Monday, November 13, 2006

Lame Duck Senate Session Starts Today

It's only going to last a couple of weeks between now and the new year, but the Senate opens for business again today with a decidedly different scenario in place than when it went on recess in October for the midterm elections. As everyone knows, the do-nothing Republican Congress was sent an abundantly clear message on November 7, when voters elected a significant Democratic majority to the House of Representatives and voted Democrats into six new seats in the Senate, giving them control of that body as well.

While Republicans will still be the majority party when the Senate reconvenes today -- thus, giving them a last chance to do absolutely nothing but George W. Bush's bidding -- they do so with the other side of the aisle knowing that a filibuster will work on everything and that anything Democrats don’t want, isn’t going to happen.

So what will get discussed during this abbreviated lame-duck session?

Well, on Thursday, Bush sent the nomination of John Bolton to be the top U.S. diplomat at the United Nations back to the Senate for reconsideration. At the same time, he has also called on the Congress to validate his illegal domestic spying program before Democrats take over in January.

Dick Durbin (D-IL), the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, reinforced my belief that the chances are better that I will become Britney Spears' next temporary husband, than they are that these two things will go through.

"For a Republican Congress to have gone forward for two years and produced so little, and then for the president to come up with a huge agenda for the next two weeks, you have to ask him, 'Why didn't you use some of the time you spent arguing on some less important issues before?'" said Durbin.

And Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), who will become the next chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said last week that he opposes the Bolton nomination, saying "I see no point in considering Mr. Bolton's nomination again."

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), said his agenda for the next few weeks includes completion of the nuclear agreement with India, renewing selected tax breaks, bioterrorism and offshore drilling legislation, and generally deciding how to fund the government for the next year.

So, in addition to beginning his search for a new, obnoxious bully to represent us on the U.N. world stage, Bush may want to also consider how he's going to continue spying on Americans now that a new team is taking over in Congress. The once-secret program for wiretapping without warrants is getting a huge thumbs down already from at least one key Democrat.

"We have been asked to make sweeping and fundamental changes in law for reasons that we do not know and in order to legalize secret, unlawful actions that the administration has refused to fully divulge," said Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the next Judiciary Committee chairman. "If legislation is needed for judicial review, then we should write that legislation together, in a bipartisan and thoughtful way."

Boy, things are looking up already, aren't they?