April 18, 2007
Congress, April 10-15
By James Wilson
The House of Representatives was in the second week of a two-week break last week. The Senate, unfortunately, resumed work after just one week off. Four bills the Senate passed were to name federal buildings. Such bills are typically one page each in their final draft. The others bills the Senate passed were: H.R. 137 - Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act - 4 pages The House passed this two weeks before. I'm sure many people don't like cockfights, but why do we need to make federal laws about it? S. 5 - Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act - 7 pages This apparently broadens the conditions for which stem cell research receives federal support. S. 30 - Hope offered through Principled and Ethical Stem Cell Research Act or "Hope Act" - 7 pages This promotes research on the stem cells of "naturually dead" embryoes. Frankly, I'm having a hard time telling these bills apart. Much of the language is very similar. But the Senate, as usual, overlooked two fundamental points. First, the Constitution gives Congress defined, enumerated powers; funding scientific research isn't one of them. Second, the government doesn't have any mechanism to rationally choose which scientific projects are important enough to fund and which are not; only a free market can do that. S. 1104 - To increase the number of Iraqi and Afghani translators and interpreters who may be admitted to the United States as special immigrants - 6 pages Regardless of how one feels about immigration or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, this still sounds like a wise temporary measure. The Senate passed "only" 8 bills that spanned just 28 pages. I fear, however, that this only means they will rush through more voluminous bills in future weeks. We must keep up the pressure on Congress to pass the Read the Bills Act. publishes this feature on weeks when Congress is in session. To see how your represenatives voted on particular bills, or to read the bills themselves, go here for the House and here for the Senate. You may also keep abreast of day-to-day activities in Congress by going to the Congressional Record Main Page and click for recent issues of the Daily Digest.
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