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Credit rating Industry wrote provision that undercuts credit-rating overhaul

Moody'sMoments before the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to overhaul the credit ratings industry seven years ago, Republican and Democratic sponsors took turns touting its promise for ending an entrenched oligopoly.

The bill, they said, should break the vicelike dominance of three agencies – Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, Moody’s Investors Service and the smaller Fitch Ratings – in an industry that serves as a crucial watchdog over the nation’s financial system.

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30 Democratic House members on trip to Israel paid for by AIPAC offshoot

Patrick MurphyDemocratic U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel, Patrick Murphy and Joe Garcia of Florida are in Israel for the week along with more than 30 other Democratic House members — trips paid for by an arm of a powerful lobbying group.

Next week, freshmen Republicans head off on the same trip, paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation, which Frankel in a news release described as an “independent, nonprofit charitable organization.”

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House GOP Defunds ACORN Yet Again, Even Though ACORN Does Not Exist

JOhn BoehnerThe House GOP quietly blocked funding for ACORN last week, even though the anti-poverty organization has long since been both defunded and disbanded.

The legislative assault on ACORN, which shut down in 2010, was included in a Department of Defense appropriations bill that cleared the House on Thursday. Although the bill passed by a broad, bipartisan margin of 315-97, it garnered attention for an amendment proposed by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) that would have stopped the government from collecting masses of phone call metadata without reasonable suspicion.

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US House votes against NSA limits

House rejects NSA limitsThe US House of Representatives has narrowly voted to continue collecting data on US phone calls in the first legislative move on the programme.

In a 217-205 vote, lawmakers rejected an effort to restrict the National Security Agency's (NSA) ability to collect electronic information. The NSA's chief had lobbied strongly against the proposed measure.

The vote saw an unusual coalition of conservatives and liberal Democrats against the programme.

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Darrell Issa made nearly $60M in 2012

Darrell IssaRep. Darrell Issa made nearly $60 million in 2012, according to a financial disclosure he filed with the House earlier this month.

The California Republican, who earned at least $59.4 million last year, is one of the richest men in Congress. Issa was worth more than $355 million at the end of 2012 — an amount that appears to have jumped roughly $100 million since his last filing.

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House GOP defense bill blocks Guantanamo closing

GOP block Gitmo closingRebuffing President Barack Obama's latest plea, House Republicans on Monday proposed keeping open the military-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by barring the administration from transferring its terror suspects to the United States or a foreign country such as Yemen.

The provisions dealing with the fate of the remaining 166 prisoners are part of a defense policy bill drafted by Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif. The chairman released the bill Monday, two days before Republicans and Democrats on the committee will vote on it.

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Banks’ Lobbyists Help in Drafting Financial Bills to Soften Regulations

Lobbyists draft finance billsBank lobbyists are not leaving it to lawmakers to draft legislation that softens financial regulations. Instead, the lobbyists are helping to write it themselves.

One bill that sailed through the House Financial Services Committee this month — over the objections of the Treasury Department — was essentially Citigroup’s, according to e-mails reviewed by The New York Times. The bill would exempt broad swathes of trades from new regulation.

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