tampabay.com

What Congress did, didn't do

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published September 30, 2006


Congress tried to wrap up its work Friday to leave for five weeks of campaigning before the midterm elections. Some actions:

What Congress did

- Congress sent President Bush a bill allowing military commissions to prosecute terrorism suspects with legislation that also spells out violations of the Geneva Conventions.

- The Senate sent Bush a $448-billion defense spending bill that includes $70-billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

- Congress sent to Bush a nearly $35-billion homeland security spending bill, which included an overhaul of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $1.2-billion for increased border fencing to discourage illegal immigration.

- Senate Democrats blocked a final vote on sending Bush a bill that would make it a crime for anyone but a parent to take a girl across state lines to obtain an abortion. The bill, which also would subject physicians to criminal penalties, was passed Tuesday by the House.

- The Senate authorized a $1.5-billion program to create national heritage areas and tourism projects.

- A bill to make 361 seaports safer from biological, chemical or nuclear attacks neared final votes in the House and Senate. Democrats complained it shorted security for railroads and mass transit. Republicans added a measure to restrict Internet gambling.

- The House passed a bill giving landowners easier access to federal courts to challenge environmental and safety regulations affecting the value of their property. It stands little chance of passing in the Senate.

- The Senate sent to President Bush a bill to build 700 miles of new fencing along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. The House passed this bill two weeks ago.

What Congress didn't do

- The House and Senate could not reconcile their differences over legislation allowing the warrantless wiretapping of terrorism suspects in time to deliver a bill before the election. The White House may get the authorization in a postelection session.

- Spending bills for annually funded government programs other than defense and security remained unfinished, delaying planned spending increases for veterans' health care.

- Congress did not renew a host of tax breaks that expired at the end of 2005, including deductions for tuition, teachers' classroom expenses and state and local sales taxes, as well as a research and development credit for businesses.

- The House and Senate could not resolve their differences over comprehensive immigration and border security bills passed in each chamber.

- Efforts to merge different House and Senate bills expanding offshore drilling failed.

- The House and Senate responded to lobbying scandals by passing ethics bills, but they couldn't reconcile their differences and send an overall measure to the White House for signing.

- New York and New Jersey senators blocked Senate action authorizing $2.1-billion for victims of HIV/AIDS because it would shift aid from urban to rural areas. The House passed it Thursday night.