House's 100 Hour Plan Ahead of Schedule After 1st DayJanuary 10, 2007 - by Donny Shaw
The House of Representatives passed the first part of their 100 hour plan on Tuesday in about 6 hours and 30 minutes. The vote was a bipartisan 299-128 to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. This leaves a little more than 93 hours to complete and pass the remaining 5 bills that the Democrats promised to pass in their first 100 legislative hours.
They plan on churning these bills out, one a day. The rest of the schedule looks like this:
Wednesday, January 10 – Increase the Minimum Wage
Thursday, January 11 – Expand Stem Cell Research
Friday, January 12 – Allow Negotiation for Lower Prescription Drug Costs
Wednesday, January 17 – Cut Interest Rates on Student Loans
Thursday, January 18 – End Subsidies for Big Oil and Invest in Renewable Energy
The The 9/11 Commission recommendations bill was passed with about 70 Republicans voting in favor. Critics of the bill argued two main points: the bill was rushed too quickly through the legislative process, and the cost of the bill, which will be left for figuring out in a separate bill, will be too high. The bill’s crtics will likely take up the same issues with all the remaining measures in the 100 hour plan.
Peter King (R-NY), ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee expressed concern over the bill being a trivialized and rushed version of what it should have been. “To make it part of a 100-hour show shamefully trivializes an issue of life or death.” And in a separate statement from King, “The safety of our nation is too important-we need real action, not just hollow political rhetoric.” Still, King ended up voting in favor of the bill.
Jerry Lewis (R-CA), ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee expressed his concern over the costs. “This bill is a clear indication that the majority’s pledge to offset any new increases in spending is just an empty sound bite,” he said. “There is no way we can afford these programs without raising fees or taxes, and putting the brakes on our nation’s economy in the process.”
Last year, a similar bill was introduced into the Senate with an estimated cost of $53 billion over five years. Critics argue that that is too expensive for how effective they expect the bill to be.
The Senate is expected to take a strong, tempering role when they vote on the 100 hour plan bills that are sent their way from the House of Representatives.
Some Senators are expressing concerns that the 9/11 Commission bill as it is, is impractical. They are particularly worried about the part of the bill that requires 100% of cargo to be inspected at American ports. Right now, only about 15% of cargo is inspected and the huge change to 100% might slow the ports down too much. Senators from small states are also likely to object to another measure in the bill. The measure would take away some of their security funding and redistribute it to other states with higher populations. This issue didn’t affect the vote in the House as much as it will in the Senate because small states are less represented in the House, whereas in the Senate, each state is equally represented by two Senators, regardless of its size.
The Senate is also likely to stall the minimum wage increase that will be voted on in the House today. Senate Republicans are threatening a filibuster if the bill does not include a tax break for small businesses, which it likely won’t.
The fact that these bills are going through the House without real concern for whether the Senate will approve them or not, makes the 100 hour plan seem more like a political move than prudent lawmaking.
On the other hand, if yesterday’s vote on the first bill of the 100 hour plan is any indication, the bipartisan support these measure will receive in the House stands to show that the will and support of lawmakers is there behind them on the issues at least.