Dems try to pass omnibus environmental bill in lame-duck session

Ed Morrissey

When voters sent 63 Democrats in the House and six more in the Senate packing in the midterms, the message seemed fairly clear. Voters had become disgusted with the progressive agenda forced through Congress by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, spending most of the year taking over the American health-care system while the economy stagnated and unemployment rose to post-WWII records. With the economy stagnating and the tax environment uncertain, and with national debt skyrocketing to crisis levels, the electorate wanted Congress to prioritize and focus on these acute issues.

Well, you can’t say that Democrats are inconsistent. Even after getting shellacked in the midterms, Harry Reid will still try to use the remaining time in the 111th Session to tackle his priorities, in part by pushing an omnibus enviro bill through the Senate while stalling on the upcoming tax hikes:

Democratic efforts to push through more than 100 public lands and water bills in the lame duck session are reaching a fever pitch, with the recognition this is the last chance many of them have to become law.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has tasked Democratic leaders on at least three committees to come up with a list of bills that could get past a GOP filibuster. …

A potential Democratic package could include more than 100 measures from at least three panels. Energy and Natural Resources has passed 72 public lands bills that are pending on the Senate calendar and there are others the panel has not yet voted on; the Environment and Public Works Committee has so far given more than a dozen bills to be considered; while the Commerce Committee Friday sent over a list of 13 bills.

A Boxer spokesperson said bills being considered for the package were reported from several committees with bipartisan support. “They represent the work of committees and senators over the course of this Congress and, for many, over the course of a career and they deserve a vote,” the spokesperson said.

Reid may end up creating even more problems in the House, as Politico explains.  With time running out in the lame-duck 111th, Pelosi would have to move these as as special orders outside of the committee process, which will eliminate any time-consuming debates on amendments.  That process requires a two-thirds majority, which Pelosi doesn’t have.  Even if the Senate passes these bills, they stand almost no chance of becoming law.

Some of these bills do have bipartisan support — individually.  However, if Reid attempts to lump them all together, he’ll get the least of the common bipartisanship denominator, not the most.  With Obama already looking to regulatory power for his agenda, Senate Republicans aren’t likely to hand him 100 more entrées to use that power in the next two years, and they’re certainly not going to pass 100 in order to get 50 they like or less.

Finally, even if Democrats didn’t get the message of the midterms, Republicans certainly did.  They’re not about to break ranks just to allow Reid a face-saving maneuver for his base while everyone else waits for Congress to address the upcoming tax hikes, the budget, and jobs.  If Reid wastes legislative time on an omnibus enviro bill instead of addressing the most pressing issues for voters, he will confirm the cluelessness of his caucus and give the GOP a strong argument in 2012 for sending Reid to the minority.

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