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Sen. Demint (R-SC) Seeks Transparency in Senate Votes

Press Release from Sen. Demint–5/1/09

DeMint Leads Bipartisan Effort to Make Senate Votes More Transparent

Democrats and Republicans urge modernizing Senate website with easily searchable XML vote database

May 1, 2009 – WASHINGTON, D.C – Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, sent a bipartisan letter to the Senate Rules Committee asking it to modernize the way it publishes Senate roll call votes on the internet. Specifically, the letter requests that the Secretary of the Senate make votes available to the public using the XML format, which would allow citizens, government watchdog groups, and the press to immediately access and analyze Senate roll call votes. Senator DeMint was joined in signing the letter by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut), John Cornyn (R-Texas), John Ensign (R-Nevada), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and David Vitter (R-Louisiana).

“As Americans increasingly turn to the internet for information, it’s important that the United States Senate continue to modernize the way it provides the public with information,” said Senator DeMint. “Voting is the most basic and the most important Senate action, yet we’re making it unnecessarily difficult for the public to access this information. What we’re asking for here is a simple change that will have a profound impact on the Senate’s transparency and accountability.”

On Monday, POLITICO reported on how the Senate has fallen behind the House of Representatives in terms of vote transparency:

When it comes to roll call votes, transparency advocates of the technological bent say the House is worlds better than the Senate because the House clerk provides the XML files behind the votes — language that looks like a database to a computer and allows developers to easily reuse the data on their own websites.

The Senate clerk’s office has resisted providing that information, despite being pressed by open government advocates, said Wonderlich.

The reason they’ve been given: “The secretary of the Senate has cited a general standing policy … that they’re not supposed to present votes in a comparative format, that senators have the right to present their votes however they want to,” Wonderlich said. “It’s pretty bad.”

When POLITICO sought to confirm this reasoning, the secretary’s office directed inquiries to the Senate Rules Committee. A spokeswoman at the Rules Committee said she was unable to find someone who could answer the question.

J.H. Snider, president of iSolon.org, a think tank dedicated to using information technology to further democracy, said there’s a qualitative difference between making information public and making it “meaningfully” public — that is, in the easiest, most logical and most timely way.

The full text of the letter is below:

April 30, 2009

Senator Charles Schumer, Chairman Senator Bob Bennett, Ranking Member
Committee on Rules and Administration Committee on Rules and Administration
305 Russell Senate Office Building 305 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators Schumer and Bennett:

We are writing today to ask you to change the Senate’s policy on the publishing of roll call votes so they are made available to the public in an XML format, in addition to what is provided on the Senate website today.

As Americans increasingly turn to the Internet to stay informed, the Senate as a body has a duty to promote timely and accurate reporting of our actions through the most current and effective technologies. Voting is the most basic Senate action and is of crucial importance to the public. Yet the Secretary of the Senate is constrained by an antiquated policy on how roll call votes can be published on the Senate website.

The Secretary of the Senate and the Sergeant at Arms have made strides in the development of the Senate website and the lobbying disclosure database. However, it is our understanding that the Secretary feels constrained not to use “XML” for online voting records.

It is crucial that the Senate add XML. XML is more than merely a data format; it promotes the ability of citizens, watchdog groups, and the press to access and analyze Senate roll call votes. The addition of XML will allow the public to use computers to search, sort, and visualize voting records in new ways. While the costs associated with this transition would be negligible, the impact on transparency and accountability would be profound.

It is troubling that the current policy makes it more difficult for the public to access and disseminate information about Senate roll call votes. This policy has created a situation where outside groups are forced to create databases that are more likely to contain errors and omissions. The public should not have to resort to subscription-based or mistake-ridden databases to easily obtain this information.

It has been suggested that the policy may have been implemented originally because “Senators want to provide their voting records to their constituents themselves.” The suggestion that the Senate would intentionally hamstring the distribution of roll call votes so Senators could put a better spin on them is concerning. The public is capable of interpreting our votes on its own.

The House of Representatives has been using XML for approximately five years with no adverse effects. It is time for the Senate to change its policy on sharing XML data and make roll call vote information easily available to the public. Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to working with you improve the Senate’s legislative transparency in this way.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Jim DeMint
U.S. Senator David Vitter
U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman
U.S. Senator James Risch
U.S. Senator Richard Durbin
U.S. Senator John Cornyn
U.S. Senator John Ensign

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May 1, 2009 Posted by | Senate | , , , , | 2 Comments

Playing the Race Card in Burris Case


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#TCOT #diggcons

Well it’s finally happened. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has openly stated that racism is playing a part in the Senate’s unwillingness to seat the appointee of disgraced Democratic Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich, Roland Burris after he was turned away today and not allowed to take the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Hussein Obama.

“There is a strong constitutional and legal case for his seating,” he said. “The longer this process takes the more racialized this seat becomes and the more difficult it becomes for Democrats to hold it in 2010.”–Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL)

So, the seat is becoming racialized.

Michelle Malkin recognized this brewing beneath the surface here and here.

So the same nation that just elected an African-American to the highest office in the land is now refusing to let a poor little black man become a Senator because we’re a bunch of racists.  The saddest part is that too many people will buy this line of crap.


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January 6, 2009 Posted by | Corruption, Senate | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mr. Burris Goes to Washington


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#TCOT #diggcons

And in spite of all the controversy surrounding his appointment, he’s proclaiming himself the junior Senator from Illinois!

Unbelievable, well maybe not for the Democrats.

Will Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Democratic President-elect Barack Hussein Obama stand by their previous position that NO appointment by Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich?  Or is the concept that, given an opportunity, the good people of the land of “Honest Abe” will elect a Republican to BO’s vacated Senate seat enough to throw principles to the wind and accept the appointment of a governor charged with the worst political corruption since Watergate?

Things are beginning to look like the latter..  From the LA Times:

“I’m an old trial lawyer. There’s always room to negotiate,” said Reid, a Nevada Democrat, on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Translation:  Reid’s former statement was only made to make him appear principled at a time when many Americans were captivated by the Democratic corruption.  Now that many Americans have tuned out where this story’s concerned, the true Reid-without-principles is coming out and he may not oppose the scandal-plagued-Democratic-governor’s “choice” to fill BO’s seat.

Nothing coming from the Obama camp, he’s keeping apparently trying to avoid attention after yesterday’s announcement that his appoinment for Commerce Secretary, Democratic Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson, withdrew his name from consideration to deal with his own Pay-to-Play scandal.  (This crowd is starting to make Republicans’ look better and better all the time.)  We’ll have to wait until the 20th it appears, to find out whether or not his long-touted change meant anything more than a change in occupants for the White House.  Apparently, mum’s the word until then.

This Democratic power grab, coupled with the theft of the Senate election in Minnesota, should make it obvious to anyone that the party of the jackass will stop at nothing.  The constitution won’t stand in their way, voters won’t stand in their way, and the law won’t stand in their way as they attempt to build a supermajority in the upper chamber of Congress.  Should we look for attempts to expel or force the resignation of a sitting Republican Senator from a state with a Democratic Governor soon after 20  January?

I don’t put anything past these crooks.


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Related Posts

Burris press conference: I am the junior senator from Illinois–Michelle Malkin

January 5, 2009 Posted by | Corruption, Senate | , , , , , | 1 Comment

RNC Chairman Statement on Need for Illinois Special Election

WASHINGTON – Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Robert M. “Mike” Duncan released the following statement today.

“It’s extremely disappointing that Democratic leaders in Illinois are ignoring bipartisan calls for a special election to fill President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat.  Considering the scandal surrounding Governor Rod Blagojevich’s administration, a special election is the only way to credibly fill the seat.  I hope that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan puts good government before partisan politics, and will heed Senator Durbin’s call for a special election.”


To avoid the possibility that Illinois voters may choose to elect a Republican Senator to take

Blagojevich

Blagojevich

Obama’s vacated seat, Democrats in the Illinois Legislature are attempting to block a special election.

 

Even though both prominent Democrats (including Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL)and Republicans have called for a special election in the wake of recently exposed criminal activity of the state’s Democratic Governor, Rod Blagojevich, Illinois state Democratic legislators are seeking to deny their constituents an opportunity to vote for change.  Apparently, they approve of the status quo.

This article, from the Chicago-Sun Times’ blog, reports 2/3 of Illinois voters favor a special election.  Evidently, Democrats in the Illinois legislature don’t really care what the voters think!

If you’re an Illinois voter who wants a choice in who represents you in the US Senate, let your legislators know.  Contact them and tell them enough with partisan politics, the voters want a choice

List of Illinois State Senators*

List of Illinois State Representatives*

*Click your Senator’s or Representative’s name to find contact information.

December 16, 2008 Posted by | Corruption, Senate | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Follow Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) on Twitter

#TCOT:  C’mon folks.  Senator DeMint was a leader in the “Stop the Bailout” operation in the

Sen. DeMint (R-SC)

Sen. DeMint (R-SC)

Senate.  Every member of TCOT should be following him on Twitter.

From Senator DeMint’s blog:


Follow Jim DeMint on Twitter

December 9th, 2008

We know you are busy, so we don’t expect you to come to our site everyday. We are making it easier for you to stay up-to-date on the lastest DeMint news by getting more active on Twitter. Follow Senator DeMint @jimdemint.


Keep up the great work Senator! It’s great to know we still have some real conservatives on The Hill standing up for our values.

December 15, 2008 Posted by | GOP, Senate | , , , , | 1 Comment