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Tuesday, Nov 25th

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Republican Congressman Proposes Tracking Freedom of Information Act Requests

Representative Darrell IssaMr. Issa, a California Republican and the new chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, says he wants to make sure agencies respond in a timely fashion to Freedom of Information Act requests and do not delay them out of political considerations.

But his extraordinary request worries some civil libertarians. It “just seems sort of creepy that one person in the government could track who is looking into what and what kinds of questions they are asking,” said David Cuillier, a University of Arizona journalism professor and chairman of the Freedom of Information Committee at the Society of Professional Journalists. “It is an easy way to target people who he might think are up to no good.”

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Time to end foreign aid to Israel: ‘We just can’t do it anymore,’ Sen. Paul warns

Israel has been, by far, the largest recipient of US foreign aid anywhere in the world. Since the inception of Israel's close diplomatic relationship with the US all the way through 2008, Americans gave Israel over $103 billion, according to the American Educational Trust.

"What I'm concerned about," Paul said, is that "if we do nothing -- if we coast along as we've been coasting -- entitlements and interest will consume the whole debt within a decade; will consume the whole budget. There will be nothing left for anything else. My fear is we could have a precipitous calamity where nobody gets any checks from government, so security fails, Medicare fails, unless we start making the difficult decisions now.

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How Congress helped thwart Obama's plan to close Guantanamo

How Congress helped thwart Obama's plan to close GuantanamoTwo years after the newly minted Obama administration moved to undo what had become one of the most controversial legacies of the George W. Bush presidency by ordering the closure of the prison camps at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a trove of State Department documents made public by the website WikiLeaks is providing new information about why that effort failed.

Key among the factors, the cables suggest: Congress' refusal to allow any of the captives to be brought to the United States.

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Republicans kill global warming committee

The kick-off of the 112th Congress on Wednesday also marked the end of an era in the House – the demise of a committee devoted solely to climate change and energy issues. The Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, created by Nancy Pelosi in 2006, has been shuttered under the new Republican leadership. In the final days of the committee, staffers released a report on what the committee accomplished in its brief tenure – an epitaph of sorts.

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PROMISES, PROMISES: GOP drops some out of the gate

House Speaker John BoehnerRepublicans have already violated some of the vows they made in taking stewardship of the House.

Their pledge to cut $100 billion from the budget in one year won't be kept.

And for a coming vote seeking to repeal the health care overhaul, the first major initiative of the new Congress, lawmakers won't be allowed to propose changes to the legislation despite Republican promises to end such heavy-handed tactics from the days of Democratic control.

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GOP bends its own new House rules

Kevin McCarthy (left) and Eric CantorJust hours after taking control of the House, Republicans passed a sweeping set of rules promising transparency and reform.

But the new majority is already showing these promises aren’t exactly set in stone.

After calling for bills to go through a regular committee process, the bill that would repeal the health care law will not go through a single committee. Despite promising a more open amendment process for bills, amendments for the health care repeal will be all but shut down. After calling for a strict committee attendance list to be posted online, Republicans backpedaled and ditched that from the rules. They promised constitutional citations for every bill but have yet to add that language to early bills.

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Outgoing GOP Senator Joins Lobbying Law Firm

Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.)Outgoing Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) is headed for a pay raise, announcing on Tuesday he'll be joining a high-profile law firm that lobbies on transportation issues. While in Congress, Bond served as ranking member on a subcommittee that doled out transportation funds. Now he is joining the St. Louis-based law firm Thompson Coburn as a partner.

"I joined this firm to be a lawyer, not to be a lobbyist," Bond told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday, pointing to ethics rules that ban former lawmakers from lobbying for two years after leaving the chamber. "I do not plan to be involved in lobbying Congress."

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