Oversight

A weekly rundown of the latest efforts of lawmakers to scrutinize the actions of the executive branch.

• HOUSE COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM: (2/6/08) — Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) wrote a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, urging him to abandon the proposed rulemaking on New Source Review, a program that sets benchmarks that determine when utilities are required to install new anti-pollution controls.

“This proposal would roll back existing air quality protections for national parks and wilderness areas, making it easier to build large, new polluting facilities nearby without installing adequate pollution controls,” Waxman wrote.

• SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE: (2/5/08) — Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) joined a chorus of complaints Democrats leveled against President Bush’s proposed fiscal year 2009 budget. Baucus took particular exception to administration projections of a budget surplus.

“It’s a cheap trick to advertise a budget surplus at the expense of programs like Medicare and Medicaid,” Baucus said in a statement. “And I am particularly concerned that allocations for AMT [Alternative Minimum Tax] assistance and the Iraq war woefully underestimate our needs for the longer term.”

• SENATE ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE: (2/4/08) — Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), committee chairwoman, said the proposed budget for the Environmental Protection Agency sends a clear message “that cleaning up our environment is not a priority for the Bush administration.”

• SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION, LABOR AND PENSIONS COMMITTEE: (2/6/08) — Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), committee chairman, criticized a proposed Labor Department rule to alter the foreign guest worker program for agriculture.

“Increased penalties for employers who break the law make sense, but it’s wrong to slash wages for hard working farm workers and undermine labor standards for Americans as well. We need a solution that will ensure an adequate labor supply and is fair for our agricultural workforce.”