Monitoring the first 100 hours of the 2007 Democrat-controlled Congress
by phil on Thursday Dec 14, 2006 9:54 AM
Nancy Pelosi promised that the Democrats would drain the GOP 'Swamp' in January of 2007.
Before the elections, she laid out a hypothetical "first 100 hours" plan of what they would do once in office (Source: Washington Post). Now that Democrats control Congress, let's follow up on those promises.
The 110th Congress has convened already (starting noon January 4th, 2007.) Stay tuned as I'll return and score how well they do. These are the promises:
Last Updated: 1/21/2006
Weaken LobbyistsPromise: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."
Proposed Fix: The House passed serious ethics rules that set new standards for conduct by the honorables and their staff members. The new rules, accepted on a 430-1 vote, prohibit members from accepting free or discounted rides on corporate jets, taking gifts of more than $50 from lobbyists or seeking to influence staffing decisions of lobbying organizations.
Transparency also is getting serious attention from the new Congress. The House approved a pay-as-you-go system that requires tax cuts or increased spending on mandatory programs be offset with other cuts or tax increases. Such rules existed in some form since 1990, but were allowed to expire by a Republican-controlled Congress in 2002. The House also is requiring the sponsors of pork projects (gently called "earmarks") to be identified. (Birmingham News)
Result: The Senate passed the bill in a 96-2 vote (Miami Herald). Bush unlikely to veto.
Sept. 11 CommissionPromise: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
There are about 41 recommendations in the 9/11 Commission report, which includes tasks such as confronting our relationship with Saudi Arabia, and building schools in the Muslim world. Supposedly, about half have already been recommended by the Republican Congress (Reuters)
Proposed Fix: The Sept. 11 Commission Bill with the following:
- A Select Intelligence Oversight Panel
- Better communications equipment for emergency workers
- More money for high-risk areas
- Strengthen the sharing of U.S. intelligence information with local authorities
- Inspecting all cargo carried on passenger aircraft
- scanning of all containers bound for the U.S.
The Select Intelligence Oversight Pane is a meta-committee that takes 3 members from the Intelligence committee and 6 from the Appropriations. As it stands right now, spy agencies bypass the Intelligence Committee and go straight to the Appropriations. So this 'hybrid' committee will aim to unify the committees. This satisfies the following recommendations.
36. Congressional oversight for intelligence -- and counterterrorism -- is now dysfunctional. Congress should address this problem. We have considered various alternatives: A joint committee on the old model of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy is one. A single committee in each house of Congress, combining authorizing and appropriating authorities, is another.
37. Congress should create a single, principal point of oversight and review for homeland security. Congressional leaders are best able to judge what committee should have jurisdiction over this department and its duties. But we believe that Congress does have the obligation to choose one in the House and one in the Senate, and that this committee should be a permanent standing committee with a nonpartisan staff.
Evaluation of others coming soon.
Likely Result: Bush won't veto this bill.
Minimum WagePromise: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step
Proposed Fix: H.R. 2, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007: Boost the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour over two years. Was passed 315 to 116 in the House.
Likely Result: The Senate will add a tax credit for businesses, and Bush won't veto.
Student LoansPromise: Cut the interest rate on student loans in half.
The College Student Relief Act of 2007 aims to gradually cut the interest rates of subsidized federal student college loans from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent over a five-year period.
The House Democrats’ plan doesn’t cover all student loans—only federally subsidized Stafford loans targeting some middle-income families—and it will take five years to phase in. And though education advocates praise the effort as a nice start, they say it won’t do much to boost college access at a time of soaring tuition increases. (The Depula)
Drug PricesPromise: Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.
The House passes a bill that would require the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate with drug makers for lower prices for Medicare patients. The vote was 255-170 in favor of the bill, including some two dozen Republicans. Those supporting the measure ignored a veto threat from President Bush.
Stem Cell ResearchPromise: Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds
The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly today to expand the number of human embryonic stem cell (ES) lines available to federally funded researchers. The bill, designated H.R. 3 and considered a top priority in the new Democrat-controlled Congress, passed 253 to 174.Bush has vetoed and the House wasn't able to override it.