Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Daily Strike-3/12/09-Water Pollution/Nominations

Happy Thursday and welcome to The Daily Strike. Here's what happened today in Washington.

THE WHITE HOUSE: Today, President Obama turned his attention back to the economy. He gave a speech this morning touting progress in the implementation of the stimulus money. I hope he makes sure that some Southern governors, like Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Rick Perry of Texas, were listening to the speech. All three governors are rejecting federal stimulus money, namely, money for increased unemployment benefits. Governor Sanford has threatened to use the money instead to pay down state debt. Considering how much pain many South Carolinians are in, like the 10.9% who are unemployed, it's really despicable. We've talked about this before, but it's worth repeating that if you're ideology is making people's lives significantly worse, you better get rid of your ideology.

The President gave a very interesting speech this afternoon to The Business Roundtable in Washington. He talked about creating a post-bubble economic model. He told business leaders that, "We can’t continue to base our economy on reckless speculation and spending beyond our means; on bad credit and inflated home prices and over-leveraged banks.” I'm glad Obama is talking big about the fundamental problem our economy has faced in the past couple of decades. Our wealth needs to be backed up by a strong middle-class, a middle-class that earns good money making goods and services. I know this seems fundamental, but we've gotten so far away from that economic model. Our economy has been based on Wall Street creating bubbles by overvaluing things (like sub prime mortgages) that are end up being worthless. Washington has spent decades looking the other way, even encouraging this type of behavior for the past thirty years. Changing the fundamental structure of the economy would be the best way that Obama could create a lasting legacy.

THE HOUSE: A surprisingly productive, relatively bipartisan day in the House. The House passed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act by a vote of 317-101. All no votes came from Republicans. The bill combined five individual bills that passed the House last session, but had been blocked in the Senate. The bill authorizes funding for various water treatment projects, about $18 billion over five years. This is one of those bills that members love, because they'll usually get to brag about funding some water plant reconstruction project in their district.

The House didn't even have to vote on a special rule governing debate on the bill, because Democrats had agreed to consider 10 amendments. Of those amendments, 9 were approved by unanimous consent (pretty impressive for the House!). Among the accepted amendments were proposals forbidding earmarks, increasing funding for rural water projects, increasing funding to protect against sewage overflow, and providing for effectiveness studies to be undertaken by the Office of Management and Budget.

The one amendment that was voted on, and thankfully defeated, dealt with the prevailing wage provision of the Davis-Bacon Act (passed in 1931). The amendment was offered by Rep. Connie Mack of Florida. According to the act, all public works projects under jurisdiction of the federal government, must pay workers the "prevailing" wage of the area. The "prevailing" wage is median wage paid to workers in a specified locality for similar projects. This program is one of the great successes of the 20th Century. It ensures that workers who work on federal projects are well-trained, usually unionized, employees. President Bush inexplicably suspended provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Relief efforts were thus handed over to unskilled workers, many of them immigrants, who made far less money than they would have from a private construction company. The amendment failed badly, by a vote of 284-140. 35 Republicans opposed the amendment. The only Democrat to support it was Rep. Polis of Colorado. I think this must have been a mistake on his part. He's a liberal freshman from Boulder (also happens to be gay), who has voted with the Democrats on every other issue thus far. Why would he vote against prevailing wages?

The House also voted on one last suspension bill, supporting the designation of "Pi Day." Republicans made some hay about how the House was voting on something like this during an economic crisis, and ten of their members voted against it. Suspension bills are always fodder for some cheap laughs, but they're part of the tradition of the House of Representative, and generally don't take up much time.

The House next week will consider more suspension bills Monday and Tuesday before taking a bill funding a new national service initiative, sponsored by Senators Hatch (R-UT) and Kennedy (D-MA).

SENATE: The Senate voted to confirm two Obama Justice Department nominees. Deputy Attorney General nominee David Ogden was confirmed by a vote of 65-28. Republicans made up 27 of the no votes. The only Democrat to oppose the nominee was pro-life Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who presumably does not approve of Ogden's abortion views. By a vote of 72-20, the Senate also approved the nomination of Thomas Perelli to be Assistant Attorney General. All no votes came from Republicans.

The Senate next week will take up a revised version of the Omnibus Public Lands bill. This was the bill that combined measures previously blocked by Senator Coburn (R-OK). The House tried to pass the bill under suspension of the rules so that they would not have to deal with possible poison-pill amendments, but fell two votes short of the necessary 2/3rds majority. The Senate will try and change the bill enough to eke out those two extra votes in the House.

No word on some other outstanding business, like the DC voting rights bill, the housing cram-down measure, and the budget blueprint. We'll keep you updated as we get more information.

Have a good night! Please read The Big Picture's upcoming post on the Employee Free Choice Act.

1 comment:

  1. The chief source which has contributed to the water pollution is the human beings. Human beings needs the water at par and though a big contributor in the water pollution. The sweet water in the form of rivers and ponds are so polluted that it has come to the level of extinction. Industries are the biggest source of water pollution. Who are releasing large amount of hazardous waste into our water resources. In order to do proper treatment of this waste water consultant like JNB must be contacted