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For the first time in history, more than half of Congress—you know, that collection of elected officials whose job it is to represent the interests of everyday Americans—is made up of millionaires. According to new findings from the Center for Responsive Politics, 268 of 534 of those currently serving in Congress are millionaires at a time when the median household income in the country they create legislation for is about $53,000 a year. And, when they aren’t shutdown because of internal squabbles, these millionaire public “servants” work an average of only three days a week. As the executive director of the Center noted, the stats reflect a reality of our modern democratic system. “It's undeniable that in our electoral system, candidates need access to wealth to run financially viable campaigns, and the most successful fundraisers are politicians who swim in those circles to begin with" ... Discuss

 

This video, from the quirky educational YouTube channel C.G.P. Grey, attempts to answer the surprisingly complicated question, “How many countries are there?” By trying to get to the bottom of a seemingly simple inquiry, in just five minutes, the clip uncovers a series of global diplomatic issues that make it basically impossible to know the actual answer … Discuss

 

Narrowly avoiding the deadline to increase the debt ceiling, last night lawmakers agreed to end the government shutdown. Had the shutdown stretched into a 17th day (with Congress not approving a debt ceiling increase), the U.S. government would soon not have the ability to pay for commitments like Social Security and veterans' benefits. Because of last night’s deal, hundreds of thousands of federal employees can now return to work and will start receiving paychecks. So, what did the shutdown accomplish? Aside from costing the American economy an estimated $24 billion, essentially, nothing. The Affordable Care Act, which was originally a point of contention, was pretty much unchanged. The only notable tweak to the new insurance program is that the government must confirm that who people receive federal health care subsidies are eligible. Even some of the lawmakers who originally orchestrated the shutdown strategy conceded that it was basically a failure. House Speaker John Boehner told a radio station in his home state, "We fought the good fight; we just didn't win." Before your faith in the legislative process is restored too greatly, we are reminded that lawmakers will once again have to approve government funding in January, meaning we could be heading for the same sort of stand-off again in just a few months … Discuss

 
It's easy to blame Congress, but their struggle highlights something familiar to us all. Read More
 

The Senate has passed an immigration reform bill that would give 11 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship and allocate $30 billion for new border security measures. The new bill even managed to garner some bi-partisan support, with 14 Republicans voting to pass the measure on a 68-32 tally. President Obama said that the Senate vote helps in "bringing us a critical step closer to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all." The new immigration reform legislation could still fall in the House of Representatives, where Speaker John Boehner has said that he doesn’t even plan to bring the bill to the floor unless it receives support from a majority of Republicans … Discuss

 

A day after a marathon filibuster session ultimately prevented the Texas Senate from passing a bill that would limit abortions in the state, Gov. Rick Perry called for a special session on July 1 to once again vote on the legislation. He has said that if passed, he will sign it into law. The bill would make most abortions performed after the 20th week of pregnancy—the point at which some doctors believe the unborn baby can feel pain—against the law, impose tighter standards on abortion doctors and could force many abortion providers in the state to close. During a vote yesterday, Sen. Wendy Davis staged a 10-hour filibuster in an effort to run out the clock on the legislative period. Following the filibuster, the chamber became so chaotic with chants and shouts from protestors that the Senate was unable to conduct a vote … Discuss