With all the hoopla and media attention now being devoted presidential politics, it would be easy to overlook the importance of Congress, which possesses more powers than the president. Yet how much do you know about your congressmen. To learn about how they actually vote based on the U.S. Constitution, check out The New American's "Freedom Index"!

For each of the past three years, Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has published his annual Wastebook, and each year the press has had a field day digging into the 200-page report to expose the most outrageous, wasteful, and annoying projects Congress is funding with taxpayer monies. In 2010, for instance, Coburn’s report noted that $200,000 went to research that studied why political candidates “make vague statements,” while his 2011 report exposed squandering of $700,000 to study cow burps, robot dragons, and “bridges to nowhere.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is trying to get Congress, after the November elections, to pass into law language that would preempt from the states the right to regulate Internet gambling and would instead provide for federal regulation of this activity — benefiting his home state.

Those concerned about U.S. sovereignty have worried that Democrats would try to ram certain UN agreements — the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) — through the Senate during the lame-duck session following the November elections. What they may not have anticipated, however, is that they would try to sneak those treaties past their colleagues by other means.

The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute says that’s what Sen. Richard Durbin attempted during a sparsely attended session on the evening of Sept. 20. C-FAM reports: “With just a few people on the Senate floor, [Durbin] tried to pass the Disability treaty by unanimous consent.” Had he succeeded, the treaty would have been ratified with no recorded vote. Fortunately, Sen. Mike Lee was there when Durbin tried to pull this stunt — and put a stop to it.

During the overnight Senate session that resulted in the passage of a “de facto declaration of war” on Iran and a stopgap bill that funded the federal government through March, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) tried to push through a vote on next year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), as well.