Saturday, 29 September 2007
Coverage of the Conference can be found at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/bbc_parliament/ and the Conservative Party's webpages cover
The agenda: https://conservativepartyconference.com/admin;jsessionid=69C430CF21A415432E10A32D92C231BE?service=direct&context=DelegateType/wrap.menuLink&sp=register_wrap&sp=235765&sp=S&sp=agenda
Conservative Coverage: http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=conference.2007.home.page
In the United States the Senate resumes consideration of H.R.1585, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 on Monday - which happens to be the first day of fiscal year 2007-08.
The House of Representatives has 23 suspension bills and the following bills which are subject to a rule
H.R. 3246 - Regional Economic and Infrastructure Development Act of 2007
H.R. 2740 – MEJA Expansion and Enforcement Act of 2007
H.R. 928 – Improving Government Accountability Act
H.R. 3648 - To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exclude discharges of indebtedness on principal residences from gross income
Friday, 28 September 2007
The paper ballot bill remains in the legislative freezer in the House, and the odds of sending anything to the president that will take effect before the 2008 elections seem almost nonexistent.
“Obviously that has generated a lot of concern from states and local officials,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) of the legislation, which calls for a voter-verified paper trail in next year’s presidential election. “I met with them and we’re trying to work on this,” he said. Hoyer noted that the Senate is unlikely to pass any bill this year.
“As a practical matter, Sen. [Dianne] Feinstein [D-Calif.] said she’s not going to pass a bill until next year and it’s not going to take effect until 2010,” Hoyer said. “That being said we want to pass the bill as soon as possible but we want to make sure we have the votes.”
Thursday, 27 September 2007
Wednesday, 26 September 2007
The website http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/ is a useful indicator. Do be careful - the assumptions behind the statistics are open to debate - and the site indicates how the figures are arrived at. It's not perfect - but as I stated above a useful indication is given.
By copying the tables into excel it is possible to sort the data so provide 'league tables' of rebelliousness and attendance.
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
For background material visit
Sunday, 23 September 2007
Saturday, 22 September 2007
It is now possible to watch both Houses live (Live Streams on http://www.c-span.org/); read the Congressional Record http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/dailydigest; download legislation being considered http://thomas.loc.gov/home/bills_res.html - as well as read reports in the Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/politics/congress/?nid=roll_congress; Roll Call http://www.rollcall.com/ and the Hill http://thehill.com/.
The Congressional Research Service have produced a paper on Congress and the Internet which is available at http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/secrecy/RL34148.pdf
Wednesday, 19 September 2007
Tuesday, 18 September 2007
Monday, 17 September 2007
Sunday, 16 September 2007
Saturday, 15 September 2007
After a week dominated by Iraq, and the testimonies of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker - the two Congressional Houses return from their brief holidays.
In addition to 16 suspension bills the House expects to consider the following
H.R. 1852 - Expanding American Homeownership Act of 2007 (Rep. Waters – Financial Services)
H.R. 2761 – Terrorism Risk Insurance Revision and Extension Act of 2007 (Rep. Capuano –
H.R. 811 - Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007 (Rep. Holt – House
H.R. 2881 - FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007 (Rep. Oberstar – Transportation and Infrastructure)
The Senate will resume its consideration of the Defense Authorization bill on Monday. Business later in the week is less easy to predict than for the House, because of the nature of the Senate - which doesn't allow the more rigid timetabling that is possible in the House
Friday, 14 September 2007
Thursday, 13 September 2007
Tuesday, 11 September 2007
In the US the Supreme Court can strike down laws passed by Congress. The argument is that the US system of government and the rules which govern it, were created and agreed by the people when the US Constitution. Amendments may be made to that Constitution by the people, if and when they want to. (Sovereignty rests with them). In the meantime Congress may only legislate in accordance with the rules set down - by the people - in the Constitution.
Sunday, 9 September 2007
Saturday, 8 September 2007
Friday, 7 September 2007
Minister for Aviation and Shipping, the Earl of Caithness, then resigned after the suicide of his wife, who shot herself in despair at his relationship with another woman. In February 1994, PPS Hartley Booth, Methodist lay preacher and grandson of the founder of the Salvation Army, quit after a "friendship" with a Commons researcher. Government Whip Michael Brown succumbed in May 1994 after a storm over tabloid allegations of a homosexual affair with a 20-year-old student." The ultimate revelation was that Major himself had had an affair with Edwina Currie.
Thursday, 6 September 2007
Congressman Rush Holt's Office has issued the followed
Fundamental Provisions of H.R. 811
The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007
· A voter-verified paper ballot must be produced for every vote cast beginning with the November 2008 elections.
· Paper-based voting systems (including thermal reel-to-reel systems and systems accessible to voters with disabilities that also used or produced a paper ballot) used in 2006 can be used until 2012; only systems that used no paper ballots at all must be replaced or upgraded by November 2008. Durable, scannable, accessible paper ballots must be used by 2012.
· Upgrade requirements mean that, by 2012:
o where ballot marking devices are used, they must be able to deposit the ballots “automatically” into a “secure container” for mobility access, and
o where direct recording electronic machines (DREs) are used, a mechanism must be provided that allows disabled voters to privately and independently verify the contents of the paper ballot printed by the DRE printer.
· The paper ballot is the vote of record in all recounts and audits, as a check on electronic tallies.
· In 2008, all voters are entitled to vote by paper ballot if the voting machine in their jurisdiction is broken, and in 2010 and after, for any reason.
· Routine random audits must be conducted by hand count in 3% of the precincts in all Federal elections, and 5% or 10% in very close races (but races decided by 80% or more need not be audited).
· Wireless devices, Internet connections, uncertified software and undisclosed software are banned in voting and tabulating machines.
· $1 billion in funding is authorized for system replacement and upgrading in FY 2008, with additional upgrades authorized in FY 2009.
· $100 million each fiscal year is authorized to fund the audits.
· An arms-length relationship is established between test labs and voting machine vendors.The bill is silent on re-authorizing the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and does not address military and overseas balloting.
Wednesday, 5 September 2007
Pugin worked in collaboration with the Minton factory to successfully revive the inlaid technique, introducing such new colours as blue, white and green. The motifs are taken from medieval sources but Pugin achieved remarkable originality in his clear designs. In the case of 'sandwich' tiles such as these, a layer of coarse clay is sandwiched between two layers of much finer clay, then used as the blank. This method reduced shrinkage in the firing, and was more economical."
Tuesday, 4 September 2007
Requires the voting system to require the use of or produce an individual, durable, voter-verified paper ballot of the voter's vote, created by or made available for inspection and verification by the voter before the voter's vote is cast and counted. Requires the voting system to provide the voter with an opportunity to correct any system-made error in the voter-verified paper ballot before it is permanently preserved."
Monday, 3 September 2007
Sunday, 2 September 2007
During my stay I visited Plymouth and the site from which the Pilgrim Fathers finally left England on the Mayflower. Being the major port on the South West coast many others left from the same spot - including the settlers of the Roanoake colony in 1585 http://www.nationalcenter.org/ColonyofRoanoke.html
So what's being happening during Washminster's absence? I've spent this morning reading the New York Times and Washington Posts of the last week.
Alberto Gonzales has finally announced his resignation as US Attorney General. We have learnt that the Justice Department is to investigate whether his sworn statements to Congress were "intentionally false, misleading or inappropriate".
Larry Craig, Senator for Idaho, has also announced his resignation, after a sex-related arrest. Another champion of family values goes down!
Unrelated to any scandal, Senator John Warner has announced that he will not stand for re-election in 2008. This well liked Senator, who was Navy Secretary, Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a Senator for 30 years (and former husband of Elizabeth Taylor) - will be missed. His decision not to stand also opens an interesting contest next year in the Commonwealth of Virginia - no doubt a story Washminster will be returning to.
Concerns about the dates of the primaries and caucuses have increased - with most of the democratic contenders signing a 'Four-State Pledge', promising not to campaign in states holding primaries before the traditional first-states of Iowa; New Hampshire; Nevada and South Carolina. There are threats to cut delegates from Florida & Michigan who are planning to break the 'protected window' which ensures that no other state can select delegates before 5th February (which itself will become 'Super-Duper Tuesday' as states rush to hold their primaries on that date).
A bill to mandate the screening of veterans (sometimes refered to as the suicide prevention bill) is being held up by a single Senator, Tom Coburn (Rep-Oklahoma) because he fears that the medical records might be used by other agencies to deny some veterans from obtaining firearms.
Over 50 members of Congress have visited Iraq over the summer - on Congressional Delegations (known as 'Codels'). For more details visit http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/26/world/middleeast/26visits.html?th&emc=th
So now we know!