Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), ranking Republican on the Senate aviation subcommittee, has also become the ranking minority member of the full Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation following the July 29 indictment of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) on corruption charges.
As the Senate and the House of Representatives neared adjournment for August, both parties in the Senate were patting themselves on the back for their presumed successes.
Daniel Elwell, FAA assistant administrator for aviation policy, planning and environment, has joined the Aerospace Industries Association as v-p of civil aviation. He had been the agency’s point man on environmental matters and directed the annual aviation forecast conference.
With the Republicans retaking control of the Senate when the 108th Congress convenes early next month, some recognizable names will be moving back into the leadership positions they were forced to vacate when former GOP Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont became an independent and allied with the Democrats in the middle of last year.
• Congress recessed for a couple of weeks at Easter time. “Pro forma” sessions continued in the Senate. To keep President Bush from making recess appointments for a number of government positions, the Senate convenes and adjourns in a matter of minutes, thereby blocking presidential action.
• Congress enjoyed a recess for the Thanksgiving holiday period, but not all members of the Senate availed themselves of the break. The Constitution gives a President authority to make appointments to top federal positions without Senate approval if that chamber is adjourned for more than three days without reconvening on the fourth.
• With many eyes focused on the Presidential election date, both houses of Congress worked diligently on such agenda items as tax cuts, disaster relief, counter-terrorism measures and so on so that they could recess on or about October 8 for legislators to hit the campaign trails. How Congressional elections go will affect Senate and House party majorities and, therefore, who will chair various committees.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has raised its estimates of budget deficits. Earlier this year, the prediction was for a deficit of $46 billion for the current fiscal year. However, individual tax receipts were recently projected to run some $40 billion below expectations, and that has caused experts to guess that the deficit could go upwards of $70 billion.
• Congress recessed for about a week to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday and returned to face a full plate of pending legislation before recessing again from July 26 through early next month. As of June 25, the bill count in the House of Representatives rose to 4,753 and, in the Senate, to 2,606, which certainly gave legislators plenty to debate.
• Congressional debates on war funding consumed much of lawmakers’ time and much national media attention. The House passed the $504 billion National Defense Authorization Act by a vote of 397-27. The bill included $141.8 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for Fiscal Year 2008. It now moves to the Senate.