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The Rules change that could end gridlock in the US House

Record dysfunction in Congress: it’s NOT just the Senate, and NOT just the filibuster.

Republican extremists in the House have also been using parliamentary tricks to block legislation – including bills that had bipartisan support and would have passed if our elected Representatives were actually allowed to vote.

“The use of ‘closed rules’ has excluded most House members from full participation in the legislative process,” Rep. Louise Slaughter, ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee, wrote earlier this week.

“Under a closed rule, no amendments are allowed on the House floor. As a result, House Republicans are able to pursue a politically driven agenda without allowing commonsense amendments that could achieve bipartisan compromise.  This approach has also empowered the most extreme members of the House to pursue narrow policy goals at all costs.”

Like, say, the government shutdown.

“On Sept. 30 — the eve of the government shutdown — Republicans on the House Rules Committee changed the rule so only House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) could call up a Senate-passed clean funding bill — a bill that has the votes to pass the House and would end the shutdown, if it were given a vote.”

One man, standing in the way of a vote that impacts millions of Americans.  (Remind you of anything?  Such as: then-Senator Scott Brown single-handedly blocking an extension of unemployment benefits, back in 2010?  The Senate couldn’t vote until they added an extension of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy.)

This is what’s REALLY wrong with Congress:  our elected Representatives aren’t being allowed to vote on legislation that has bipartisan support.

GOP leadership is using the “closed rule” process to keep the House from passing legislation.  Last year was the most “closed” year in House history.  “In fact, the House GOP passed as many closed rules in a single week in October as during the entire last year of Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) speakership.”

The Senate is finally reforming the filibuster.

Isn’t it time for the House to reform the “closed rule” process?

Shea-Porter: No Budget, No Vacation

The least productive Congress ever should stay in Washington
until a budget is agreed to

WASHINGTON, DC – With only six legislative days remaining before the House of Representatives goes home for the holidays, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter added her name to the newly introduced H. Res. 424, legislation that would prevent Congress from adjourning for the remainder of the year unless it passes a budget conference report by December 13th.

“The least productive Congress ever should stay in Washington until a budget is agreed to,” Shea-Porter said. “Without fulfilling this basic function, there is no question that Congress should not go on vacation.”

The 113th Congress is on track to have the least productive year in Congressional history. But next Friday, the House of Representatives is scheduled to go home for the holidays until January 7th. Earlier this week, Speaker of the House John Boehner had this outrageous response for reporters asking about progress in the Republican-led Congress:  “We’ve done our work.”

Without agreeing to a budget, Congress risks another government shutdown and credit default as early as January 15, 2014. Without authorizing the nation’s Farm Bill, the price of milk could skyrocket to $8.00 per gallon in January.  Additionally, unemployment insurance, common sense gun legislation, and jobs bills all remain on the table but unpassed.

Earlier today, Shea-Porter supported a motion that would have forced Congress to pass a budget conference report before adjourning for the year. In early August, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives asking Congress to extend its session in order to end sequestration and pass job-creating legislation. You can watch the video here.


Governor Hassan Signs Bill Creating “Pathway to Work” Program

SB 143 Creates Innovative, No-Cost Program Designed to Help Unemployed Workers Start Their Own Businesses

Maggie HassanCONCORD – Continuing her efforts to create jobs and strengthen New Hampshire’s economy, Governor Maggie Hassan signed today SB 143, which creates a “Pathway to Work” program designed to encourage and support efforts of unemployed workers to create their own jobs by starting their own small businesses.

“With this new law, we are able to expand the successful New Hampshire Working program by creating an innovative, no-cost program designed to encourage and enable unemployed workers to create their own jobs and perhaps provide jobs for others by starting their own small businesses,” Governor Hassan said. New Hampshire will now provide the pathway for unemployed participants to work with our state’s Small Business Development Center to engage in entrepreneurial training, business counseling and technical assistance. This will allow workers who are likely to exhaust their benefits to have access to the resources and training they need to establish a business and become self-employed.”

“I want to thank Senator Sylvia Larsen and her many co-sponsors for bringing this important piece of legislation forward. This new law will help Granite Staters create good jobs and build a more innovative economic future,” Governor Hassan said.

During her time in the state Senate, Governor Hassan sponsored a similar measure and worked with Senator Larsen to pass legislation creating the New Hampshire Working Program, a successful three-part jobs initiative that was enacted in 2010 to assist workers to Stay at Work, Return to Work and Get Ready to Work. Senate Bill 143 aims to build on that success by adding a fourth component, the “Pathway to Work.”

To participate in the “Pathway to Work” program, an unemployed worker must be: eligible to receive regular unemployment compensation; permanently laid off from his or her previous job; identified as likely to exhaust regular unemployment compensation; and a participant in activities such as entrepreneurial training, business counseling and technical assistance while engaged on a full-time basis in activities relating to the establishment of a business and becoming self-employed.

Create your own job? NH Senate gives initial approval to “Pathway to Work” bill

by dpstylesâ„¢, on Flickr

Earlier today, the NH Senate voted 21 to 3 to initially approve SB 143, which would create a “Pathway to Work” program within the Department of Employment Security.

The new program would allow 2.5% of unemployment recipients to receive entrepreneurship training to start their own businesses, rather than looking for a job working for someone else. Delaware, Maine, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon already have similar programs.

“Senate Democrats and Republicans talk about ensuring NH workers have the skills and opportunities they need to succeed,” Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen said in a statement today. “Passing ‘Pathway to Work’ is a way to do that for unemployed people, particularly older more experienced workers, who are likely to exhaust their state benefits.” Read her statement here.

The bill now moves to the Finance Committee for review.

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