1950 passed a law levying taxes on nonprofits’ “unrelated business …"

"… lect tax dollars, the IRS itself is receiving fewer and fewer of them from Congress. The IRS’ approved budget for the 2014 fiscal year is $11.3 b …"

Attack ads may actually be benefiting Obamacare enrollment

By Wendell Potter

Publicity from attacks may actually help hike enrollment.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… by 15 to 1. While those attack ads likely cost some Democratic members of Congress their jobs in 2012, a new report indicates that, crazy as it sounds, those …"

"… terest in Obamacare — seem to be contributing to a change in the tone of Congressional campaigns.  “Some Republicans seem to be shifting their midte …"

Chattanooga wants feds to pre-empt broadband ban

By Allan Holmes

Tennessee city seeks to expand municipal broadband service, pre-empting industry-backed state ban.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… e he took over as chairman in November 2013, including in testimony before Congress, that he plans to pre-empt state laws that ban or place barriers on cities …"

"… als for any other state it has given to. The companies and Republicans in Congress will likely fight Chattanooga’s petition. Senators including Deb Fischer …"

Class-action suit: Wrong to put kids into immigration court with no lawyers to help

By Susan Ferriss

Kids whose dad was killed by gangsters are among the plaintiffs in a suit arguing that children should have lawyers in immigration court.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… ho work with immigrant kids have argued. This week, President Obama asked Congress to allocate $3.7 billion in emergency funds to finance a range of response …"

Feds seek new authority to recoup Medicare Advantage overcharges

By Fred Schulte

Impact: Feds act to recoup overcharges following Center investigation.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… oman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s trade group. Congress created Medicare Advantage and introduced risk scores in 2003 as a way to …"

"… in 2011. Critics argue that even as the health insurance industry lobbies Congress to stave off further rate cuts, it remains overpaid. One new study&n …"

"… tem to keep those costs in check is a “constant challenge” for CMS and Congress. “The difficulty of the challenge shouldn’t be an excuse to throw the …"

Will migrant kids lose access to child-welfare and legal specialists in rush to deport?

By Susan Ferriss

Child advocates are worried possible legal changes could cut off migrant kids' access to social workers, asylum lawyers.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… can kids turning themselves in at the border could be returned to peril if Congress amends laws to speed up their repatriation to home countries.    …"

"… tral American kids, Podkul and other advocates say, Obama may suggest that Congress amend laws so that Border Patrol agents can treat the Central American kid …"

"… week, Roybal-Allard released a statement supporting Obama’s request that Congress allocate more than $2 billion to address the emergency at the border and w …"

"… w have to consult with social workers and lawyers. She said: “We in Congress should be extremely cautious that we do not undermine the basic protection …"

Saving the penny makes cents for zinc-backed front group

By Erin Quinn

'Broad-based' group created to save the penny from extinction turns out to be backed by a company that supplies metal to make the coins.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… rs will face higher costs, fewer benefits and a loss of provider choice if Congress and the Obama administration don't take action to keep planned rate cuts f …"

How politics derailed EPA science on arsenic, endangering public health

By David Heath

A ban on arsenic-containing pesticides was lifted after a lawmaker disrupted a scientific assessment by the EPA.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… ce, fruit juice, beer and wine. Under orders from a Republican-controlled Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency in 2001 established a new drinking-wa …"

"… investigation by the Center for Public Integrity found that one member of Congress effectively blocked the release of the EPA findings and any new regulation …"

"… conditioned on the EPA’s completing its scientific review. The delay by Congress caused the EPA to suspend its ban. The weed killer, called MSMA, remains o …"

"… found that a key reason for this is the intervention by a single member of Congress. The story of arsenic shows how easily industry thwarted the Obama’s ad …"

Medicare Advantage plans require more scrutiny

By Fred Schulte

Government inspector says private Medicare plans difficult to investigate due to lack of access to data.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… gin requiring Medicare Advantage plans to report fraud to the government. Congress created Medicare Advantage in 2003 to encourage private insurance companie …"

Praise for UK-style health system vindicates spurned nominee

By Wendell Potter

Former Medicare chief's support for UK's health care system may win votes in race for governor of Massachusetts.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… ws presidents to make short-term appointments without Senate approval when Congress is not in session, and that is what Obama did. He appointed Berwick as CMS …"

"… session, and that is what Obama did. He appointed Berwick as CMS head when Congress recessed for the July 4th holiday in 2010. He served until December of 201 …"

"… lth insurance industry’s friends on both sides of the political aisle in Congress would never have allowed that to happen — Berwick has not backed down fr …"

Leadership at Chemical Safety Board questioned amid investigation backlog

By Rosalind Adams

Evidence of ongoing management failures and a toxic work environment at the Chemical Safety Board was presented at a hearing Thursday.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… og, drawing the ire of victims’ families as well as members of Congress.    The board's investigation into the 2010 Tesoro Co …"

FEC struggles to appoint top lawyer

By Dave Levinthal

Agency that enforces campaign laws has gone without a general counsel for nearly a year — and counting.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… e assistant to an FEC commissioner stands to make, thanks in large part to Congress' unwillingness, so far, to give the agency more flexibility in determining …"

"… fleeting show of unity, the FEC last year unanimously recommended to Congress that the general counsel position be given higher salary potential, arguin …"

Lawmakers complain about shoddy intelligence contractor database

By James Arkin

Frustrations are rising on Capitol Hill about the intelligence community’s failure to justify its widespread use of contractors.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… who is working for the intelligence community as contractors, or why.” Congressional pique intensified last year after Edward Snowden, an employee for con …"

"… ation, according to the GAO, an independent watchdog group that reports to Congress. Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight, a n …"

Credit rating industry dodges reforms, despite role in financial meltdown

By Alison Fitzgerald

Despite playing a central role in the economic collapse, firms that gave inflated ratings to toxic bonds remain untouched by reforms.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… come, and refused to say whether the agency believes it must act at all. Congress also mandated, as an alternative to the Franken amendment, that issuers of …"

"… managing partner at the investment bank Westwood Capital in New York. The Congress also tried to diminish the clout of the raters by ordering all federal age …"

"… since the financial crisis, when they took a major beating from members of Congress, private investors and even the Justice Department, which is suing Standar …"

Federal contract employee reviewed 15,152 security clearances in a month, audit says

By R. Jeffrey Smith

One worker's high productivity fails to win plaudits.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… work along in deference to timeliness mandates.” That’s a reference to Congress’ requirement that the agency process 90 percent of clearance cases withi …"

Health insurance lobby keeps Medicare Advantage overpayments flowing

By Wendell Potter

Commentary: program bills are excessive, but don't expect reforms.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… xpayers out of $70 billion in just five years. You would think members of Congress in both parties would be so outraged they’d be launching their own inves …"

"… industry is and how its lobbyists almost always get what they want out of Congress and the White House, regardless of who is sitting in the Oval Office. The …"

"… a secret that the government has been overpaying the private insurers. The Congressional Budget Office has provided lawmakers with estimates of the overpaymen …"

"… s would face higher costs, fewer benefits and a loss of provider choice if Congress and the Obama administration didn’t act to keep plan rate cuts from goin …"

Lobbyists boost Senate Democrats

By Michael Beckel

Democrats have outraised their GOP counterparts in terms of money coming from lobbyists doubling as fundraisers.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… ntage of his campaign cash from lobbyist-bundlers than any other member of Congress: 14 percent, or $357,000 of the total $2.6 million he raised. He next face …"

"… ion. Critics contend that bundlers have undue influence over politicians. Congress addressed lobbyists’ fundraising activities in 2007, requiring them to d …"

"… st Bill Paxon of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld — a former member of Congress himself — ranked as the most prolific fundraiser. He raised about $335,0 …"

How lobbyists helped build John Cornyn’s election war chest

By Michael Beckel

Lobbyists’ role in Senate GOP whip's campaign helped him avoid, in his own words, a “fair fight.”

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… over politicians by gaining access through fundraising activity. In 2007, Congress itself required lobbyist-bundlers to disclose their activity following the …"

"… heir issues. “Fundraising gives us an opportunity to educate members of Congress,” Graham continued. “Getting that message across is not always easy. …"

"… cies during 2013 — tied for eighth among the Senate’s 100 members. In Congress, Cornyn co-founded the bipartisan Texas Shale Oil and Gas Caucus, and he h …"

"… for separating defense spending caps from domestic ones, which would allow Congress to propose larger military budgets. Cornyn — already powerful in the Se …"

Federal auditors say Obama administration underestimates nuclear weapons costs

By R. Jeffrey Smith

Analysts again say the Defense and Energy Departments have wrongly omitted billions of dollars from their forecasts.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Congress":

"… The report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, a watchdog arm of Congress, is the second official rebuke in the past six months of a claim by Obama …"

"… r ago that the likely expense would be $263.8 billion. Last December, the Congressional Budget Office suggested in its own report that administration officia …"