November 30, 2006
It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.And it's not like they even had that many campaign promises. They basically ran on "vote for us, we're not them". In the coming weeks and months we should be finding out about more serious concerns - the pledges that they didn't campaign on but made to their special interest group supporters.
But with control of Congress now secured, Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation's intelligence agencies. Instead, Democratic leaders may create a panel to look at the issue and produce recommendations, according to congressional aides and lawmakers.
Because plans for implementing the commission's recommendations are still fluid, Democratic officials would not speak for the record. But aides on the House and Senate appropriations, armed services and intelligence committees confirmed this week that a reorganization of Congress would not be part of the package of homeland-security changes up for passage in the "first 100 hours" of the Democratic Congress.
Captain Ed puts it plainly:
People should take note of the reforms that the Democrats wish to pursue in this next session of Congress. They want to clear out the Republicans from the levers of power, but offered John Murtha for Majority Leader, along with his pork-barrel extortive politics and the legacy of Abscam. They promised a tough and competent effort on national security, but offered a disgraced and impeached former judge to run the Intelligence Committee. Democrats pledged to take immediate action on all of the Commission's recommendations, but they will balk at any meaningful reform that limits the power of their master appropriators, including Murtha himself.At least Pelosi and Co. can say they were for the recommendations before they were against them.
In other words, the Democrats plan on using Intelligence budgets the same way that both parties have used them in the past: as a means to perform favors for powerful friends. Those who believed they voted for change in the midterms might find themselves vindicated; it looks like Congress will change for the worse, and in record time at that.
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