The 108th Congress opened for business the first week in January with a few changes of note. The racial gaffe committed by Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) during the departure ceremonies for Sen. Strom Thurmond forced him out as the Senate Majority Leader.
In his State of the Union address, President Bush proposed cutting income tax and ending the double taxation of corporate dividends, both actions that would reduce government income.
Congress recessed for 16 days in mid-April and when it returned, the major issues facing both houses were President Bush’s proposal for $726 billion in tax cuts, defense spending and Congressional “pork.”
Keeping with custom, Congress deserted Washington for the dog days of August with some small sense of accomplishment. Of the 1,570 bills submitted in the Senate and the 2,987 in the House before the recess, Congress tallied but 66 bills and resolutions that were signed into law. The Republican Study Committee reported that of those 66, 35 contained little or no significant costs to taxpayers.
After investigating an allegation that the FAA destroyed an audiotape of six New York Center controllers’ accounts of the 9/11 attacks, Transportation inspector general Kenneth Mead said he found no indication that the FAA intentionally withheld information.
• H.R.2115, the “Flight 100-Century of Aviation Revitalization Act” introduced in May by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), was combined with S.824, the “Aviation Investment and Revitalization Act,” introduced in April by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and approved by unanimous consent in the Senate in late November. The bill reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration for four years and provides $59 billion in funding.
• Controlling earmarking, or “pork” amendments, and restraining lobbyists’ largesse continued to command the attention of lawmakers, and that led to a spate of committee hearings and bills to reduce public concern about lawmakers’ integrity.
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