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As the debates surrounding climate change, trade and health care legislation heat up on Capitol Hill, Public Citizen has been busy urging lawmakers to craft bills that truly benefit the public. News highlights below.

 Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, was quoted in a Reuters story on the “cap-and-trade” climate legislation that is fast approaching a House vote. Slocum spoke on the weakened bill, expressing doubts on the measure’s ability, in its current form, to benefit low-income energy consumers: “Language tailored to retail rate payers was absent any sort of specific language that set aside a certain amount of benefits for household ratepayers… we’re not satisfied with the way the current language is structured,” he said.

Roll Call (subscription only) reported on the TRADE Act, the pending trade law that would re-open international trade agreements and provide an opportunity to create real progress. Kate Ackley reports:

Lori Wallach, director of [Public Citizen’s] Global Trade Watch, said anyone in favor of continuing international trade should get behind the [Rep. Mike] Michaud proposal.

“It lays out, going forward, what a good agreement should look like,” she said. It would correct previous agreements that are “packed with corporate protections” and give trade critics their own pro-active agenda, Wallach said.

In a Philadelphia Inquirer story about the federal indictment of a maker of bone-mending cement for illegally promoting the product for off-label uses, Public Citizen’s Dr. Peter Lurie, deputy director of our Health Research Group, weighed in. “It’s an attempt to do an end-run around the approval process,” said Lurie. Miriam Hill reports:

The indictment casts a spotlight on the cozy and lucrative relationships between doctors and makers of drugs and medical devices. The allegations, if true, also illustrate how a company can exploit regulatory gray areas to boost sales while undermining patient safety.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe, M.D., Public Citizen’s acting president, appeared on PBS’s Nightly Business Report to discuss the new tobacco law signed by President Obama. Dr. Wolfe said the law finally gives the FDA the authority to get tough on tobacco companies.

In Alabama, disclosure of that states’ Congress members’ millions of dollars in personal assets has raised questions about how connected these affluent public servants can possibly be with their struggling constituents. The Press-Register’s Sean Reilly quotes Public Citizen’s Craig Homan: “This will affect many aspects of public policy,” [said Holman.] “They don’t know the fear of having a child who is sick and you’ve just lost your job and don’t have insurance.”

Flickr photo by brianbutko.