• Bipartisan group of senators offers sweeping immigration reform

    A bipartisan group of eight senators yesterday unveiled a proposal to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, a proposal which will form the basis of a bill that its backers hope to introduce to the Senate by March. Today, President Barack Obama is delivering a major speech on immigration in Nevada, and White house sources say that the specific proposals in his speech will dovetail with the senators’ proposal.

  • Lawmakers propose bill which would increase visas for highly skilled immigrants

    Four senators plan to introduce a more narrowly tailored immigration reform bill which focuses on increasing the number of temporary visas available for highly skilled immigrants. The bill would also free up green cards so more of these highly skilled immigrants could settle in the United States and eventually become citizens.

  • House approves $50.7 billion Sandy relief bill

    The House Tuesday night approved, by a vote of 241 to 180, the $50.7 billion in a Sandy relief package, the second installment of a $60.4 billion package requested by the White House and approved by the Senate (last week the House approved the $9.7 million flood-insurance part of the package). Effort by conservative members of the House to offset a part of the bill’s cost with across-the-board federal budget cuts failed on a 258-162 vote.

  • Obama on Wednesday will outline executive action to curb gun violence

    President Obama on Wednesday will outline steps the administration can take without congressional approval to curb gun violence in the United States. Vice President Joe Biden told congressional leaders that there are nineteen separate actions the administration can take by using executive power. The president will emphasize that these executive measures are not an alternative to legislative action, and he will also announce his plan to push through Congress the most comprehensive reform of gun laws in two decades.

  • Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) calls Sen. Harry Reid an "idiot” over Katrina comment

    Last week, during a floor debate in the Senate on the $9.7 billion portion of the Sandy relief measure, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who supported the measure, said: “The people of New Orleans and that area, they were hurt, but nothing in comparison to what happened to the people in New York and New Jersey”; in response, Sen. David Vitter (R-Louisiana) said: “Sadly, Harry Reid has again revealed himself to be an idiot”

     

  • Congress approves first part of Sandy relief measure

    Congress approved a $9.7 billion Sandy aid package last Friday after a two month delay; the delay was caused by  fiscal cliff talks, warnings of federal funds cutbacks, and controversy over millions of dollars in unrelated projects; in two weeks, Congress will vote on the second part — an additional $50 billion Sandy relief package

  • Facing bipartisan outrage, House leadership abandons plan to postpone Sandy relief vote

    Responding to bipartisan outrage expressed by the New York and New Jersey congressional delegations, House Speaker John Boehner said he was committed to hold a House vote by 15 January on a large relief package for victims of Superstorm Sandy; in addition to abandoning the plan to postpone the vote, the House leadership also gave up on bringing to a vote the $27 billion relief measure proposed by the House Appropriations Committee, and instead will bring to a vote the White House-proposed and Senate-approved bill, which calls for $60.4 billion  in disaster relief

  • Deal would delay by two months $110 billion in automatic spending cuts

    The deal agreed on by Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), and Vice President Joe Biden, and which was passed in the Senate in the early hours of New Year’s Day, would also delay, by two months, the $110 billion in automatic spending cuts which were set to go into effect on 3 January2013

  • Fiscal cliff discussions get in way of post-Sandy relief measure

    The post-Sandy rebuilding effort in the northeast has been stalled by the debate going on in Congress about a solution to the national debt

  • Major surveillance law heading toward its own end-of-year cliff

    While coverage of the tense negotiations over a resolution to the fiscal cliff threat has dominated the media, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments of 2008 is heading for a cliff of its own, as the provisions of the act are set to expire at the end of the year

  • Sandy relief bill says rebuilding effort should take into consideration climate-related risks

    The $60 billion Sandy relief bill being debated this week in the Senate does not specifically mention the words climate change or global warming, but it implicitly raises topics and themes which are part of the climate change discussion; the bill says that federal, state, and local agencies engaged in the post-Sandy rebuilding effort should take into consideration “future extreme weather events, sea level rise and coastal flooding”

  • Senate intelligence committee approves 6,000-page report on CIA interrogation of terrorists

    Senate panel completes a 6,000-page report into the techniques used by the CIA in interrogating terrorists; the report will now be submitted to the administration for review; GOP members of the committee object to the report being made public

  • First responders drill response to a “Night of the Walking Dead” scenario

    DHS funds were approved to pay the $1,000 fee for a week-long conference at Paradise Point Resort and Spa in San Diego; the marquee event of the summit was its highly-promoted “zombie apocalypse” demonstration; Strategic Operations, a tactical training firm, was hired to put on a “zombie-driven show” designed to simulate a real-life terrorism event; the firm performed two shows on Halloween, which featured forty actors dressed as zombies getting gunned down by a military tactical unit

  • New Homeland Security Committee chairman to continue outgoing chairman King’s pragmatic approach

    Rotation at the head of two House committees – Homeland Security and Transportation and Infrastructure — will bring to an end an on-going turf war over who has jurisdiction over Transportation Security Administration (TSA); the new Homeland Security chairman, Representative Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said he would end the push to dismantle the agency – a goal pursued by the outgoing T&I chairman John Mica (R-Florida); McCaul also distanced himself from calls to restrict screening of passengers at airports or limit the authority of TSA agents to conduct such screening

  • U.S. skies may soon be open to drones

    Unmanned drones are cheaper than manned aircraft and can be used in a variety of ways, such as assessing environmental threats and damage from natural disaster, tracking criminals trying to escape on a highway, and assessing wildfires; according to an FAA prediction, 30,000 drones could be flying in the United States in less than twenty years; lawmakers and privacy advocates want the use of these drones more tightly regulated