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Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

Five justices on the U.S. Supreme Court – none of whom ever ran for election or served in elective office – reversed a century of political tradition and decades of legal precedents when they ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations may spend unlimited amounts of money to promote or attack candidates in local, state and federal elections. This disastrous decision will both increase the premium on campaign dollars and the role of the wealthy in determining who gets elected to office. It vastly enhances the power of well-funded corporate lobbyists in extracting policy concessions from members of Congress and the executive branch.

The DISCLOSE Act (S. 3295), sponsored by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), is an important first response to this ruling. The legislation would close a gaping loophole in the campaign finance disclosure system. Under existing law, groups that pay for electioneering communications need not disclose their major donors. Most corporations will launder their political expenditures through innocuous sounding groups, such as Americans for Job Security, and thus hide their political activity. The DISCLOSE Act for the first time would require these outside groups to identify their major donors of $1,000 or more who are funding the campaign ads, and that identifying information would be posted on the Internet for all to see.

For the DISCLOSE Act to take effect in time for the 2010 general election, when a lot of this new political spending is expected to swamp the airwaves, it must be approved by the U.S. Senate before the August recess. For that to happen, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) filibuster to prevent a vote on the bill must be broken.

Public Citizen strongly encourages senators of all parties to stand up for opening the books on money in politics. The quality of our elections and the integrity of our government rides on this vote for the DISCLOSE Act.

Call your Senators and tell them to vote for more transparency in government: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

http://www.pledgefordemocracy.org/

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Today, Congress took an important step to improve workplace safety. The House Committee on Education and Labor passed the Robert C. Byrd (named after the late Senator from West Virginia) Miner Safety and Health Act. The bill now advances to the House floor where it will hopefully come up for a vote soon. This is an important piece of legislation. David Arkush, director of our Congress Watch division, explained its potential effects in a statement released today:

The legislation addresses two key areas in particular: (more…)

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ThinkProgress.org blogged over the weekend about BP’s attempts to “control scientific research of [the] oil disaster.” Essentially, BP has been buying up researchers in the Gulf Coast region and asking to review all their data before it is released to the public. The company is adding to its payrolls (either directly or through grants to Gulf Coast are Universities) many of the scientists working in the Gulf Coast are who are best qualified to study the spill. Because BP has such deep pockets, it can afford to pay all of these scientists to study the effects the oil is having on wildlife. In return for being paid by BP, the scientists will now send all their research to the oil giant for review before it is released to the public. Needless to say, this goes a long way towards eliminating any hope of transparency we might have.

While it is understandable and entirely legal for BP to hire these scientists and to control the data, it is not right to the American people if BP does not disclose all the research the company receives. Failing to disclose the data and reports could seriously inhibit recovery and restoration efforts.

There is only one entity with the power and financial weight to challenge BP. The federal government must both force BP to disclose all its findings and counter BP’s army of scientists with a government-sponsored team.

The oil spill seems to be coming to an end. As we hope and pray that stage two of this disaster is coming to a close, we must begin to focus on the next step. The government has failed to adequately deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. President Obama and Congress must ensure it does not fail to handle the aftermath of this disaster.

Boycott BP: http://www.citizen.org/page.aspx?pid=3311

Join us to demonstrate on Capitol Hill on the three-month anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon’s explosion.

You can also sign the “Congress: You Have Oil on Your Hands” petition.

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Despite the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Congress has done nothing to end our addiction to oil.

Wondering why? Crude is not the only thing flowing from Big Oil. The industry’s money is flowing through the halls of Congress and polluting our political system.

The members of Congress have oil on their hands.

Sign the “Congress: You Have Oil on Your Hands” petition.

The corporate control of our government – in particular, the influence of oil and gas money – has endangered our environment and the people who depend on it. The situation in the Gulf of Mexico is a tragic example of what can result from this corrupt political process.

We are collecting signatures to build public pressure on our elected officials to give their BP money – and all their oil and gas industry contributions – to the Gulf recovery effort.

We will deliver the petition on July 20 – the three-month anniversary of the disaster – following a rally on Capitol Hill.

And if you’re in Washington, come join us for the protest. It’ll be on Tuesday at noon. Meet in the upper Senate park, located at Constitution and New Jersey Avenues.

Speakers include:  (more…)

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It’s been hot on the East Coast this past week. As they tend to do, the recent heat waves have intensified the national discussion about climate change. Of course most scientists agree that there is no clear correlation between the 103-degree weather Central Park visitors experienced on Tuesday and the effects of greenhouse gases.

That is not to say they do not continue to agree on climate change. According to a recent study, over 97% of climatologists and scientists studying related fields agree that climate change, caused by human activity,  is real. Yet, just as the snowstorms East Coast citizens experienced this past winter (more…)

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Despite multiple willful transgressions of federal law, BP continues to receive billions of dollars worth of federal contracts and purchases, The Washington Post reported on Monday. In one notable example, the Department of Defense has purchased close to $1 billion worth of petroleum products from BP. Of course, none of this is news to Public Citizen; we called for the Department of Defense to suspend contracts with  BP back on June 7 in a letter to President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

BP has repeatedly shown that it cannot be trusted to act as the American public wishes. It is therefore imperative that the federal government stop rewarding BP with lucrative contracts.

When Congress returns from holiday next week, it is expected to continue discussing barring BP from new oil and gas drilling leases. Lawmakers have yet to discuss suspending fuel purchases by the government. They should do so immediately.

Also, remember to sign our pledge to Boycott BP at beyondBP.org and check out our Facebook page, 1,000,000 strong to Boycott BP.

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In an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said of the Wall Street reform bill, “This is killing an ant with a nuclear weapon.”

Wall Street, an ant? You mean the bankers who have been spending more than a million dollars a day on lobbyists to kill the bill? You mean the gargantuan institutions whose reckless, predatory actions caused the near-collapse of the financial system and plunged us into the Great Recession? Sorry, I’m really not seeing anything ant-like here.

And then he says the reform bill is like a nuclear weapon. I guess he’s trying to say it’s too strong. Yeah, there are some good, strong regulations in the bill, like the consumer financial protection bureau and increased transparency in the derivatives market. (more…)

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