Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Democrats displeased with new majority

It seems that House Democrats are joining with millions of Americans everywhere in refusing to rejoice over their new found status as a Congressional Majority.

During last night's State of the Union Address, President Bush congratulated Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats, stating "some in this chamber are new to the House and the Senate -- and I congratulate the Democrat majority."

While much applause ensued, not all were happy. Chamber cameras panned to a group of House Democrats, including Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel and Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter, who refused to applaud the Democrats' success. They merely stared at the floor.

We have two theories on this. 1.) They, too, recognize that a Democratic majority is nothing to cheer about. 2.) They were afraid that President Bush would shout "made you look" if they acknowledged his presence.

We may never know.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bringing the mountain to Mohammed.

Pity the life of a Washington, DC, lobbyist. When a new piece of legislation is proposed, they need to analyze it to determine how it affects their industry. They sit for long hours through committee mark-ups, having to watch each change in the bill as it wades through the process.

Then the House Rules Committee gets a last shot, often meeting late into the evening, for final tweaking before a vote on the House floor.

And the lobbyist needs to be there for all of it.

Sound like hard work? It is. But the new Democrat majority is now taking all the guesswork out of the legislative process.

How’s that, you ask? Well, by having the lobbyists do the actual legislative work.

That’s right. Thanks to Speaker Pelosi and a host of Committee chairmen (and women), lobbyists can now write their own bills. No waiting for a high-priced fundraiser at some fancy DC restaurant to have your voice heard. You can do it right in the halls of Congress.

That’s Daimler-Chrysler over at the Energy and Commerce Committee working on “toughening” CAFE standards. Telecomm reform? Not to worry. Verizon is on the job.

Just to make sure House Democrats don’t get any ideas about interfering with Microsoft’s monopoly, they’ve put their lobbyist right at the top of Democratic leadership.

But what about those tax breaks for oil companies? Never fear. Chairperson Louise Slaughter tapped a top dog for the American Petroleum Institute as Chief of Staff for Rules. As Slaughter told her local paper: "We have the ability to change any bill."

That’s good news for big oil.

But don’t take our word for it. As the LA Times reported, Big Oil dodged a bullet when the Democrats gave a nod and a wink to “rolling back” the industry’s federal subsidies. Thanks, Louise.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The 100 hour agenda: How did they do it?

House Democrats recently completed their much ballyhooed “100 Hour Agenda.”

In less time than it took Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pick out a set of South Seas and Tahitian pearls, the new majority rammed through a series of six bills that will have a tougher time getting through the Senate.

So how’d they do it - other than by bypassing the committee process and regular order of the House?

The first 100 hours officially began at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 9, finishing a little after 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 18. For those without a calculator, that’s 222 hours.

But Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s “official” clock pegged their time at 42.5 hours.

We guess that the Democrats first order of business was suspending the laws of space and time.