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New Year, New Congress

New Year, New Congress

With a 27-second pro forma session this morning, the Senate adjourned, essentially closing the book on the 110th Congress. Such pro forma sessions (when one senator appears to open and immediately close the chamber) are necessary every four days to keep the president from making any interim appointments–a power he has if the Senate is in extended recess.

The 111th Congress will be sworn in at noon on Tuesday, despite a few seats still under debate (Minnesota’s Senate contest between Al Franken and Norm Coleman remains unresolved, and the Blagojevich scandal in Illinois has cast doubt upon his pick of Roland Burris to fill Obama’s vacant Senate seat).

Democrats are looking forward to greater majorities in both the House and Senate for the 111th Congress, hoping that bills like the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act, the Employee Free Choice Act, the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program authorization–all of which stalled or failed with the 110th Congress–might gain traction.

And, of course, the biggest task in front of the 111th Congress will be to develop an economic stimulus plan that will actually stimulate our economy. Given the economic situation, Congress is also prioritizing confirmation hearings for the financial and national security cabinet nominations. It’s expected that confirmation hearings will go fairly smoothly; there have been few objections to any of Obama’s choices.

What issues do you hope to see on the front burner for the 111th Congress when they return on Tuesday? Leave them in the comments.

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1:52PM PST on Jan 7, 2009

I agree, Bush, Cheney, et al, should be held responsible for their crimes against the American people and the rest of the world. The two biggest issues for the new Prez (glory hallelujah) will be straightening out the economy and undoing the damage to the environment done by the Bushies. Oh, make that three -- end the war NOW!

8:27AM PST on Jan 7, 2009

Priority needs to be the Copenhagen agreement on greenhouse gas reduction. Attacking global warming means more green jobs, less money to fossil-fuel producing nations (most of whom don't like us very much), less money for supporting terror, a stronger dollar, cleaner air domestically, and better public health. I see no downside.

7:30AM PST on Jan 7, 2009

Yes, reinstate the Constitution, which should be very possible since President Obama (doesn't that sound great?) has been a constitutional lawyer. Then outlaw torture. Outlaw torture, please!!! I am terrified of torture, and all the rest of us need to be, also, since it accomplishes nothing of value and puts all of us at risk.

9:33PM PST on Jan 6, 2009

Bush has spent the last eight years treating America liked an abused spouse: he lies to her, humiliates her, and blows through all the money. But without question, the deepest cut has been the adoption of torture, and the cowardly acquiescence to that obscene practice by most of the populace. "Well, if it keeps me safe..." Idiots! Torture won't keep you safe! Millions of people watch football games each week in America and get more upset over a late hit than they do about waterboarding prisoners who've been taken out of the game. Kick a dog to death and you'll spend time in jail. Order or personally engage in the torture of prisoners and you'll be hailed as a patriot. Christian country like hell. The silence of the Evangelical community is deafening. Still think torture is alright? Maybe that's a good thing, because you may be next. And who will come to your defense? Ending torture should be Obama's first order of business, along with prosecuting everybody responsible for it, and that means Bush, Cheny, Rumsfeld, Rice, Stephen Hadley, David Addington. Send them to Guantanamo, that would be a good start.

7:58PM PST on Jan 6, 2009

President Obama should appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute George Bush, Dick Cheney and all others who helped them with torture and the rest of their crimes. We also need to have all the ridiculous laws repealed and restore our rights. Additionally, Obama needs to address the insane new law letting health care workers refuse treatment to women seeking family planning, abortion services treatment for rape or birth control. This should be a priority.

6:20PM PST on Jan 6, 2009

A SERIOUS effort needs to be launched to address (if not eliminate) the corruption in our government - including the special interest influence through lobbyists etc.

9:56AM PST on Jan 4, 2009

The first thing all American citizens should have done, the minute the act was committed, was
to have stepped forward...saying, ''Oh, you want to take away our democracy, and our rights? We voted you in, we can also impeach you.

9:47AM PST on Jan 4, 2009

First things first. This Congress needs to reinstate all citizen rights covered under the
U.S. Constitution and Bill Of Rights, which Bush has destroyed. Citizens first need to take that deep ''breath of relief'', for the first time since Bush signed the Patriot Act. Secondly, he needs to pay for his political crimes against American citizens. He should be held accuntable for the mess he created in our nation.

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