Friday, January 30, 2009

Legislative Update IV

President Obama signed his first bill into law this week. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act reversed a 2007 Supreme Court decision declaration pay discrimination claims must be filed within 180 days of the first offense. This law triggers a new 180-day window after each discriminatory paycheck. Lilly Ledbetter is an Alabama woman who discovered after 19 years on the job at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co that she was the lowest-paid supervisor at her plant despite having more experience than several male co-workers. President Obama remarked that it seemed fitting that the first bill he would sign into law stood for greater equality.

Despite President Obama personally consulting and making concessions with the GOP, the House of Representatives passed its version of the economic stimulus bill without a single Republican vote. The Senate will take up its version next week, where it will need at least a few Republican votes to pass. Then, changes will need to be worked out between the two chambers and passed again before President Obama can sign it into law.

The Senate passed its bill to expand the SCHIP program. The House will take up the same measure next week, and President Obama will sign it into law. President Bush had vetoed the bill, but now with a Democratic President and greater Democratic majorities in Congress, this version of the bill gives even more of what Democrats wanted.

Also, the Senate for a second time approved a bill that delays the national transition to digital television to June 12th from February 17. The House failed to pass the bill under rules that required a two-thirds majority due to Republican opposition. The House will likely pass it when it takes it up again next week under normal rules that requires only a simply majority to pass. President Obama will sign the bill.

Lastly, Attorney General-designate won a strong 17-2 recommendation from the Senate Judiciary Committee and should receive bipartisan approval from the full Senate on February 2nd.

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