Joe's weekly update: Issue 537
Democrat Leaders in House meltdown
As the calendar year comes to a close, Democrats in Congress are trying desperately to achieve some legislative accomplishments. Two months into the new fiscal year, eleven of the twelve bills that fund the federal government have yet to be passed. Democrat leaders in Congress have been battling with the President to reach a deal on an acceptable spending level. That deal collapsed this week and Congress left for the weekend without completing a budget again. Newspaper headlines this week included "Democrats Bow to Bush's Demands in House Spending Bill"; "Intraparty Feuds Dog Democrats, Stall Congress"; "Democrats Blaming Each Other For Failures"; and "Dems Cave on Spending." The House was supposed to adjourn on October 26. Instead, Congress will still be in session next week, in an effort to make up for a year's worth of failed legislative measures.
Do-Not-Call registry made permanent
The Do-Not-Call phone registry program first became law in 2003. The program allows individuals to add their home phone numbers to a registry. Telemarketers are then obligated to refrain from calling any number on the list. The program was first authorized by Congress for five years. Because the program has been so popular, the House this week passed a bill that would do just that. Similar legislation is pending in the Senate. About 146 million phone numbers have been registered since the beginning of the program, making this one of the most popular government programs. If you would like to register your phone number with the program, go to www.donotcall.gov.
Interrogation methods were known
Much has been made of the interrogation methods being used by our armed forces and intelligence agencies in the war on terror. While a debate about the way in which we conduct ourselves in war is justified, some politicians have used the issue in order to score political points. A news report by the Washington Post this week indicates that Congressional leaders from both parties, including the current Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, were aware of the interrogation methods being used by our intelligence services as early as September 2002. At that time, four members of Congress met in secret for a briefing regarding a CIA program designed to obtain vital information from high value terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. The meeting lasted over an hour, during which the bipartisan group, was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the interrogation techniques to be used to try to make the prisoners talk. One of those techniques was waterboarding. On that day, no one in the room had any objections to the presentation.
Terrorism hits U.S. ally Algeria
Algeria was rocked by twin car bomb attacks on the capital city of Algiers this week. At least 30 people died in the blasts, and more are still missing. More than 170 were injured. The bombings targeted the buildings housing offices of the United Nations, as well as the Algerian Supreme Court. The group claiming responsibility for the attack is al-Qaeda in Islamic North Africa, an Algerian terrorist group that recently took on the al-Qaeda affiliation. Algeria has been a great ally of the United States, especially in the war on terror. Our two nations have been increasing economic ties as well. In fact, I just hosted the Algerian Ambassador to the United States, Amine Kherbi, on Monday for a tour of Lancaster. My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Algeria. They should know the United States will stand firm as their ally, as they have done for us.
Quote of the Week
"What's going on now is something I've never seen in the 17 years that I've been here in terms of how you finish at the end. I've seen things jammed up. I've seen us here late. But at least someone had a plan. There appears to be no plan."
-- Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), on the meltdown in Congress.