Not unlike the way the Philadelphia Phillies’ chances of winning this year’s World Series decreased substantially on Sunday when they lost game four to the New York Yankees, the Lockheed Martin/AgustaWestland VH-71 presidential helicopter’s chances of receiving funding in this year’s defense appropriations bill diminished considerably yesterday when Congressman John Murtha (D-Pa.) apparently removed his support of the program.
As a result of the Congressional elections in November, the 108th Congress, due to convene early this month, will enjoy a Republican majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. In the Senate, Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), whom many Washington pundits regarded as an obstructionist when it came to moving legislation through that body, gave way as majority to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.).
• After the November elections, House Democrats vowed to pass the “Six for ’06” bills (minimum wages, stem cell research, energy and so on) in the first 100 legislative hours of the 110th Congress and, to their credit, they did so in 87 hours. However, when those bills were sent to the Senate, three met resistance, one appeared to be destined for a veto by the President and two were subjected to heavy criticism from outside groups.
The comity promised by new House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) lasted all of about 24 hours when the 110th Congress convened last month. As part of the Democrat majority’s 100 legislative-hour program, the chamber passed new ethics rules designed to keep lobbyists distanced from lawmakers and their staffs.
The 110th Congress opened for business on January 4, with the Democrats in control of the Senate and the House of Representatives. After the obligatory congratulatory oratory to honor newly elected legislators, Democrats began the process of showing that they can break the previous legislative deadlock by having both parties involved in solving the country’s problems.
• Congress took a three-week break on November 16 to allow lawmakers to ponder the results of the election. On December 5 lame-duck lawmakers limped back into session but ran like race horses on the way to the finish line and ended the business of the 109th Congress four days later.
• Election Day results delivered a knockout blow to Republican hopes of retaining the majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate. The first blow came as Democrats gained control of the House by the end of the day. Two days later, the last punch came as Republican Sen. George Allen of Virginia, considered a shoo-in for reelection, conceded the election to Democrat James Webb, one time Secretary of the Navy.