The Friday Faxline (Issue 490, January 12, 2007)
Bush awards posthumous Medal of Honor
On Thursday, President Bush presented the Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor that a President can bestow, to the family of Marine Corporal Jason Dunham. Dunham was killed in April, 2004 while serving in Iraq. He and his fellow Marines were about to search a car when an insurgent emerged from it and assaulted the soldiers. Dunham wrestled the man to the ground, but not before he was able to roll out an armed grenade. Reacting quickly, Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet and his own body, absorbing the brunt of the explosion and saving the lives of his fellow Marines. During the presentation ceremony in the East Room of the White House, President Bush said Dunham "showed the world what it means to be a Marine." Corporal Dunham is a true American hero, and we owe him and all his fellow soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice a huge debt of gratitude for their selfless service.
Democrat leaders at odds on earmark reforms
The new Democrat leadership in the House made it their first priority to pass new earmark-disclosure requirements for the 110th Congress. But their counterparts in the Senate complicated matters this week by opposing the transparency requirements backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The Senate ethics and earmark reform package contained far less stringent disclosure requirements for individual lawmakers' projects, known as earmarks, than the House-passed version. When Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) offered an amendment that would bring the Senate bill up to speed with the House version, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) moved to block it. The final version of the bill is yet to be agreed upon, but I'm hopeful the Democrat leaders in the House and Senate will produce something that provides real accountability. America's taxpayers deserve to know how their elected officials are spending tax dollars.
Questions arise over exemption in minimum wage bill
The House this week passed legislation raising the federal minimum wage to $7.25 per hour by 2009, as part of the Democrats "100 hours agenda." The bill applies nationwide, and even extends the minimum wage standard for the first time to the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory. So it strikes some as suspicious that American Samoa, another U.S. territory, was specifically exempted from the wage hike. Especially since the parent company of StarKist Tuna, an opponent of the minimum wage hike and major employer in American Samoa, is based in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Congressional district. Pelosi's office denies making any special deals in the legislation, but some have been asking questions. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), told the Washington Times, "There's something fishy going on here."
Pelosi snuffs out smoking in Speaker's lobby
Following a nationwide trend that is leaving smokers with fewer and fewer places to light up, newly elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) officially banned smoking in the Speaker's Lobby, located just off of the House floor. The Speaker cited health concerns and the recently enacted District of Columbia smoking ban as reasons for the move. As a non-smoker, this has little effect on me either way, but many on Capitol Hill were curious to get the reaction of some of Congress' more well-known tobacco users. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), known for his cigar smoking told Roll Call, "It's not a big deal. If it had come to a vote on it I would have voted against it." Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) another well-known smoker, reacted similarly, saying, "It's fine."
Quote of the Week
"If America ever wants to achieve true national security, we must wean ourselves off our dependence on foreign oil. It's that simple."
-Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) speaking this week on the importance of energy independence.