Thursday, June 28, 2007

Legislative Update III

(Xanthippas requested more of this and I'm happy to oblige!)

Bad news first: Rep. Rahm Emanuel's amendment to a 2008 spending bill for the Treasury Department and executive branch agencies to eliminate the vice president's executive office budget (in response to Cheney's assertion that his office didn't need to comply with national security disclosure rules required of other executive branch agencies because he's not part of the executive branch, despite prior claims of executive privilege), was defeated 217-209. Shame on the conservative Democrats that joined Republicans and gave them a bare majority. But the bill faces a veto threat anyway because Democrats lifted restrictions barring the use of federal funds to put in place the District of Columbia's domestic partnership law. Hopefully, the Senate will still try and attach the same measure to their version of the bill.

The House did, however, pass an amendment which would forbid the White House from expending any funds in implementing President Bush's recent changes to the regulatory process. E.O. 13422 amended E.O. 12866 which governs the White House regulatory review process and required federal officials to show that private companies, people or institutions failed to address a problem before agencies can write regulations to tackle it. It also gives political appointees greater authority over how the regulations are written. The House measure “stops this president or any president from seizing the power to rewrite almost every law that Congress passes, laws that protect public health, the environment, safety, civil rights, privacy and on and on,” said Rep. Brad Miller, a North Carolina Democrat who sponsored the bill.

Meanwhile, Rep. Nick Rahall, said that the House Natural Resources Committee panel will hold a hearing into the role Cheney may have played in the 2002 deaths of about 70,000 salmon near the California-Oregon border. Rahall, chairman of that committee, said Cheney's part in developing a 10-year water plan for the Klamath River, reported Wednesday by The Washington Post (in the Cheney series we posted about), resulted in the largest adult salmon kill in the history of the West.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday issued subpoenas to the offices of President Bush, Cheney and others demanding documents on the warrantless wiretapping program, but they are refusing to comply. Ironically, Cheney is again claiming executive privilege.

Also, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday reduced Bush' $3 billion request for the Millennium Challenge Corporation to $1.2 billion in order to boost Bush's $4.2 billion request for the foreign aid bill's global HIV/AIDS account by $940 million. Lawmakers are adding $590 million to the Bush administration's request for a global fund to combat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. But the Senate's foreign aid bill, like the House's, faces a veto because it would ease restrictions on overseas groups that perform or promote abortion by allowing them to receive U.S.-donated contraceptives.

Finally, in another move that faces a veto, the House today amended the fiscal 2008 Financial Services and General Government spending measure to relax restrictions on agricultural trade with Cuba. The White House, of course, rejects any attempts to normalize relations with Cuba in any form.

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