• One of the annual Washington rituals calls for the President to send Congress an administration budget proposal for the next fiscal year. President Bush followed through with a FY2007 plan asking for $27.7 trillion. The proposed budget would increase defense spending by 7 percent and cut some $15 billion from 141 programs in nine of 15 Cabinet agencies.
United States federal budget
When Congress returned from its August recess, both houses set about to debate what to do about the declining budget surplus and what to do about spending.
• Even though the Senate and the House of Representatives did not sit in session during August, a multitude of committee and subcommittee meetings convened during this period to look into the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the aftermath and how to avoid such events in the future.
Keeping with custom, Congress deserted Washington for the dog days of August with some small sense of accomplishment. Of the 1,570 bills submitted in the Senate and the 2,987 in the House before the recess, Congress tallied but 66 bills and resolutions that were signed into law. The Republican Study Committee reported that of those 66, 35 contained little or no significant costs to taxpayers.
Lawmakers had much to think about when they returned from their summer break at the end of August. A Gallup poll revealed that the job approval rating for the Democrat-led Congress had dropped to 18 percent, the lowest rating since Gallup began tracking public opinion in 1974. When the Democrats took control of Congress in January the job approval rating was 35 percent.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in late January announced that the federal deficit is expected to climb to $477 billion this year, up from $375 billion last year. It also estimated that, in the next 10 years, the government will accumulate nearly $2.4 trillion in additional debt.
— Following tradition, Congress escaped Washington’s heat and humidity by taking its customary recess in August. Left pending was President Bush’s nomination of John Roberts Jr., to replace Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who retired. That gave the Democrats time to take potshots at the nominee’s previous court records and opinions and the press time to dig into his past as part of the media vetting process.
- Page 3