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Tag Archive: Capitol Words

What’s in a name? Republican- versus Democrat-speak on gay marriage

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How something is described often affects how people react to it. So it's interesting, as the Supreme Court begins two days of arguments on how to and who can define marriage, to see how the lawmakers across the street have talked about the same issue.

A look through Sunlight's Capitol Words shows a clear partisan divide: Democrats tend to use the term "gay marriage" while Republicans prefer "same-sex marriage."  As you can see in the chart above, the latter term occurs more frequently in congressional debate. The full Capitol Words analysis gives us the party breakdown: Democrats account ...

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In floor speeches, lawmakers talk about their guns

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During debate on the Senate floor over the Compromise of 1850, Henry Foote of MIssissippi pulled out a pistol and waved it around, threatening another senator, Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri. Lawmakers are no longer allowed to bring guns on the floor, but plenty own them, as a survey of Congress by USA Today shows. And they are of course allowed to talk about their guns. In fact, they talk about them in speeches on the floors of the House and Senate, according to a search of Capitol Words.

Interestingly, many of the lawmakers often pull out their gun toting ...

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Gun Control and Gun Rights: Legislation, Policy and Influence

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The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary has brought gun policy back to the forefront of our national conversation. As a nonpartisan, nonprofit Sunlight takes no stance on the issue, but we have put together a collection of resources looking at the legislation, policy and influence around gun rights and gun control, plus the groups and lawmakers involved. The Gun Lobby Sunlight Foundation Senior Fellow Lee Drutman reviews the political influence of the National Rifle Association and the leading gun control group, the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence. Read his full analysis in this blog post. Lee notes that when it comes to the debate on gun policy, Congress is pretty much only hearing from one side. The NRA spends 66 times what the Brady Campaign spends on lobbying, and 4,143 times what the Brady Campaign spends on campaign contributions. Since 2011, the NRA spent at least $24.28 million: $16.83 million through its political action committee, plus $7.45 million through its affiliated Institute for Legislative Action. According to Influence Explorer records, the Brady Campaign spent $5,800 this election cycle and reported $60,000 in lobbying costs.

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A revealing glance at the freshmen of the 113th Congress

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Image of National Journal graphic showing newly elected members of CongressIn stark contrast to the current crop of House freshmen, which we reported on extensively earlier this year, the soon-to-be newly sworn in members of the 113th Congress is considerably more balanced politically; however, analysts warn that it will likely be the most divided class yet.

Of the 89 new House members taking their oaths of office for the first time in January, 2011, after an election marked by a Tea Party tide, just nine were Democrats. So far this year (a few races remain to be called), there are 74 first-timers slated to take office next year, 44 Democrats ...

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Arlen Specter 1930-2012: In his own words

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Arlen Specter's Capitol Words Profile

Sometimes irascible but ever the embodiment of political pragmatism, former Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania lost his battle with cancer Sunday. A Democrat-turned-Republican-returned-Democrat, he represented his state in the Senate longer than any other Keystone State lawmaker until he lost a primary race in 2010. 

A look at Specter's profile on Sunlight's Capitol Words, which tracks lawmakers' speeches on the floor of Congress, reveals a rarity in contemporary politics: a politician who moved easily across party lines. His most oft-uttered word was the name of another senator, Tom Harkin of Iowa, who for most of Specter's 30-year ...

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