Is it breezy in here or is the combined sighs of relief we’re feeling from college students and parents now that the Congress has reached a compromise on student loan rates? After weeks of the Senate trying to wangle a way to retroactively keep those rates down, the House voted yesterday to approve a compromise from the Senate, which will tie interest rates to the dips and dives of the financial markets. [More]
If you’re looking for a good read tonight, try curling up with a cup of herbal tea, some Nilla Wafers, and the PDF of the House Health Reform bill. (warning: opens extremely large PDF) If 1,018 pages is too much reading for tonight, you can look over this one-page PDF on the public insurance option included in the bill, or read first impressions from Consumers Union and the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein. [Consumer Reports Health]
The House Energy and Commerce Committee just approved comprehensive food safety reform, setting it up for consideration on the House floor in the coming months. The Food Safety Enhancement Act was approved by voice vote, indicating bipartisan support and suggesting a relatively smooth passage through the entire House.
The Food and Drug Administration might actually be able to protect us from dangerous food if Congress passes a bill recently circulated by six powerful members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The draft legislation would finally empower the FDA to quarantine suspect foods and slap violators with both civil fines and criminal charges.
The House Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law is currently holding a hearing on forced arbitration and credit cards, appropriately titled “Federal Arbitration Act: Is the Credit Card Industry Using It To Quash Legal Claims?” Our friends at Public Citizen will be testifying. You can view (or at least listen to) the Real Player stream here.
The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights is back in the news, and with Congress considering the legislation, we offer a refresher on what’s in this bill and why it’s important.
The House this week voted to empower the FDA to regulate tobacco, just in case people still smoke even after new taxes push the cost of cigarettes to over $9 per pack and the recession bankrupts everyone. Under the measure, which passed 298-112, the FDA would be able to set nicotine levels, control cigarette advertising, and require companies to provide a full list of cigarette ingredients. As usual, the killjoys in the Senate may force the House to smoke a light version of the cigarette bill…
The Senate’s Sergeant at Arms, Terry Gainer, joined Facebook to deliver a picture perfect apology to the survivors of the so-called Purple Tunnel of Doom, a group of several thousand people who were kept out of President Obama’s inauguration even though they had tickets. It takes a superior apology to address a colossal failure, and Gainer certainly delivered. The sincerity and completeness of the apology easily make it one of the best mea culpas we’ve ever seen.
After failing to get the required two-third majority on Wednesday, the House is expected next week to pass legislation delaying the digital television transition to June 12, according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. The Senate has already voted to extend the deadline, and President Obama has indicated he will sign the bill.
Congress may soon help the 1.76 million consumers anxiously waiting for their $40 digital TV converter coupons. According to Congress Daily, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is drafting legislation to push back the February 17 digital television transition deadline as requested last week by both Consumers Union and the incoming Obama Administration.
The Auto Bailout Bill passed House yesterday, but is expected to encounter strong Republican resistance in the Senate.
Congressional negotiators agreed in principle last night to a $700 billion bailout package. The bill is currently being transformed into draft legislation that can be voted on
CNN says that a deal has been reached — sort of. A bipartisan counterproposal to Bush’s $700 billion bailout plan has been drafted. The plan calls for caps on executive pay, and provides oversight on the Treasury’s actions.
Consumers were finally allowed this week to testify in favor of a proposed Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights without being forced to sign waivers allowing their creditors to release private financial records to the public. The three cardholders who testified lambasted their credit card companies for penalizing them even though they abided by their cardholder agreements.