Agribusiness Subsidy Cuts Could Save Food Stamps in the Farm Bill

Last week, the House broke with four decades of congressional tradition and narrowly passed a federal Farm Bill, 216-208, without any Democratic support. The break in tradition came when the House stripped nutrition programs – notably food stamps, vital to nearly one in seven struggling Americans – out of the bill after many Republicans voted against an earlier version because they felt it did not cut enough out of the food stamp program.

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Key Transparency Fund Threatened Again in House Budget

A key fund for government transparency programs is once again facing cuts. On July 10, the House Financial Services and General Government appropriations subcommittee approved a bill that provides no funding for the Electronic Government Fund (E-Gov Fund), the driving force behind many recent open government innovations. Instead, the bill merges the E-Gov Fund with another fund and cuts their combined funding level 15 percent from last year.

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Obama Vows to Finalize Carbon Standards, Other Safeguards in Climate Change Plan

In a press conference on June 25, President Obama revealed his plan to address climate change. Delivering on a promise he made nearly four months ago during his State of the Union address, the president said that if Congress failed to protect future generations from the impacts of climate change, he would.

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Congressional Briefing Debunks Anti-Regulatory Myths Behind "Reform" Bills

Last week, members of the House hosted an expert panel discussion to set the record straight on recurring anti-regulatory myths and dangerous legislative proposals. Aptly titled "Anti-Regulatory Myths: What Regulatory Critics Don't Tell You," the congressional briefing highlighted the importance of much-needed safeguards and debunked the most common misconceptions surrounding the regulatory process and the impacts of rules.

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Transparency and Trade Agreements: If the Public Wouldn't Like It, Don't Sign It

On June 7, a panel of federal judges ruled that international trade deals can be exempted from federal disclosure laws. This decision, coupled with the unprecedented secrecy surrounding the negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (which kicks off the 18th round of negotiations in two weeks), strips the American people of their voice and overrides the principle that public support or opposition of such agreements should guide U.S. policy.

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New Steps May Increase Transparency of Federal Contracts and Grants

A new policy could provide the public with better information about federal contracts and grants. On June 12, the Office of Federal Financial Management, a division of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), issued a memo directing agencies to improve the quality of data posted for public access on USAspending.gov.

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Defense Savings Could Partially Offset Sequestration

Sequestration's blunt approach to spending reductions is bad policy, and legislators from both parties have recognized this and proposed targeted savings at the Department of Defense (DOD) as a partial alternative. The amount of money at stake is significant. DOD and other defense-related spending typically represents more than 50 percent of federal discretionary spending each year.

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Return of the Regulatory Accountability Act: A Veiled Threat to Public Protections

On May 23, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) reintroduced the Regulatory Accountability Act (RAA), a serious threat to environmental standards, workplace safety rules, public health, and financial reform regulations. The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2013, (S. 1029, and its counterpart in the House, H.R. 2122), is the latest version of a bill first introduced in 2011 and then again in 2012. The seemingly innocuous legislation is a drastic overhaul of the Administrative Procedure Act that would undermine the regulatory process. Advertised by its sponsors as a bipartisan proposal to improve rulemaking, the RAA would actually do the opposite.

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Only a Trickle of New Rules, Not a Wave

The business community and its allies on Capitol Hill have warned for over a year that a "tsunami" of new regulations will be flowing out of the Obama administration, undermining the anemic growth of the economy. To prevent this imagined emergency, they continue to propose draconian "reforms" of the regulatory system – changes that would further delay and obstruct the work of federal agencies attempting to implement the laws they were established to enforce.

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Explosion at Louisiana Chemical Plant is the Latest in a String of Chemical Accidents

On June 13, an explosion and fire occurred at a petrochemical plant in Geismar, LA (just south of Baton Rouge), killing one person, injuring at least 70, and forcing residents within a two-mile radius of the plant to stay indoors. The Williams Geismar olefins plant explosion was just the latest in a string of chemical accidents, highlighting the risk that hazardous chemicals can pose to workers and communities and the urgent need to shift to safer chemicals.

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