Issue 473, September 8, 2006
House leaders plan action on earmark reform
The House and Senate have now been at an impasse over a lobbying reform measure for several months. With action stalled on the bill, House leaders have vowed to take action on the earmark reform portion of the bill by holding a vote to change House rules concerning the earmarking process. This week, Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said that unless an agreement on the larger lobbying reform bill could be reached soon, the House could act on a rules change as early as next week. The change would add transparency to the federal spending process by requiring the sponsors of narrowly-aimed spending items, known as earmarks, to be publicly listed.
Congress to make push on terrorist tribunal bill
In a speech Wednesday, President Bush addressed the government's handling of terrorists captured in the global war on terror. During the speech, Bush called on Congress to take immediate action on legislation authorizing the use of military tribunals for captured terrorists. Leaders in both the House and Senate have expressed a willingness to work on such legislation, but there remain some differences between Bush's proposed legislation and that being drafted by key Members of Congress. With only a handful of legislative days left on the calendar, it is unclear whether an agreement can be worked out, but I'm hopeful that it can. The terrorists that killed 3,000 innocent Americans on 9/11 deserve justice, and Congress should authorize a way of delivering it that is both fair and firm.
Iraqi leaders assume command of armed forces
Another major step in Iraq's transition to independence was taken this week, as Iraqi officials officially took over command of Iraq's armed forces from the U.S.-led coalition. A ceremony was held in Baghdad to mark the milestone. Assuming the role of commander in chief, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took control of the air force, navy and one army division. Additional army divisions are expected to be handed over to Iraqi officials in the coming months. A Coalition spokesman called the transfer a "huge, significant event," in the progress toward a free and independent Iraq. I congratulate the Iraqi government on this important step and look forward to continued progress on their road to freedom.
Bush fills Cabinet vacancy
On Tuesday, President Bush nominated Mary E. Peters to be the new Transportation Secretary. If confirmed by the Senate, Peters would replace outgoing Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. Peters served as the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration from 2001 to 2005 and as the Director of the Arizona Department of Transportation before that. If confirmed, Peters will be responsible for maintaining our nation's transportation infrastructure. She would be the first woman to hold the post since Elizabeth Dole served on President Reagan's Cabinet. During the ceremony announcing her nomination, President Bush said, "As a member of my Cabinet, Mary will work closely with state and local leaders to ensure that America has a state of the art transportation system that meets the needs of our growing economy."
Quote of the Week
"It's important for Americans and others across the world to understand the kind of people held at Guantanamo Those held at Guantanamo include suspected bomb makers, terrorist trainers, recruiters and facilitators, and potential suicide bombers. They are in our custody so they cannot murder our people."
- President George W. Bush, during a speech this week on the global war on terror