Water bill next week: where's the dirt?

Sometimes, in politics, a rose really is a rose - not to mention a rose...

Naturally, I'm surveying yesterday's Daily Digest in search of next week's business - nothing happens on Fridays in Nancy's five day work week paradise, natch: they're all too busy grubbing for moolah!

And see that the Senate will be processing HR 1495, the Water Resources Development Act.

The bill authorizes various water projects to be done by the Army Corps of Engineers. The CBO estimate (see THOMAS page for HR 1495) puts the 15 year cost at $15bn.

(Around the Pentagon budget for paperclips over the period.)

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Labor law from Wagner to Taft-Hartley - Part Two

A couple of weeks ago, I looked at this critical period of labor history as told in the first half of Christopher Tomlins' The State and the Unions: Labor Relations, Law and the Organized Labor Movement in America, 1880-1960.

I've now got to the end (more or less!) of the book.

And two things in Tomlins' treatment of his subject are new to me (how well his views hold up will depend on further research, natch!):

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Iraq: where does Reid-Feingold fit in?

Take a trip down Memory Lane to April 2007 to contemplate the fate of the Reid-Feingold bill S 1077.

R-F was announced on April 2 - Jerome broke the glad tidings here - a few days after HR 1591 passed the Senate.

The R-F splash came after the Obama Chicken Weekend, with Rangel chipping in with a pledge of no defunding. The idea was that offering for consideration a simple withdrawal bill was a way of taking the edge off supporters' disappointment with the apparent lack of fight in Congress.

Follow the tag, and you'll see stuff peters out a fortnight after the grand launch. So far as I'm aware - no Nexis, no idea - talk of R-F died away.

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Iraq bill: House action needs parsing

Let's here concentrate on the McGovern bill (HR 2237) vote.

Much to my surprise - I gave my guess of Dems 2:1 against the bill! - the withdrawal party won handsomely, picking up, amongst many others, Pelosi on the way.

That's a good thing, isn't it?

Well, the vote was, of course, on a bill that was destined to go nowhere. And was speedily followed by the vote on the much more modest and serious HR 2206.

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Trade deal: still shrouded in mystery?

If Sirota himself had choreographed the shenanigans surrounding the deal on free trade agreements announced yesterday, he could hardly have produced a pantomime which more suited his book.

Helpfully, the man himself gives us a timeline with loadsa links.

The golden rule is, don't act as if you've something to hide - especially when you do!

Pelosi and Rangel seem to have gone out of their way to spring a surprise on their people, knowing that, for many of them, it would not be a pleasant surprise.

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Iraq bill kabuki leaves SCHIP kids in trouble

A Hillpiece flags up a side-effect of the Iraq supplemental bill malarkey: there is a deficit in the Medicaid scheme for children SCHIP which Uncle Sam needs to plug.

Unfortunately, the necessary appropriation is manacled to the doomed Iraq bill.

It was in HR 1591 (vetoed) and is currently in HR 2206, which (if it passes the Senate) will suffer the same fate.

What I don't know is whether a separate apps bill for uncontroversial items (as I think (needs checking) the SCHIP extra funding is, even with the WH).

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Farm bill: House bill markup starting soon

A CQpiece from three hours ago ledes thusly:

Rep. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said today that markups will begin the week of May 21 on at least three titles of the 2007 farm bill.

The bill will be huge, contain more corporate welfare than you can shake a stick at, and Peterson wants to deliver a fait accompli to the House:
Peterson reiterated his committee's primacy in the process. "People are misguided if they think the farm bill will be written on the floor . . . it would be a recipe for chaos," he said.

And, though the squeals provoked would be deafening, there's nothing to stop that happening: a closed rule, perhaps even without a motion to recommit.

Now, the Senate will be a whole 'nother story, natch.

But once provisions get added to bills, they're a lot harder (even in the Senate) to get out than to keep out.

The MO proposed by Peterson only makes it more necessary for those of us trying to keep tabs on what's going on (Matt has taken the lead on this) to work with lobbies that are on our side to use their contacts not only to find out what's going on generally, but for copies of legislative texts as they're made available and for help in locating where the bodies are buried - the stinkiest of them, at any rate.

My earlier thoughts on this area from Tuesday.

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Iraq: Dems are the 'rebound guy'?

The prettiest girl in class has had a bad break with her varsity boyfriend.

He lied to her about something real important, and didn't seem to think he'd done anything wrong.

So, well out of the way of prying eyes, she happens to come up to you and chat, and mentions that she's looking for someone sensitive, who can share his feelings, who can converse on a range of topics, who can engage her intellect, who likes puppies - yadda, yadda, yadda.

And that's you, Mr Sensitive Geek-Boy. And pretty soon you're on a kinda sorta date - not a real date, but halfway there - and you're talking and empathizing, and hugging and kissing there by the beach in the warm summer evening breeze; and your hands are all over her ass, and she sounds as though she's liking it.

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Big bills coming down the pike: what can we do?

As well as the usual annual schedule of blockbusters (appropriations and defense authorization, in particular), we're likely to get a number of large-to-enormous bills on the floor of either house of Congress this year.

Amongst them is the farm bill, which I flagged a couple of weeks ago, but did nothing to speak of on.

Now, today, Matt has grasped the nettle and is looking to do some work on the bill.

Which got me thinking about what somewhere like this can do in helping the cause of the just (whatever that might turn out to be!) as a bill like the farm bill makes its way through Congress.

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Drug importation: Kennedy explains his vote

[Following up my earlier piece.]

In what looks like a press release from the man himself (albeit on a wacky site - needs checking), Kennedy says

The White House says the President will veto this bill if it cuts the cost of prescription drugs...

It is my hope that we can move forward to ensure the safety of our food and the safety of our medicines. We owe that to the American people. And if we must fight another day to lower the costs of prescription drugs by allowing Americans to buy cheaper drugs from Canada and other nations, then I stand with my Democratic colleagues to wage that fight. It is a fight that we will win because the American people urgently need relief from rising health care costs.

So I have concluded that the only answer for me is to support the Cochran amendment now, on this bill, so that we can continue the fight for safer medicines, pure food, and a stronger FDA.

Importation was sacrificed for the greater good.

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