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Shawn Zeller is a senior writer for CQ Weekly. He is responsible for the magazine's Vantage Point section and writes about a variety of topics including lobbying, politics, regulation and civil service issues. In 2008, he helped cover the presidential campaign for Politifact.com, a joint project of CQ and the St. Petersburg Times that was awarded a 2009 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for its campaign coverage.
Zeller came to CQ in June 2005 after two years as a staff correspondent with Government Executive magazine. There, he covered government human resources issues and civil service reform. Prior to that, he was a reporter for National Journal for six years. In that role, he covered lobbying and developed the magazine's semi-annual top 10 survey of Washington lobbying firms.
Zeller is a 1997 graduate of Harvard College where he earned a degree in American History and Literature. He's from Boston originally.
A crucial moment in the debate this past month over the National Security Agencyís access to Americansí phone records in terrorism investigations came on May 20, two days before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to squelch House legislation that would restrict that access.
Senators brushed off Majority Leader Mitch McConnellís concerns about the viability of requiring the National Security Agency to go to the phone companies to get records in terrorism investigations and easily passed the USA Freedom Act last week.
Handing Mitch McConnell his biggest legislative defeat since he became majority leader this year, senators voted down all of the Kentuckianís amendments to Patriot Act reauthorization legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he would permit a vote on House-passed legislation to restrict the National Security Agency's authority to review data about Americans' phone calls.
"I certainly think we ought to allow a vote on the House-passed bill," said McConnell, R-Ky. "If there aren't enough votes to pass that, we need to look at an alternative."
The House passed the bill, known as the USA Freedom Act, last week by a vote of 338-88, putting considerable pressure on McConnell to allow a vote on the Senate companion by Republican Mike Lee of Utah. It would reauthorize section 215 of the 2001 Patriot Act, the provision that undergirds the NSA program, but set new limits on it.
McConnell opposes the House bill because it would bar the NSA from continuing its current practice of collecting records of all Americans' phone calls in its own database.
The Obama administrationís plan to relinquish U.S. control of the Internetís architecture to a group of international stakeholders isnít going over well on Capitol Hill.
House Republicans are pushing legislation, known as the Dotcom Act, that aims to give Congress a say in the terms of the handover of the Internetís address system to international stakeholders.
Neither cybersecurity bill passed by the House last week would require that companies share information about cyber-threats. Itís voluntary.
The House passed not one, but two, bills last week to provide immunity from consumer lawsuits to companies that share with each other, and with the government, information about cyber-threats and attacks on their networks.
Lawmakers use congressional hearings and letters to wield influence over corporate mergers - and that was† certainly the case with Sen. Al Franken and the now-failed Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal.
After the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., last August and the protests against police brutality that ensued, it seemed a bipartisan consensus had emerged in Washington that something was deeply wrong with law enforcement in majority-black communities. Protesters demanded Congress correct disparities in policing that make it far more likely for a black person to die in custody than a white one.
Republicans took the Senate in 2014 by stressing the data that CQ Roll Callís presidential support vote study revealed: Democrats in red states were sticking close to President Barack Obama. So hereís a surprise: the new GOP majority in 2015 is voting Obamaís way as often as they ever have.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo., has been frustrated in his attempts to get Congress to move on an overhaul of police practices.
When Congress last reauthorized the Patriot Act in 2011, it went fairly easily. A majority of House Democrats objected, but support was strong among House Republicans and in both parties in the Senate. But lawmakers began to have second thoughts last year.
With key provisions of the Patriot Act set to expire on June 1, conservative advocacy groups are telling Republican lawmakers they should make significant changes to the governmentís authority to collect data about Americans.
As lobbying coalitions go, United for Patent Reform looks fierce as it wades into whatís expected to be one of 2015ís highest-profile lobbying duels in Congress.
The United for Patent Reform coalition has to win over congressional Democrats, who hold the key to getting a patent bill out of Congress, as well as Senate Republicans, who must feel confident the issue is important enough to risk bringing up in the face of potential Democratic roadblocks.
Republicans often push voluntary programs to avert the need for new regulations, with mixed success. In the case of Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Ajit Paiís campaign to get hotels to allow direct 911 calls from their rooms, so far so good.
Although 7 out of 10 emergency calls are made from cellphones, the location data sent to help 911 responders go to the right place is notoriously inaccurate. In response to an outcry from members of Congress, the Federal Communications Commission is trying to fix the problem. But itís going to be a slow process.
Your average House member represented 710,767 people in 2010. The same lawmaker represented 469,088 people in 1970. Despite the 52 percent increase in constituents, each House member today can have no more than 18 staff members, a limit that hasnít changed since 1975.
Members of the Capitol Hill press corps are pushing for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to reinstate weekly ďpen and padĒ briefings to discuss the agenda, a tradition that ended with former Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.
The Senate Appropriations Committee took to Twitter to solicit ideas for an upcoming hearing on federal investments in innovation.
Updated 4:45 p.m. | The House will vote next week on legislation to bar federal funding for abortions, Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced on Wednesday.
Senior House Democrats are warning that they could withhold pivotal votes Thursday on the emerging budget agreement if Republican leaders donít agree to put a three-month extension of unemployment insurance into the package.
Updated 10:10 p.m. | Former Marine Seth Moultonís campaign announced Thursday that two top Democratic consulting firms have joined his effort to unseat six-term Rep. John F. Tierney, D-Mass.
The National Building Museum is bringing back one of its most popular exhibits, air-conditioned mini-golf courses, from Memorial Day, May 27, to Labor Day, Sept. 2. And itís bringing along some smoked meat and beer.