Saturday, June 30, 2007

Washington This Week: A Few Gems Floated Up From The Cesspool

By Manifesto Joe

In a congressional week in which one issue loomed large, it may have been easy to forget that our Solons and Dracos voted on a lot of other stuff. Well, I'm not going to let you forget it. And, the news wasn't all bad -- just most of it.

Perhaps most disappointing was the House falling short, 209-217, on Rahm Emanuel's move to show VP Dick what's it's like to live without a budget, since he seems to consider himself a fourth branch of government. This was close, but several Democrats chickened out. I am sad to admit that one of them was Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, who voted nay. Edwards, of Waco, is a lawmaker who's often been narrowly re-elected in a strongly Republican district, so I suspect that influenced his thinking. But regardless, he earns one thumb up -- his anal cavity -- for this craven decision. (It's also sad to see House Resolution 333 so bogged down. I've read it. I didn't go to law school, but there are plenty of people who did who seem to think there are good grounds to impeach Cheney, right now.)

In another sad development, the Senate failed, 51-48, to reach the 60 votes necessary to advance HR 800, which would enable workers to vote for unionization by simply signing a card, with a union authorized as soon as a majority declares support. For nearly 30 years we've had a federal government that has been unwilling to enforce the right to unionize, which was supposed to have been guaranteed under the Wagner Act of 1935. This would clarify things quite a bit, and perhaps stop a lot of the unlawful reprisals that have gutted the union movement in America.

Under the category of "What were they thinking?", the House voted 309-115 to block federal spending in 2008 to reinstitute broadcasting's Fairness Doctrine. I think 20 years of Rush "I Now Run the Country" Limbaugh would have made this a no-brainer. But a lot of people turned yellow-belly on this one. And, Waco, Texas' own Chet Edwards earns yet another one thumb "up."

Now, to the good news, such as it is. Some votes seem to be going the right way on environmental issues.

On the Interior Department budget bill, HR 2643, the House rejected, 153-274, to refuse to strip the bill of nonbinding support for mandatory federal controls on greenhouse gas emissions. Not many, but some, Republicans evidently saw the light on climate change here.

Another rare gem: The House voted 252-178 for an amendment to HR 2643 to block the Bush plan to ease the existing rule that coal-fired power plants and other smokestack industries install the best available anti-pollution technology when they upgrade a facility. In Texas, this is especially important. We've got some of the worst air pollution of this kind in the country, and my asthmatic lungs thank every member who voted yes on this one. Even Chet Edwards.

The House also rejected, 196-233 (party lines come to mind), a move to end a 26-year moratorium on drilling for energy sources off areas of U.S. coasts. There are energy companies that would like to have platforms lined up like row houses all along the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere. Something tells me that wouldn't be a good idea, long term.

Anyway, there have been worse weeks on Capitol Hill, like, circa 2001-06. Sometimes one must settle for marginal improvements.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

1 comment:

Red Hog Diary said...

I don't know Joe, that was a pretty disappointing week. We are so desperate for campaign finance reform. I just don't see it happening without taking to the streets and nobody is that upset. Yet.