Congress passes "fiscal cliff" package by vote of 257 /167

According to the Associated Press, legislation to block the “fiscal cliff” is headed to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.

The bill will avoid, for now, the major tax increases and government spending cuts that had been scheduled to take effect with the new year.

The legislation will raise tax rates on incomes over $400,000 for
individuals and $450,000 for couples. That was higher than the
thresholds of $200,000 and $250,000 that Obama campaigned for. But
remarkably, in a party that swore off tax increases two decades ago,
dozens of Republicans supported the bill at both ends of the Capitol.

The Senate approved the measure on a vote of 89-8 less than 24 hours
earlier.

The measure split the upper ranks of the Republican leadership in the House.

Speaker John Boehner of Ohio voted in favor, while Majority Leader
Eric Cantor of Virginia opposed the bill. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the party’s 2012
vice presidential candidate, supported the measure.

Final approval came in the House on New Year’s Night. The vote was 257 to 167.

Arizona elects first openly bisexual member of Congress

Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has defeated Republican Vernon Parker in the race for Arizona’s 9th Congressional District, CNN projected Monday.

Sinema’s win in the newly-created district adds one more seat to the list of pick-ups for Democrats in the House, putting the breakdown at 234 Republicans, 196 Democrats and two independents.

Sinema, a former state senator, had 48.1% of the vote compared to Parker, the former mayor of Paradise Valley, at 45.3%, according to the office of Arizona’s Secretary of State on Monday.

Sinema is the first openly bisexual member of Congress.

She will be the only out LGBT female in the House in the 113th Congress and only the second out LGBT female in Congress.

Tammy Baldwin, who served in the House since winning her seat in 1998, was elected to the Senate in Wisconsin this past Tuesday. Sinema will, however, be joining the largest group of out LGBT lawmakers on the Hill in the nation’s history. In addition to Baldwin and Sinema, out Reps. Jared Polis of Colorado and David Cicilline of Rhode Island were re-elected and Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Mark Takano of California also were elected to Congress.

Congressional super-committee to announce failure to find resolution

Members of the “super committee” charged with coming up with $1.2 trillion in budget cuts are focused on how to announce failure to reach a deal, Democratic and Republican aides confirmed to CNN Sunday.

While aides said no final decision had been made, they acknowledged that — barring an unforeseen development — an announcement of an end to negotiations is the most likely scenario.

Democrats have proposed a “balanced” solution that would generate $400 billion from increased tax collections and $700 billion in spending meant to jump-start the economy, including an extension of the payroll tax cut, extended unemployment benefit payments and money to permanently prevent cuts in payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients.

However, Republicans would only agree to spending cuts and the closing of one small tax loophole for corporate jet owners.

Talks on trying to reach a deficit reduction agreement are essentially over and discussions are focused on a Monday announcement, a senior Democratic aide said.

More at CNN.com

Super-committee deadline looms

The congressional super committee, facing a fast-approaching deadline, appears headed toward failure unless negotiations shift dramatically in the final few days.

Multiple sources say Republican leaders have proposed a smaller package of spending cuts and revenues as a ‘Plan B’ if the panel does not succeed, though even this offer appears unlikely to gain much traction.

But the plan, which would reduce the deficit by about $640 billion, was dismissed by Democratic leaders according to two Republican sources. Democrats, according to multiple sources, are insisting on a higher revenue component – such as eliminating oil and gas subsidies – to achieve the “balanced approach” they have sought all along.

Republicans, working with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, offered Democratic leaders this “backup plan” which included about $540 billion in mandatory spending cuts and fees, and only $3 billion in revenue from closing the corporate jets tax break.

That formula breakdowns to tax revenues of only one half of one percent of the total reductions proposed.

Sources say the focus has now shifted to finding a way to lessen the blow of the sequester – the automatic across-the-board cuts scheduled to set in if the super committee does not reach agreement on $1.2 trillion in deficit savings over 10 years.

(source)

Unexplainable, Inexcusable

A senator or congressman can recieve a nice yearly 35k pension at 62 just for serving 5 years.

A member of the Reserves or National Guard that serves 33 years with the rank of E-7 gets only $16,800 a year. If that same person was on active duty for 20 years retiring with the same rank would receive a little more than $22,000 a year.

This will take less than thirty seconds to read. If you agree, please pass it on.

For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest is to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform… in all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn’t seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law. I truly don’t care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop.

Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution: “Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States ..”

Sign this petition asking Congress and the President to make all laws affect all Americans equally.

Petition created by Derek Batchelor