Senate passes government transparency bill

The Panem Senate became the first chamber to pass the government transparency bill championed by President Peeta Mellark (Liberty-D12), putting the bill one step closer to becoming law. The bill, though championed by the President, garnered larger than expected opposition from Liberty senators in the vote today.

The bill, which would impose a five-year ban on public officials lobbying after leaving office, a lifetime ban on public officials lobbying on behalf of foreign governments, and stiffer penalties for bribery of public officials and public officials engaging in insider trading, is now set to go to the House of Representatives, where it is uncertain to pass.

The vote breakdown is as follows:

Ayes (21): Bass (Lib-D1), Benson (Lib-Capitol), Canstrom (Lab-D9), Debroff (Lib-D11), Delacruz (Lib-D5), Delsont (Lib-D11), Ellsworth (Lib-D3), Garrett (Centre-D15)Harrison (Lib-D4), Newsom (Civic-D3), Kennedy (Civic-D6)Kramer (Civic-D6), Quaker (Lib-D12), Quirius (Lib-D5), Randall (Centre-D9), Richards (Lab-D10), Roydon (Centre-Capitol), Trent (Lib-D12), Wallace (Lab-D8), Walters (Lab-D10), Weston (Lib-D1)

Nays (11): Briscoe (Lib-D7), Folsom (Lib-D8), Hampton (Lib-D2), James (Lib-D2), Lémieux (Lib-D14), Oppenheim (Lib-D13), Sanford (Lib-D15), Talton (Lib-D13), Thibault (Lib-D14), Wallace (Lib-D4), Warner (Lib-D7)

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Senate confirms Jonathan Madison as Sec. of State, Valère Descoteaux as Sec. of Defense

The Senate confirmed today the last of the nominees put forward by President Peeta Mellark (Liberty-D12).

Jonathan Madison (Liberty-D4) officially will move from the Defense Department to the State Department, replacing longtime Secretary of State Celine Oswald (Liberty-D13). Secretary Madison, who served as Secretary of Defense for the first Everdeen administration, the Canth administration, the Wilson administration, and the first Mellark administration, has previously served in the role of Panem’s top diplomat in the second Everdeen administration. That time featured Madison manning the State Department during the Fourth World War, which led to a larger leadership role for Panem diplomatically during and following the conflict. Oswald has been elected as the Chairwoman of the Liberty National Committee since announcing her retirement as Secretary of State. Madison will now oversee an extremely active international scene as the Grecorussian Empire collapses and terrorism still persists as an international issue.

Valère Descoteaux (Liberty-D14) has also been confirmed today to replace Jonathan Madison as Secretary of Defense. Descoteaux currently serves as the junior senator from District 14, Panem’s only overseas district. He is the brother of current Secretary of the Treasury Rosalie Descoteaux, and the two made history today as this is the first time that siblings have served in the Cabinet together. District 14 is home to multiple military bases of strategic importance to the nation of Panem, providing defense against antagonistic nations in Europe, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia. Descoteaux also served as the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee while in the Senate, which forced Descoteaux to recuse himself from any votes on the committee and in the Senate pertaining to nominations for the Cabinet. Under Panem law and Senate rules and procedures, senators that are nominated for any position that must be considered by the Senate must recuse themselves from any voting that occurs on their nomination as it would constitute a conflict of interest. The pick of Descoteaux was considered to be a surprise by many observers, including some in the government and is likely to elevate the stature of Descoteaux in Panem politics by putting him in a much more public role as Secretary, which has been a common stepping-stone for a future federal run for public office.

Madison was confirmed by a voice vote. Descoteaux, however, was confirmed by a vote of 22-10, with only Liberty senators voting to confirm.

President Mellark announces government transparency initiatives

President Peeta Mellark (Liberty-D12) announced a set of government transparency initiatives today that would limit the amount of influence of interest groups, lobbyists, and corporate entities on the federal government.

The reforms would institute a five-year ban on Congressional, senatorial, or executive officials in the federal government from participating in lobbying activities on behalf of interest groups or corporate entities after an official leaves office. Such a reform would require Congressional approval at minimum to enforce such reforms on Congress but would not require Congressional approval for executive agencies to follow such guidelines. However, President Mellark is seeking that the ban be put in place across the board in the bill in order to set such reform into law.

In addition to the five-year ban, the reforms would also implement harsher penalties on officeholders who commit crimes such as bribery or insider trading as well as implement a lifetime ban on officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government. “No public official that serves the nation of Panem should be serving another country,” President Mellark remarked. “The standards for our public officials should be higher than the bar we have set in the past.”

The reception of the announcement has been mixed. While the Centre Party heralded the reforms and declared a “win against corruption,” multiple Liberty officials remain undecided or privately opposed to such reforms, calling them “excessive” and “political interference from Stonehaven.” While it appears likely that the bill will receive significant support, it is uncertain if this legislation will garner enough support from the Liberty and Conservative Parties to pass through Congress.

Speaker Wes Summerfield (Liberty-D4) and Senate Majority Leader Michael Debroff (Liberty-D11) announced their intentions to usher the bill through their chambers’ ethics committees in order to bring it to a vote on the floor at the earliest possible moment.

Senate confirms Wallace as Sec. of Homeland Security, Dalton as Sec. of Transportation

The Panem Senate confirmed two more of President Peeta Mellark (Liberty-D12)’s second-term Cabinet picks.

Mason Wallace, the former governor of District 7, was confirmed by the Senate to the post of Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security in a voice vote. Wallace takes over from longtime Secretary and Mellark family friend Haymitch Abernathy, who is retiring after a sixteen-year tenure at the Department. The Department of Homeland Security is considered one of the Cabinet’s most important posts, even though it lacks seniority in the presidential line of succession. Wallace previously served as the governor and lieutenant governor of District 7 and was defeated for reelection to that post this past cycle. He resigned the governorship in order to dedicate his time to his nomination process.

Sextimus Dalton, a transportation industry executive, was confirmed by the Senate to serve as the next Secretary of the Department of Transportation in another voice vote. Dalton, a Centre Party member, has now become the first and only member of President Mellark’s cabinet to be of an opposition party. Dalton takes over the department from Secretary James Peliot, who insisted on only serving a single term at the Department. Dalton has a long political history, starting from his first time as representative from District 5, his failed vice presidential run against Plutarch Heavensbee, his second vice presidential run with Elizabeth Steinbeck, his second tenure as a representative, and finally leading up to becoming the first Centre statewide officeholder in the nation of Panem as the lieutenant governor of District 5. Following his defeat for reelection in that role Dalton returned to the private sector until his selection to serve as Secretary.

Following these confirmations, only two nominees remained unconfirmed by the Senate (Jonathan Madison for Secretary of State, and Valère Descoteaux for Secretary of Defense). Both are awaiting confirmation hearings by the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and by the Senate Committee on Armed Services, respectively.

Cortez confirmed as Energy Sec., Hawthorne confirmed as Intelligence Sec.

The Senate moved quickly on the first day of President Mellark’s second term to confirm his nominees for the Energy Department and Intelligence Department.

Lynnette Cortez, the governor of District 12, was confirmed as Secretary of Energy in a voice vote. Cortez resigned her position as governor in a letter that took effect upon her confirmation, ensuring that there would be no issue. Harriet Myers, the lieutenant governor of District 12, will now become the fifth governor of District 12. Myers has the ability as the new governor to name her successor as lieutenant governor, to which she has named district senator Vance Jefferson.

Gale Hawthorne, the governor of District 15, was confirmed as Secretary of Intelligence by a vote of 25 to 7. All seven senators of the Red-Green Coalition voted against Hawthorne’s nomination, stating that he was far too radical for the position and claimed concerns over his opinion on torture. Hawthorne has previously mentioned that psychological torture can be used in certain circumstances to retrieve information, but also stated that terrorists are the only individuals who should experience such torture. Hawthorne’s resignation letter as governor went into effect upon his confirmation, with lieutenant governor Marshall Risinger becoming governor. The secretary of state of District 15 automatically becomes lieutenant governor in the absence of an officeholder. As such, Risinger will be succeeded by Brody Elliott.

INAUGURATION DAY: President Mellark, Vice President Tarson sworn in for second term

Today marked the second inauguration of Panem’s fifth president, Peeta Mellark (Liberty Party-District 12), and Panem’s sixth vice president, Rebecca Tarson (Liberty Party-District 12). The pair were reelected in the closest federal elections in Panem history. Below are some notable results from this past election:


  • President: Peeta Mellark. Mellark was reelected as president in a tight election that required the nation’s first federal runoff election for the presidency. Mellark received 51 electoral votes in the first round, which was 18 short of the 69 needed to achieve an outright win, and 34.23 percent of the popular vote. In the second round, Mellark narrowly achieved an outright win over former Gov. Kaitlyn Jones, the Conservative nominee, with exactly 69 electoral votes to Jones’ 67. The popular vote percentage for the final round was 52.02 percent Mellark to 47.98 percent Jones.
  • Vice President: Rebecca Tarson. Tarson was reelected as vice president in an even tighter election than the President’s, requiring a federal runoff election that resulted in an electoral vote tie that had to be broken by determination of the popular vote winner. Tarson received 61 electoral votes in the first round, which was 8 short of the 69 needed to achieve an outright majority in the first round, and 36 percent of the popular vote. In the second round, Tarson tied the electoral college with Centre nominee Rep. Matthias Christian, which required a determination of the winner by popular vote. As the final results reflected a lead for Tarson of 51.58 percent to Christian’s 48.42 percent, Tarson was reelected vice president.
  • In the districtwide elections, four governorships, three lieutenant governorships, and two district legislatures flipped parties, with the following elected this election:
    • Governors: Cooper McPharlin (Conservative-D1), Donald Beck (Centre-D6), Glenn Beckham (Conservative-D7), Dillan Christian (Centre-D10)
    • Lt. Governors: Haywood Jackson (Conservative-D1), Lydia Rome (Conservative-D7), Cyrus Westley (Centre-D10)
    • District Legislatures: District 1 Legislature (Liberty –> Conservative), District 10 Legislature (Liberty –> Centre)
  • In the race for control of the House, the composition of the Panem House of Representatives now is 96 Liberty members, 54 Centre members, 25 Conservative members, 18 Labor members, 6 Civic members, and 1 independent member who will caucus with Liberty. Liberty has lost the majority in the House, but has formed a leadership coalition with the Conservative Party in order to maintain control of the chamber. The leaders of each party in the House are;
    • Presumptive Speaker of the House of Representatives: Constantin Richelieu (Liberty-D14)
    • House Majority Leader (thus, Liberty Party leader): Miranda O’Neal (Liberty-D13)
    • House Majority Whip (thus, Conservative Party leader): Kari Lyles (Conservative-D10)
    • Leader of the Opposition (thus, Centre Party leader): Daniel Hutton (Centre-D15)
    • Labor leader: Teraton Wendle (D2)
    • Civic leader: Georgia Landon (D13)
  • Following the resignation of D7 Governor Mason Wallace, Patty Newsom became governor of District 7 until the inauguration of Glenn Beckham.
  • If the nominations of President-elect Mellark are confirmed, the following will become governor:
    • Harriet Myers, District 12
    • Marshall Risinger, District 15

Vice President-elect Rebecca Tarson (Liberty-D12) arrived first, as tradition holds, coming in her motorcade from 1 Corsican Circle, the official residence of the Vice President. Also in the motorcade was Second Gentleman Nathaniel Tarson. Vice President-elect Tarson ascended the steps of the Capitol towards the center dais, where she would be inaugurated. For the first time in Panem’s history, the oath of office was delivered to a federal official by a female justice. Chief Justice Francine Ashland Brewster administered the oath of office to the Vice President-elect, making her formally Vice President once again.

Due to a technicality in the Panem Constitution, the Vice President-elect always is sworn in prior to the presidential inauguration. This is due to the possible circumstance of the president’s death prior to the vice presidential inauguration, which would hence cause a constitutional crisis. Therefore, upon inauguration, the Vice President becomes Acting President for at least two hours until the presidential inauguration.

And thus, Vice President-elect Tarson became Vice President and acting President Tarson.

The president-elect’s motorcade left Stonehaven (also known as the White House or the Presidential Mansion) for the inauguration. In the motorcade were President-elect Peeta Mellark, former President and First Lady Katniss Everdeen, and their child, Delia Mellark. The three exited the motorcade and moved into the Capitol, where they began the traditional walk through the Capitol to the outer steps for the inauguration.

President-elect Mellark and First Lady Everdeen once again reprised their positions in one of the most famous images in political history; two presidents, walking together to the inauguration of one. This time, however, Delia Mellark was present. At the top of the steps waiting was Chief Justice Francine Ashland Brewster. She represented the starkest difference in the presidential backdrop of the inauguration, but also represented one of Mellark’s key accomplishments. Once Ashland Brewster administered the oath, the crowd ruptured with applause.

Following his oath, President Peeta Mellark came to the podium to deliver his inaugural address:

“Four years ago, we embarked on a journey that was destined to be long and treacherous. We faced a devastating economy, a dangerous world, and a crumbling country. I promised to you four years ago on these very steps that we would return to being a guiding light for the world to follow, that we would end the discord in our country and bring about harmony, faith, and hope. I pray that these goals have been at least partially accomplished during my first term. Together, we accomplished more than we ever thought possible, and now it is time to move towards a grander and greater second term. As we have restored the light to our nation, we now must lead the world. We cannot sit by idly and allow for global disruption. We must act for freedom, for our shared ideals. We must decisively act to ensure the fundamental justice we know here in Panem is shown to all of mankind. We have a duty to the rest of the world to prove that Panem is willing to step up to the job and lead this wonderful world.” — President Peeta Mellark (Liberty Party-District 12)

President Mellark nominates Sen. Valère Descoteaux as Sec. of Defense

President Mellark made his final remaining nomination for his Cabinet today, nominating Senator Valère Descoteaux (Liberty-D14) as his pick to head the nation’s Department of Defense.

Valère Descoteaux currently serves as the junior senator from District 14, Panem’s only overseas district. Descoteaux is the brother of current Secretary of the Treasury Rosalie Descoteaux, and if confirmed, this would be the first time that siblings have served in the Cabinet together. District 14 is home to multiple military bases of strategic importance to the nation of Panem, providing defense against antagonistic nations in Europe, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia. Descoteaux also currently serves as the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, from which he must either resign or recuse himself from in order for a confirmation hearing to be held. Under Panem law and Senate rules and procedures, senators that are nominated for any position that must be considered by the Senate must recuse themselves from any voting that occurs on their nomination as it would constitute a conflict of interest.

The pick of Descoteaux is considered to be a surprise by many observers, including some in the government. Many believed that the President was leaning toward nominating D2 Governor Felix Warren, with General Landon Mills as the second option. This pick is likely to elevate the stature of Mr. Descoteaux in Panem politics by putting him in a much more public role as Secretary, which has been a common stepping-stone for a future federal run for public office.