Democracy

UPDATE: Sen. Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.) Dies

Update: Sen. [[Craig Thomas#Illness and death|Craig Thomas]] (R-Wyo.) died late on Monday, June 4 at the age of 74. Our condolences go out to his family.

[[Congresspedia]] is currently following two recent developments pertaining to members of Congress.

After a lengthy investigation, Rep. [[William Jefferson#Indictment|William Jefferson]] (D-La.) was indicted today on sixteen criminal counts which include racketeering, money laundering, wire fraud and conspiracy to solicit bribes by a public official. Jefferson allegedly accepted bribes ($90,000 was found in his freezer) to promote high-tech business ventures in Africa. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

In other news, Sen. [[Craig Thomas#Illness and death|Craig Thomas]] (R-Wyo.) is in "serious condition" at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Thomas, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2006, is undergoing a second round of chemotherapy, but his blood cancer has rejected treatment and he is suffering from an infection. He was elected to his third Senate term last November. If Thomas were to die or leave the Senate, the state Republican Party would select three candidates and forward those names to Democratic Gov. Dave Freudenthal, who would pick one as his replacement.

Congresspedia has more info on both [[William Jefferson#Indictment|Jefferson]] and [[Craig Thomas#Illness and death|Thomas]] on their respective profile pages. I encourage you to visit them, and improve them with further details.

Coming Up This Week in Congress: Immigration, Stem Cells and Afghanistan

Both the House and Senate are in session this week, with each chamber expected to debate and consider several important bills and resolutions. Highlights include:

  • The Senate will continue to debate a comprehensive immigration bill. Amendments expected to be introduced include several making it easier for employers or family members to sponsor green card applicants and one which would permanently ban immigrants who have received deportation notices from obtaining visas.
  • The House is expected to consider a Senate-passed bill which would lift President Bush’s 2001 ban on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. The House passed a similar stem-cell bill in January, but the Senate version includes additional language promoting alternative types of stem-cell research.
  • The House will take up the 10,000 Trained by 2010 Act, which would authorize the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award grants to higher education institutions that develop and offer educational and training programs for healthcare workers and professionals in new medical information technologies.
  • The House will consider the Afghanistan Freedom and Security Support Act (AFSSA), which would authorize $1.6 billion per year over the next three years for economic and security assistance programs in Afghanistan.

After the jump is a full listing of this week's Senate hearings, courtesy of GovTrack. The House is not in session until Tuesday (June 5), so hearings have not yet been made available.

Unhealthy Secrecy

The chairperson of the Best Medicines Coalition (BMC), Louise Binder, recently appeared before the Canadian parliament's health committee to argue the case for patients gaining access to newer and more expensive drugs. When asked who funded BMC, Binder told the committee that half its funding came from the government agency, Health Canada, and the remainder was from the drug industry.

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