Thursday, June 11, 2009

Legislative Update XVI

The House of Representatives passed a bill tripling aid to Pakistan, including both economic aid and military aid (with conditions that require the Obama administration to certify that Pakistan remains committed to combating terrorist groups) to help the national battle extremism on more than one front. The House also passed the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act to enhance the U.S. foreign policy efforts of the State Department and the Peace Corps.

Also, the House passed "cash for clunkers" legislation that would offer up to $4,500 in cash rebates to help people who trade in cars or SUVs with a combined fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon or less to buy newer, more fuel efficient vehicles (I may take them up on that!).

And lawmakers who steer money and contracts to favored companies, and receive campaign contributions in return for funding for pet projects in the form of earmarks, might face a House ethics committee investigation.

The Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill (even our two Republicans Senators here in Texas voted for it!) allowing the FDA to regulate tobacco products - allowing the agency to regulate nicotine content and advertising gears towards the young. The House already passed a similar bill, but they will pass the Senate version Friday to get it quickly to President Obama's desk for signature. Unsurprisingly, many of the Senators voting "nay" receive a lot of tobacco lobby money...

The Senate also confirmed by unanimous consent the nominations of Army Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal to be the next commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan and Navy Adm. James Stavridis to be commander of U.S. forces in Europe and the top NATO commander.

UPDATE: The House and Senate have reached compromises to give retroactive bonuses to those in the military under "stop-loss" orders and on several issues in the held-up war funding bill.

No comments: