Legislative Progress Slow for 110th Congress
The first five months of the 110th Congress -- the first Congress led by Democrats in more than a decade -- has had "only a few signature accomplishments on the domestic front," the New York Times reports.
Both houses have approved legislation that would expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, with votes on a final bill expected this summer. However, the bill lacks adequate support to override an expected veto by President Bush (Toner/Hulse, New York Times, 5/26).
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, "The Republicans had a 55-45 majority; they couldn't pass a budget. We have a majority, with Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) being ill, of 50-49, but we passed a balanced budget."
Senate Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said, "We are making progress for the American people, governing effectively and getting results. Our work is not over, it has begun."
However, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, "The first five months of the 110th Congress have been marked by broken promises, missed opportunities and gridlock caused by strife within the majority party's ranks."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, "If this Congress wants to avoid being a do-nothing Congress, it needs to operate on a more bipartisan basis" (Bellantoni, Washington Times, 5/26).
In related news, the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday profiled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who this year "has been making life distinctly uncomfortable for the Bush White House."
Waxman this year has held hearings on a number of issues, such as a hearing last week on mental health care for veterans who return from Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Waxman's critics say he is a 'Bush-bashing' attack dog obsessed with a partisan vendetta," but supporters "say he is a dogged investigator making up for years of neglect during the six years a Republican-controlled Congress exercised little oversight of a Republican-controlled executive branch," the Chronicle reports.
Waxman in an interview said, "I believe in government, and I want government to be effective," adding, "I want us to look and make sure that government agencies are doing a good job for the American people" (Badkhen/Sterngold, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/28).