Tuesday, October 7, 2008

DC News Briefs: High Court, Lame Ducks, and Goodbye to Larry Craig

A few news updates from this gorgeous autumn day in our Nation's Capital.

Senate Shenanigans: Fulfilling my prediction from way back in January, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has already scheduled a lame duck session beginning Nov. 17. Senators will already be in Washington for the biennial meetings to elect party leaders and set the rules of their chambers...so the timing works.

In the meantime, beginning Monday the Senate will hold the first of a series of pro forma Senate sessions -- which means the Senate will not be going into recess. As a result, President Bush will be prevented from naming any recess appointments -- as he's been known to do.

Mr. Wide Stance Says Goodbye: Sen. Larry "I'm Not Gay" Craig (R-ID), forced out of office because of one of the more memorable sex scandals in political history, said goodbye on Thursday to a mostly empty Senate chamber. Has it really been only a year since the Idaho Republican unleashed some of the best political satire Washington has ever seen with his arrest in an airport bathroom sex sting? With much less fanfare — in fact, none at all — Craig delivered his last speech to the nearly vacant Senate floor. A couple of senators troubled themselves to say nice things about his legislative record; Craig said good things about them in return -- and then it was OVER. Finally. Godspeed, Larry.

Supreme Court Begins New Term: The first Monday in October is always the first day of the new high court session. The 2008-09 term has a docket that includes cases about employment and sex discrimination, education, and others. Among the cases already accepted for review are a case where the justices will decide whether Title IX provides the exclusive legal remedy for cases of sex discrimination in public schools. Fitzgerald v. Barnstable School Committee (Case No. 07-1125) is scheduled for argument Dec. 2. The court will also be hearing a case that will provide the basis for a potentially important ruling on job discrimination. The question is whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects a worker from being dismissed because she cooperated with her employer’s internal investigation of alleged sexual harassment of another worker. Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (No. 06-1595) will be argued Oct. 8.

Pork Barrel Spending Brings ... Presents? One of Rep. John Boehner’s (R-OH) district offices -- the one in West Chester, OH, to be exact -- was evacuated Monday after a suspicious package from Georgia arrived in the mail. After noticing it was leaking an oily substance, Boehner's staff called the Capitol Hill police in Washington, DC. The police advised the staff to evacuate as a precaution and call in local authorities. After an X-ray analysis, police investigators determined the package contained -- bacon. On a related note, Boehner voted twice last week for a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry.

House Republicans Break a Record ... for Gridlock: The Grand Old Party in the House managed to rack up a new record for the 110th Congress -- 120 motions to recommit overall during the two-year period, more than doubling the previous record of 56 set by Democrats in the 109th Congress. What is an MTR, you thoughtfully ask? Well, it's a parliamentary maneuver -- traditionally the right of the minority party -- to provide one last chance to amend or kill the bill. So yes, MTRs basically direct to House to go back to the drawing board -- and muck up the works as well. Wanna slow things down? Offer an MTR. Want to make the majority party nuts? Offer and MTR that picks off some of the majority party's members. In that vein, it is important to note that within this new gridlock record was another record -- 24 of the 120 MTRs were actually adopted, far exceeding the old record of 6 set by the 106th Congress. This means the ruling party -- the Democrats -- got beat at their own game 24 times. Yikes. Come on, Nancy, you can do better than that.

Stevens Gets Busted by ... Himself: Jurors listened Monday to a secretly recorded phone call in which Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) coaches the businessman on how to avoid an obstruction of justice charge. That same businessman paid for a major renovation of Stevens’ home. In the October 2006 phone conversation, it was clear that Stevens was aware that a grand jury was investigating his conduct. During the call, Stevens urged the businessman to forgo additional conversation and start communicating with him primarily through lawyers. Of course, little did Stevens know that Bill Allen, head of he oil services company VECO Corp., was already cooperating with federal investigators. Stevens is in a tough re-election race, and these calls, this trial -- well, let's just say Alaskans are growing increasingly weary of Uncle Ted.

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.


Anonymous said...

Wait a second! The office in Ohio got a suspicious package, so the called the Capitol Police?

What kind of sense deos that make?

ZaftigRedhead said...

Yep, the district office in Ohio called the Capitol Hill Police in DC. I suspect it's part of their protocols after the anthrax scare several years ago. The Capitol Hill Police have jurisdiction or at least a very keen interest in congressional offices -- wherever they are.