The Commonwealth Comment

Friday, January 19, 2007

Congress Looks to Shake Their "Do Nothing" Title

Americans have long been angry with the U.S. Congress. They have been labeled as the "Do Nothing" Congress in the past few years. However, in November the American people had had enough of their lack luster legislators. They elected a new Democratic majority to the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Democrats in the House implemented their "First 100 Hours", which finished up today. In which they were going to pass several measures. After 12 years of Republican rule, the Dems completed their "100 Hours" of legislative power with great success.
Here's a recap of what was passed:
In the world of spending the House passed a measure that would restrict any spending that would add to the nation's growing deficit. One such restriction would be tax breaks. This measure states that tax breaks cannot occur unless there are corresponding cuts in government spending to make up the difference, or increased taxes in other areas to make up the difference.
Democrats have long been referred to as the party that would let the terrorists win. They went on to show that that wasn't the case by passing a measure that would implement the 9/11 Commissions' recommendations. This passed by a vote of 299-128. It will require full inspections of cargo entering the United States and will give more funding to cities considered "high-risk" targets of terrorism.
The Dems also seem to like the idea of cleaning up the political scene. With several members of congress arrested in the past year or so, it has become apparent that lobbying restrictions had to be put into place. By a vote of 430-1 the House passed a measure that bans any lawmaker from accepting gifts from lobbyists.
The House finally passed measure to raise in the federal minimum wage. The current minimum wage sits at $5.15 an hour. If passed by the Senate and signed by President Bush, the new wage would be $7.25.

The House passed a measure approving more federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. A measure that would require the government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices passed the following day by a vote of 255-170. President Bush opposes this legislation, and has said he will veto it if it passes through the Senate.

Students across the nations will rejoice to the news of less debt after college. On January 17, the House passed a measure by a vote of 356-71 to reduce student loan interest rates from 6.8% to 3.4% over the next 5 years.

The final piece of the "100 Hour" agenda was a environmentally friendly move. The measure, which was passed by a margin of 264-163, would drastically reduce the tax subsidies given to major oil companies. With this legislation the companies would be required to pay more taxes and fees to the government. The money generated from this will go towards the advancement of renewable fuel sources.

The Democrats finished their legislative blitz in 87 hours.

My opinion: Its about time! 12 years is way too long for a Republican majority, and the past 6 years have been even worse with Dubbya in office. The measure passed by the House, if signed into law will go a long way in making sure that the important issues facing the United States. No flag burning bans, or gay marriage bans. Those aren't pressing issues that will have an impact on every American. Healthcare, education, alternative energy, security, minimum wage; these things should hold value to every person living in the United States of America, because they will be affected by each of those things at one time or another during their lives. I'm glad to see that the voters finally woke up and realized that something had to be done, and a Democratic majority and a balance of power between the legislative and executive branches was crucial.


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