Politics of 2002
year plagued by war, recession, bioterror attacks and political
bickering ended with a considerable amount of unfinished business
in the nations capitol by design. Memories of bipartisan
pledges faded as Congress abandoned unity and cooperation with not
even a wink and a nod. With eyes refocused on Novembers midterm
elections, which hold the leadership fate in both houses of Congress,
Senate leadership concluded the first legislative session of the
107th Congress by blocking or simply denying votes on
key pieces of legislation as well as vital judicial and executive
election-year history repeats itself as reliably as usual, this
year will result in an even less productive legislative session.
The now slim Democrat Senate majority and House minority appear
poised to continue obstructing the Presidents agenda at the
including a comprehensive national energy plan were successfully
blocked by Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) through a series of
procedural motions and stall tactics. The energy initiative now
needs a supermajority of 60 votes even to be considered, instead
of the simple majority, which it currently has, to pass. Like the
energy bill, trade promotion authority, formerly known as "fast-track,"
passed in the House and has majority support in the Senate. It,
too, has been denied an up-or-down vote.
economic stimulus package that would increase consumer spending
power and provide incentives to reduce job cuts was also killed
in the final days of the 2001 session. Daschle and House Minority
Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO) feel it more advantageous to spin
class-warfare rhetoric behind alternative legislation that increases
entitlement spending and offers virtually no new tax cuts. Why not?
After all, its the economy, stupid.
and executive branch confirmations by the Senate in 2001 moved at
a snails pace, with liberal-labeled "controversial"
nominees being refused a committee hearing or, if they got a hearing,
a vote on the Senate floor.
Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is working at only 50 percent of
its capacity, yet the Presidents seven nominees to that court
have yet to receive a hearing in the Judiciary Committee. Two of
them have been waiting since May.
Presidents nominee to the top legal post at the Department
of Labor, Eugene Scalia, is also being denied a vote on the Senate
floor, despite impeccable credentials, a favorable hearing and majority
support. Thats payback, many believe, for Supreme Court Justice
Antonin Scalias decision in Bush v. Gore. Eugene Scalias
predicament is a perfect example of the partisan tactics employed
by Senate Democrats to block confirmations, not of "controversial,"
but consequential nominees. As with other issues in Daschles
Senate, Scalias confirmation will need a supermajority to
get a vote, unless the President decides to clear leather with a
Propped up by the The New York Times and The Washington
Post, which have set new records for number of editorials, "reformers"
will continue the quest for House passage of the McCain-Feingold
campaign finance bill as unconstitutional as it is cynical.
As the elections draw near, partisan swords will again be wielded
to acquire the remaining few signatures needed on the House discharge
petition to force a vote. Look for missing political fingers of
those who resist.
Congress returns on January 23, the political posturing is likely
to require more microphones than the networks have. Key initiatives
that could bolster our nations security and economy will become
even more difficult to get past the partisan demagoguery. One issue
has escaped the Congressional pay raise already snuck through
in a fleeting pre-recess reversion to bipartisanship.
do you spell obstruction? We, along with a majority of the American
people, have had to learn a new way: D-A-S-C-H-L-E.
January 4, 2002]