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The Democratic Agenda

The House yesterday passed its rollback of oil industry subsidies by a 264-163 vote, the AP says. "The bill's prospects are uncertain the Senate, where Democrats hold a narrow majority. The top Republican on the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, said the bill was 'another pig in the poke' that targets incentives necessary to promote domestic drilling."

With that passage, House Democrats completed their 100-hour "Six for '06" agenda. The New York Times writes that Democrats cheered that accomplishment, while Republicans derided the hurry-up nature of the effort as a bit of one-sided political showmanship that undercut the Democrats' pledge that the new Congress would be more bipartisan." More: "The $2.10-an-hour increase in the minimum wage may be the legislation with the best chance of becoming law… The outlook for other 100-hour measures is more problematic."

The Hartford Courant adds: "Now comes the hard part - passing the Senate, where rules allow the 49-seat Republican minority much more say, and getting signed into law. All the bills face changes, and at least two, presidential vetoes."

The AP calculates that House Democrats passed their 100-hour agenda in about 87 hours -- "with 13 hours to spare." According to the Democrats' clock, they accomplished the feat in 42 hours. "'No matter how many different ways they want to count it, we made it within our 100 hours,' said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland." 

The Los Angeles Times says the House Democrats' next target focuses on energy independence and global warming. "Pelosi announced that she intended to create a select panel to help craft the party's environmental agenda and had asked committee chairs with jurisdiction over the issue to pass legislation "to truly declare our energy independence" by July 4." 

But Pelosi's decision to create a global warming committee has angered some Democrats, including Rep. John Dingell, who heads the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "'We should probably name it the committee on world travel and junkets… We're just empowering a bunch of enthusiastic amateurs to go around and make speeches and make commitments that will be very difficult to honor,' said Dingell, a champion of the auto industry, which could be required to producing cleaner-burning and more fuel efficient vehicles."

The Washington Post covers yesterday's passage, by a 96-2 vote, of the Senate's ethics legislation. It "would ban gifts, meals and travel funded by lobbyists, and would force lawmakers to attach their names to special-interest provisions and pet projects that they slip into bills. Lawmakers would have to pay charter rates on corporate jets, not the far-cheaper first-class rates they pay now." 

But, per USA Today: "Action on the ethics plan stalled Wednesday after New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg and other Republicans blocked a vote on the bill. They were demanding the measure include what amounts to line-item veto power for the president… The impasse highlighted the difficulty Senate Democrats face in trying to push their agenda in a chamber where they control 51 out of 100 votes." 

Roll Call adds, "Republican leaders agreed to support cloture for the ethics bill after Democrats said they would allow a vote on the Gregg plan as an amendment to the minimum wage bill expected to be taken up next week."