You know how Republicans always talk about how their pro-big business bills help small businesses, though of course they don't? Well, H.R. 2568, the Fairness and Transparency in Contracting Act of 2009, would actually do something for small businesses -- in essence, by narrowing the definition of "small business" so that federal contracts actually go to small businesses. Apparently a lot of very big businesses get boatloads of federal contacts intended for small businesses. You can see by the bill's date, of course, that it hasn't moved very far in the last year or so, even in a Democrat-controlled Congress. But the American Small Business League still provides an action page supporting H.R. 2568. ASBL's page is very good: it doesn't provide a handy emailing tool or anything, but it does provide phone numbers for relevant Congressional committee chairs/ranking members, and it also provides a template for the letter you'd write to your Congressfolk. Let's see if we can get this bill moving.
Meanwhile, the House voted 255-159 in favor of H.R. 847, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 -- but it did not pass! How can this be? Well, the House voted to "suspend the rules and pass the bill," which action requires a two-thirds majority. The bill seems fairly non-controversial to me -- it would help 9.11 first responders get proper medical care, and help settle 9.11-related medical claims. But the House Republicans apparently won the day by, get this, claiming that the bill would create a massive new entitlement program. How do Republicans think this will work, politically? I guess they're hoping "liberal" media newsreaders won't ask the simple question, "are folks who got sick because they were heroes on 9.11 entitled to decent medical care or not?" You may want to call your House Rep and demand another vote, and then call your Senator and put them on notice that you won't tolerate any "massive entitlement" or "we just think the bill needs more scrutiny" shenanigans from them, either.
Finally, the House plans to vote today on H.R. 3534, the CLEAR Act, which would establish new regulations for protecting rivers and other waterways from, oh, hypothetically, a nightmare spillageddon. This CLEAR Act should not be confused with the Cantwell/Collins CLEAR Act that would establish a cap-and-trade regime, nor the Charlie Norwood CLEAR Act that provides for "criminal alien removal." H.R. 3534 would fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation trust fund, and would also take some steps toward forcing oil/gas corporations to comply with environmental laws, though I presume we'd still need the DiGette/Casey bill (H.R. 2766/S. 1215) to close the gas loophole fully. The bill would also establish an Office of Federal Energy and Minerals Leasing within the Department of the Interior; right-wingers will no doubt complain about another new bureaucracy within the bureaucracy, but leasing is a big deal now and it's certainly overdue for its own office. American Rivers provides the contact tool.