Congress concluded their legislative business for the year in the early morning hours of December 9th, leaving Washington without completing most critical pieces of legislation –including 11 out of 13 spending bills needed to fund the government.  The lack of progress on substantive legislation was disappointing but not entirely surprising given the Republican led Congress’ preoccupation with pursuing divisive bills loaded with political rhetoric at the expense of common sense bi-partisan legislation.

I thought two bills in particular were indicative of the ideologically driven, short sighted approach of the 109th Congress.  One bill was the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, HR 6099.  I opposed this bill and helped lead the successful effort to defeat it.  This bill was a misguided attempt to insert the government into private medical conversations between women and their doctors.  That’s why I was joined in my opposition by over 25 reputable women’s health advocacy organizations, including those representing medical doctors who serve the health needs of women.  It was unfortunate that the Republicans squandered their final days in the Congressional leadership on these types of divisive issues that failed to address the pressing needs of the American people.

Another questionable bill was the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, H.R. 6111.  This bill was crafted by the Republican leadership at the 11th hour and composed of several unrelated provisions.  While the legislation included positive provisions to address a pending cut to Medicare reimbursements for physicians, language allowing new offshore drilling and restructuring how revenues from offshore drilling are dispersed was inappropriately included in the bill.  The offshore drilling provision will roll back critical portions of the Congressional ban on new offshore drilling.  It is also fiscally reckless, redirecting billions of dollars in revenues from offshore drilling in federal waters to a few Gulf Coast states.  This was a very difficult vote.  As much as I supported many parts of the overall bill, I could not in good conscience vote for this legislation because of the budget busting offshore drilling provision.

It is my hope that in the 110th Congress with a new Democratic majority we will see more bi-partisan, common sense legislation enacted in a timely manner on the real issues of importance to the American people.