The first session of the 109th Congress has, finally, come to an end. And it's time once again for a report card to gauge the progress (or lack thereof) made in recent months by our elected representatives. Of course, by way of disclaimer, this report card (like the last one
) is completely selective, capricious and otherwise totally my own. Feel free to offer revisions, additions, etc. in the comments - all I ask if that you keep them clean.
First, the subjects:Budget
: (B). Some decent cost-saving measures, but more unfair cuts in programs that benefit millions of Americans (student loans, health care, heating assistance). This grade could have been much improved by getting rid of more fat in the form of pork-barrel projects.ANWR
: (A). When all was said and done, the refuge survived another day. Those who want to open ANWR will try again next year, so this fight's not over by any means ... but we won another round.Torture Ban
: (A). This was always a winning issue, and after the Administration's inevitable capitulation its passage was guaranteed.PATRIOT Act
: (B+). The five-week extension forced by Sensenbrenner provides a little bit of time for the Senate and House to continue their negotiations. I continue to support the Senate's shorter-term sunsetting provisions and added protections for civil liberties, so I hope the bipartisan group there keeps up the good work.Stem Cell Research Funding
: (Incomplete). This one's still on the agenda, folks. And the delaying tactics continue. Back in October, Senator Specter accepted a deal with Senate leadership to take up in January the House-passed bill to allow federal funding on stem cells taken from embryos which would be discarded anyway. Now that the Alito hearings are scheduled to occur during the month, though, stem cells seem likely to fall off the radar again.Tax Cuts
: (Incomplete). After the Senate Finance Committee balked, further tax cuts this year got shoved off the table. Unless any proposed cuts are to be offset by cuts in pork so they don't add to the deficit, I will continue to oppose them in most cases. Stay tuned for more on this in the coming months.
: (Incomplete). No idea where this one's going. Confirmation seems relatively likely, but the hearings are definitely going to matter much more this time than they did with Roberts.
Now the individual/group marks:Ted Stevens
: (F). Does not play well with others. After those ANWR shenanigans
, an F is being generous. And that was on top of his previous escapades this year (oil execs
, bridge to nowhere
(A-). Excellent work on the torture ban and other areas this year, including the Abramoff sleaze hearings.Feingold, Sununu, Craig, Hagel, Murkoswki, Durbin, Salazar
: (A). The bipartisan group responsible for pushing (hard) for additional civil liberties protections and shorter sunsetting timetables. Well done.House leadership
: (Incomplete). Tom DeLay's still lurking. It's time for a change. The caucus ought to get that done when they return in January.
There must be more of these that I wanted to add but they're slipping my mind. If I think of any more, I'll update.