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January 06, 2009

The First Ten Senate Bills of the Eleventy-First Congress

You may want to fix yourself a drink before I go through them. At the moment these are placeholders on Harry Reid's wishlist. Keep in mind that incoming Congresses usually pinch off a few bills that don't necessarily go anywhere. Also, the Democrats are going to have to bear down and set the details on these and that may give us some opportunity to tug things towards the center.

S.1 -- American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This is the stimulus package. Democrats are halfheartedly trying to reach out to Republicans on this one. Bully for them, but I'm with Ace about trading one-time tax relief for long-term intervention.

S.2 -- Middle Class Opportunity Act of 2009. This is where several tax reforms relating to education, the alternative minimum tax, and child tax credits will go. Rumor is that card check could make another appearance as well as last year's failed Ledbetter Law.

S.3 -- Homeowner Protection and Wall Street Accountability Act of 2009. This would more accurately be titled the "No More Mortgages for Anyone Act." This is the Democratic plan to put a moratorium on foreclosures and rewrite existing loan contracts. The predictable result of this meddling is much higher interest rates, even if it doesn't cause a few lending institutions to collapse.

S.4 -- Comprehensive Health Reform Act of 2009. Still a big blank. It could be Obama's plan, which creates a new federal health insurance bureaucracy, penalizes small businesses, places mandates on parents, and forces private health insurers to accept all comers. Don't forget the paperless health system! Or it could be something more like Hillary Clinton's mandatory, universal care. I'm on pins and needles over here!

S.5 -- Cleaner, Greener, and Smarter Act of 2009. Harry Reid had the same bill in 2007. That one didn't go anywhere, but maybe the newer, snappier name will make a difference.

S.6. -- Restoring America’s Power Act of 2009. This one is almost certainly just a pro forma attempt to sound like they've got a clue when it comes to foreign policy. They're not going to step on Obama's toes right off the bat, which means this one's already a dead letter.

S.7 -- Education Opportunity Act of 2009. Same here. Despite the screeching of the teacher's unions, there is no Democratic consensus on education. About the only thing they can agree on is that saying they are "For Education" is good politics. Consequently, they have one like this every time.

S.8 -- Returning Government to the American People Act. Blame Bush: The Law! The idea is to review and possibly legislate away Bush-era regulatory reforms. Regulations from the EPA (but especially the EPA) to the VA and everything in between could face review.

S.9 -- Stronger Economy, Stronger Borders Act of 2009. This is the Artist formerly known as "Comprehensive Immigration Reform." He got a better agent.

S.10 -- Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009. This is Democratic lip service for the things they've already thrown out the window: pay-as-you-go and deficit reduction.

I'm surprised that abortion didn't make the list. For comparison, here is Harry Reid's wishlist from the 110th Congress:

  • S. 1 -- Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007. [Passed and signed into law in September 2007.]
  • S.2 -- Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. [An alternative minimum wage hike passed in 2008.]
  • S.3 -- Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2007 [Bo-oring!]
  • S.4 -- Improving America's Security Act of 2007. [The 9/11 Commission recommendations, signed into law in August 2007.]
  • S.5 -- Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007. [Vetoed.]
  • S.6 -- National Energy and Environmental Security Act of 2007. [Big ol' ZERO.]
  • S.7 -- College Opportunity Act of 2007. [Referred to a committee; promptly forgotten.]
  • S.8 -- Rebuilding America's Military Act of 2007. [Referred to a committee; subsequently ignored by Dems.]
  • S.9 -- Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007. [You know how that one ended; everyone can reach over their shoulder and scratch another notch onto their bedpost.]
  • S.10 -- Restoring Fiscal Discipline Act of 2007. [These words, I do not think they mean what you think they mean.]

Your guess is as good as mine for how much influence Republicans will have on legislation in the 111th Congress. Norm Coleman's seat is still (barely) in contention and even if Al Franken becomes a senator, Democrats are still one short of a filibuster-proof majority. Of course, that makes slippery Republicans like Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter the most important Republicans in the Senate. On second thought, I think I'll have another drink.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 10:43 PM

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