Inside Politics

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Supporters say they are more efficient and offer better services for less money, but critics assert that the government pays more for the plans than for traditional Medicare.

CONGRESS

Lawmakers renew push to shield intellectual property

A bipartisan group of lawmakers from both chambers of Congress Monday vowed to pass legislation giving the U.S. Justice Department new authority to go after foreign and domestic websites that sell pirated music and movies and counterfeit goods.

“Online infringement and the sale of counterfeit goods cost American creators, producers, and businesses billions of dollars and results in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, told reporters.

Intellectual property theft is “one of the greatest threats to our economy today” because of the big role that copyrights, patents and trademarks play in boosting U.S. exports and productivity, said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, Texas Republican.

“If we’re going to have a healthy economy, we need to have a healthy IP sector,” Mr. Smith said.

Mr. Leahy said he would push forward with a new version of a “rogue websites” bill that cleared his committee last year by a vote of 19-0 but did not get a vote in the full Senate.

LOBBYING

Former Ensign aide pleads not guilty

A former aide to Sen. John Ensign, Nevada Republican, is pleading not guilty to violating conflict of interest laws.

Douglas Hampton and his wife, Cynthia, worked together for Mr. Ensign but left three years ago during an affair between Mrs. Hampton and the congressman.

Mr. Hampton became a lobbyist and is charged with violating a yearlong ban on former staffers lobbying the Senate.

The judge found Mr. Hampton is now indigent and last week appointed public defender A.J. Kramer to his case.

Mr. Kramer said prosecutors have turned over hundreds of thousands of pages of evidence that he needs to review, so U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell set another hearing for July 1.

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