The Friday Faxline (Issue 491, January 19, 2007)
100 Hours Agenda' ends without allowing a single GOP amendment
House Democrats completed work this week on the six bills that made up their "100 Hours Agenda." Unfortunately, their success in completing the agenda on time came at the expense of a fair and open process. Despite Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) repeated campaign pledges of fairness and inclusion, not a single Republican amendment was allowed to be offered on the bills comprising the 100 Hours Agenda. By contrast, when Republicans gained power in 1995, they allowed 154 Democrat amendments to the bills included in their Contract with America. Forty-eight of those amendments were adopted by the House. As the 110th Congress moves forward, I'm hopeful it will do so on a more bipartisan basis than it did during the first 100 hours.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial receives major donations
On Monday, America celebrated the life and accomplishments of civil rights champion Martin Luther King Jr. King's life-long fight for justice and equality in America continues to positively impact the way we live today. It's a legacy that has earned King the distinction of being the only civilian to have a memorial built in his honor on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. On Monday, three companies - CIGNA, Shell Oil, and Verizon - announced donations of $1 million each for the ongoing effort to build the memorial. With these donations, the memorial's planners say they've received $76 million of their $100 million fundraising goal.
Rep. Johnson introduces bill to prevent funding cut for deployed troops
On Wednesday, Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX), a decorated war hero who spent nearly seven years as a POW during the Vietnam War, introduced legislation that would prevent Congress from cutting off funding for U.S. troops serving in harm's way. Specifically, the bill says "Congress will not cut off or restrict funding for units and members of the armed forces that the commander in chief has deployed in harm's way in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom." In the coming weeks, Congress is sure to take up the debate over our involvement in Iraq and the broader war on terror. While I welcome such a debate, we must ensure that the troops we have already sent into combat have our complete support here at home - especially in Congress. This bill would ensure that, and I commend my friend Sam Johnson for introducing it.
Senate reaches agreement on ethics bill
Last week, the Senate's lobbying and ethics reform bill stalled over a Republican amendment to add more transparency to the earmarking process in spending bills. That issue was resolved to the satisfaction of both the Republican Senator who offered the amendment and the Democratic Senate leadership. But this week the bill hit another snag when Democrats opposed an amendment offered by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) to include a constitutional line-item veto in the legislation. Like the effort to create transparency in the earmarking process, a line-item veto would add another layer of fiscal accountability to federal spending. Specifically, it would give the President the ability to veto specific, wasteful spending items without having to sink the entire spending bill in which they are contained. Ultimately, Sen. Gregg agreed to withdraw his amendment after Democratic leaders promised him the chance to offer on another bill set to be considered next week. A line item veto makes good fiscal sense and I hope Senators will vote to adopt when they're given the chance.
Quote of the Week
"The right time to start was about 10 years ago."
-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, speaking to the Senate Budget Committee on the urgency of reforming unsustainable entitlement programs.