Now that lawmakers officially have dispensed with last year’s work, Senate Republican leaders have unveiled their agenda for the rest of the 108th Congress.
“Today really marks a pivot point … for the Republican leadership … as we officially, in my mind, we have completed the 107th Congress … and now entered the 108th,” Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said Friday morning. Both chambers passed the $397.4 omnibus package funding the government for the rest of fiscal 2003 on Wednesday night.
“It took us six weeks. … It was not easy but I am delighted to report that it is done,” Frist said of the omnibus that covered the 11 unpassed spending bills that were due Oct. 1, 2002.
Moving on, he said security for Americans at home and abroad, creating jobs and boosting the economy, and focusing this country’s “compassion and caring for those less fortunate” will be Republicans’ top priorities in the Senate.
Missing from the written list Republican leaders distributed but no less important will be confirming President Bush’s judicial nominations, said Republican Policy Committee Chairman Jon Kyl (Ariz.).
Short on detail, and without any bill text, the list of GOP themes was filled with key words and broad themes, such as jobs, energy and family farms.
For example, under the AIDS heading it said S.12 is the Global AIDS Crisis Response Act and is a bill “to prevent further spread of the global AIDS crisis, and treat and care for the children and families now stricken with the disease.”
Kyl said that while all the bills have numbers and titles, some have been written and others have not.
More immediately, Frist said he would allow Democrats to continue debating the merits of Miguel Estrada, whom Bush has nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, today and after next week’s Presidents Day recess.
“We’re going to come back and we’re going to stay on it until it’s done,” he said, adding that he would make no move to cut off debate until Democrats concede to give him a straight up-or-down vote.