The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Saturday, May 22, 2004

FAKE CONGRESS UPDATE

A development yesterday that I'd like to mention from my simulated congress class, UCSB's famous PS 155, or "SimCong".

--In yesterday's final meeting of the Energy & Environment Committee, the Republican majority pulled a fast one on us. On this occasion two Republicans members were absent, so for once we were on solid footing with them (4 D's, 3 R's) and could potentially stand in the way of the more objectionable bills that might have been introduced.

Early in the session, we were to discuss a bill cosponsored by Representatives Waxman (Alex) and Wexler (Jordan), expanding the Medicare prescription drug benefit. (by the way, because of the class' smaller-than-actual-congress size, the committees were clumped, so the energy committee dealt with health care legislation) Waxman, a member of our committee, began his testimony on the bill, but amid questions as to the bill's cost ($850 Billion) and over how many years that cost would be distributed, he asked to postpone debate on his bill so he could fetch Wexler who was on two flights of stairs away in another committee.

Literally seconds after Waxman left the room, one of the missing Republicans, Jim Kolbe, suddenly shows up, meaning that there were now 4 Republicans present and 3 Democrats.

Waxman was gone for, I'd say, three minutes. In that time, we got railroaded by the Republican majority. Orchestrated by our chair, and over the objections of all three remaining Dems, myself included, Representative Judy Biggert (Shawn) the Republicans altered the agenda to hear a bill which would open the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to extensive oil drilling. Debate on the bill was cut off immediately, as the Republican majority went straight to vote, again over our objections. The three of us, myself (Kucinich), Chris (old man Dingell) and Jesus (Pallone) were aghast.

Fortunately, the House Republicans made the mistake of appointing a level-headed moderate (Gilcrest) to chair the Rules committee, so he'll likely approve rules that compensate us Dems for what happened.

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