10 December 2006

About Last Night

On Saturday evening the 109th Congress met for the final time. They passed a tax and trade bill, took steps to normalize relations with VietNam by establishing a trade relationship, opened eight million more acres in the Gulf of Mexico to drilling, passed a measure to share civilian nuclear technology with India, passed a bill to overhaul the Post Office, delayed their automatic pay raise until February when the stopgap spending bill expires (they failed to pass 9 of 11 routine spending bills before the October 1 deadline), and killed a proposal to pay a total of about $10 million in severance to hundreds of senior committee and leadership aides who will lose their jobs when the changeover shrinks the Republican payroll. Critics said the severance was too generous.

The fight for the tax and trade package was contested by Republican budget hawks because its price tag will exceed budget control measures, but those objections were overridden by the Senate. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg (R-NH) was especially displeased by that, fuming "You know, it's sort of that old Pogo line, 'We've met the enemy, and he is us'."

Most of the fiscal problems were left for next year when the Democrats take control. Wisconsin Democrat David Obey was particularly annoyed by this, calling the 109th "the most useless Congress in modern times."

I have to agree with him.

In complete but unofficial returns, Louisiana Democrat William Jefferson has been re-elected to Congress. He received 57 percent of the vote over state Rep. Karen Carter in a runoff despite an ongoing federal bribery investigation.

Jefferson, who has been accused of taking bribes from a company seeking lucrative contracts in the Nigerian telecommunications market, was forced into the runoff against Carter when he failed to win 50 percent of the vote in the primary. He has not been charged with any crime and denies any wrongdoing.

"I guess the people are happy with the status-quo," says Carter.

People have the government they deserve, says I.

And finally, the Space Shuttle Discovery finally lifted from it's launch pad last night for the first time since 2002. Discovery will be in space for 12 days on a mission supporting the International Space Station.

The crew of Discovery will deliver a large truss section of the space station and conduct several space walks to install it. They will also assist the ISS crew with a rewiring job that will convert the station's power source from battery to the solar arrays.

Discovery is set to return to Kennedy Space Center on December 21st.
NASA photograph


Lord Nazh said...

While I can't say much good about the 109th congress, not passing the spending bills killed billions of earmarks. Unlike spending (which can be 'stopgapped' until next congress, earmarks are void if the bill isn't passed by the end of congress).

This lame congress saved the taxpayers billions of dollars, that at least is a good thing and closer to fiscal responsibility than they ever got (or the next congress will ever get).

Larry said...

That's true, but the bigger issue IMO is the fact that they didn't get done one of the things that they are specifically tasked with. Of course there is that old saw about the government that governs best by governing least.
Thanks for dropping by!