Around the State
The McCain amendment proposed to give Fannie & Freddie 30 months to mold into a private home mortgage company and thus cut their ties to the feds. The debate centered on all the money that we, the taxpayers, have spent to make their toxic home mortgages valid and whether Congress is throwing good money after bad. During the debate, McCain reminded senators that the government has already spent $400 billion to prop up Fannie & Freddie, and that on Christmas Eve, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner opened an unlimited line of credit to Fannie & Freddie.
Recently, another $145 billion was spent by the government on Fannie and Freddie home mortgages. The McCain amendment was defeated by a 43-56 vote. Before the vote, McCain pleaded with his colleagues, saying, "Do not look the American people in the eye and say we will never again have a financial collapse. Don't wonder why the American people are fed up when we continue to pour good money after bad, without reforming the institution that caused it."
The House of Representatives passed the COMPETE Act this week, which authorizes money to be spent in our science agencies throughout the government. Aside from this light floor schedule, the majority of the work on the House side was spent behind the scenes by the leadership trying to find votes for "must-pass" legislation that has stalled. Three of these serious legislative initiatives that need House attention are the annual budget resolution, the Afghanistan War supplemental and the extension of the unemployment insurance, COBRA, and delaying the cut in payments to doctors, called the "doctor fix." These bills should be passed by Memorial Day, but that date looks doubtful for at least one of these bills.
The problem that the leadership is struggling with is garnering enough votes to pass these bills. Their members are not as willing to cast votes that will put them at odds with their constituents, especially after the recent loss of Sen. Bill Bennett (R-UT) and Congressman Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV). Both of these veteran members of Congress have served their constituents for a combined near-45 years. Their loss for reelection has scared many House members, and they want political shelter from their leadership.
While Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai spent a week in the U.S. courting Congress and the like, the Democratic leadership used his visit to push their members to support the now-very-pricey $58.8 billion Afghanistan War supplemental appropriations bill. Stay tuned to see how the leadership plans on passing these bills, how expensive they ultimately become and their fate when and if they make it to the Senate.
Elizabeth B. Letchworth is a retired, four-times-elected United States Senate secretary for the Majority and Minority. She is the founder of GradeGov.com.