On Tuesday, March 8, the U.S. Senate passed legislation that overhauls the nation’s patent system, allowing the Patent and Trademark Office more flexibility to have more control over its financing and implementing a system that rewards the first inventor to file a valid application. The legislation — America Invents Act — passed in the Senate easily and without issue, 95 to 5.
One of the most controversial political happenings of the political season, in the 112th Congress, is Republican Rep. Peter King’s launch of an inquiry probing the extent and nature of Radical Islam in the United States. Rep. King’s panel looks towards investigating radicalization in the American Muslim community, and Rep. King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, insists that the congressional hearings are "absolutely essential": "I am facing reality[;] my critics are not. Al Qaeda is changing its tactics. They realize that it's very difficult to attack from the outside[;] they're recruiting from within.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate failed to pass a non-binding “sense of the Senate” proposal that would have called on Congress to pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
In December, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a new set of regulations to establish its jurisdiction over the Internet in favor of “net neutrality” rules, despite the rejection of similar measures by Congress and the courts. According to members of the House of Representatives, however, those regulations may be short-lived, though action on them in the House has been delayed been Democratic leaders.
The Reign of the Czars, at least in the executive branch of the U.S. government, may be near an end. Congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.) offered an amendment that would block funding for the various "czars" — policy advisers appointed by the President who did not have to face formal confirmation by the U.S. Senate, and who cannot be impeached by the House of Representatives. The amendment (to the continuing resolution which keeps the federal government operating) passed the House February 17 by a vote of 249 to 171.