January 17, 2007
Last Week in Congress
By James Wilson
Two days in, and then a day off. Yes, the House took Monday off so that some members could attend the BCS National Championship game in Arizona. We don’t mind a do-nothing Congress and believe this was a worthy excuse for a day off. Unfortunately, days off don’t count in Speaker Pelosi’s 100 Hour Legislative Orgy, which got off to a quick start on Tuesday and continued through the week. Four of the promised bills were passed, one each day from Tuesday through Friday. Here they are: H.R.1, Implementing the 9/11Commission Recommendations Act - unknown # of pages At date of this post, the Government Printing Office’s .pdf display is unavailable, so I do not know the number of pages. It must be a couple of hundred - I counted 107 sect ions in the bill. Much of it looks like more of the same - more government control or “oversight” of our transportation systems. It is obvious that the 9/11 Commission and Congress don’t realize that private businesses, working with their insurance companies, are better-equipped to provide for their own security. Title VII does provide for a politically independent “Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board,” which is somewhat encouraging. But Title XII is an egregious call for further meddling in foreign affairs - which is one of the causes of terrorism to begin with. Most members of Congress probably did not know what they voted for - applauding the general ideas but ignorant of the specifics. There was too much in the bill worthy of due consideration and debate - this bill by itself was worth 100 hours of Congress’s time. But in Congress, political stunts are more important than policy. H.R. 1 is further evidence of why we need the Read the Bills Act. H.R.2, the Fair Minimum Wage - 4 pages We are campaigning against this raise in the minimum wage, and hope it can be defeated in the Senate. I will not elaborate in this space; you can go here for our reasons, and then here to tell the Senate to oppose this bill. H.R. 3, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act - 4 pages This bill is a political ploy to force a second Presidential veto of a popular measure. While stem cell research funding is popular, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Even one who has no problem with the bio-medical ethics involved should be concerned about further federal expansion into science. Private firms and labs are already doing extensive research in this area; those who believe this research is important should contribute their own money, not take it from taxpayers. H.R. 4 Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act - 6 pages Far better would be to repeal the Medicare Drug Benefit entirely, and reform the health care and drug industries so that it operates on the laws of supply and demand - which benefits the consumer. Nevertheless, if this saves money we can hardly oppose it. The Senate, fortunately, was far less “productive.” It spent the week debating S.1, the important Congressional transparency bill with a provision that attacks the First Amendment Rights of grassroots organizations. We are fighting that provision, sec. 220, here. We will also note that the House introduced 153 and the Senate introduced 88 new bills. Instead of constantly coming up with new bills, why don’t they read the ones already on the table? 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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