Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Congress's Agenda for 80-Day Sprint Water, Welfare Reform, Adoption Tax Credits Are among Bills Pending in 'Historic' 104th

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Congress's Agenda for 80-Day Sprint Water, Welfare Reform, Adoption Tax Credits Are among Bills Pending in 'Historic' 104th

Article excerpt

When the 104th Congress convened last January, it was the greatest political show on earth. The hottest ticket in town. Fantasy Island for press secretaries. But today, as the 104th limps toward the August recess, it seems more like a fifth-grade musical: Nobody's watching who doesn't have to.

True, the Republican-led Congress gave us sweeping reforms of agriculture and telecommunications policy and a line-item veto. There's even a chance that popular immigration, health-insurance, and minimum-wage bills could see presidential ink.

But GOP leaders have abandoned larger goals like tax cuts, Medicare reforms, and a balanced budget, and Democrats have succeeded in making gridlock the mot du jour.

Looking ahead to Congress's October finale, analysts draw three conclusions. First, the show's largely over. Second, the total amount of legislation enacted will be small. And third, despite the first two points, the 104th might still be historic.

"By traditional standards, this was not a good Congress," says Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution. "But it could prove to be a moment when we started to retrench, to devolve power to the states, to demonstrate concern about the size of the budget, and think about what programs can and should be eliminated."

The lasting legacy of the 104th, he says, "depends in part on what the next Congress does."

In weeks to come, GOP leaders will focus on a small group of showcase bills. Some are election-year stunts calculated to attract presidential vetoes if they pass. Others will be serious attempts to bring something home to voters.

Although campaign finance reform effectively died in the Senate this month, the House will consider a bill this week that would limit PAC contributions and require candidates to raise at least half of their campaign funds from individuals living in their districts.

GOP leaders have also decided to decouple plans to rewrite federal welfare and Medicaid programs, a move that makes welfare reform more likely.

A bill to tighten federal standards on the cleanliness of drinking water has a fighting chance, and both parties are working to solve a dispute over tax-free medical savings accounts. This squabble has hijacked a bipartisan health-insurance bill that would protect workers when they lose or change jobs. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.