The Legislative Agenda for the 108th Congress
Not everyone in this world gets a second chance. But after the elections of 2002, the Republicans are once again in charge of the United States Senate ? the world's most deliberative body. More importantly, however, for the first time in 50 years, the GOP will have control of the Senate, House of Representatives and the White House, giving them an opportunity to control the legislative agenda. Here's a short summary of what we can expect legislatively next year.
First and foremost, the 108th Congress will have to complete action on all the appropriations bills that were wrapped into one convenient Continuing Resolution so Members up for reelection could go home and campaign. That effort will be followed by work on a Budget Resolution for Fiscal Year 2004 and what they call a Budget Reconciliation package ? which is aptly named because it is the vehicle for reconciling the budget or carrying out the terms of the budgetary blueprint for all the programs of the Federal Government. Then, believe it or not, Congress will begin work on a whole new set of appropriations bills to fund the government for FY 2004. Yes, for those of you not familiar with the work of that distinguished group of 535 Members of Congress, it's an endless cycle, fraught with partisan bickering and political infighting. But it's all part of the game and one of the main reasons why it takes so long to get anything done on Capitol Hill.
Aside from the normal legislative items such as the budget and appropriations bills, I expect the Bush Administration to present Congress with an economic stimulus package full of tax incentives aimed at getting the economy moving again. With the dismissal of two of his key economic advisors, it is very obvious that President Bush is serious about improving the economy and hell bent for election (if you'll pardon the pun) to avoid repeating his father's mistakes of 1988. It will be interesting to see how the stimulus package shakes out. Because of the size of the proposal ? as much as $300 billion in tax benefits ? some of the more deficit conscious members of Congress may not be easily persuaded that the entire package is absolutely necessary. So President Bush will have to work more closely with conservative Democrats and the Republican Leadership to push this bill through. I for one am confident he can do it and that its impact will be felt almost immediately.
A little closer to home, a few of the issues we'll be following, aside from the economic stimulus package, are estate tax reform, ergonomics, association health plans, a tax credit for hiring and training new apprentices, as well as legislation addressing federal contracting concerns such as bid shopping, bid listing, contract bundling and prompt pay.
Needless to say, it will be a busy year and I look forward to working with all of you to make it a successful one for the Mason Contractors Association of America and its members.
About the Author
Marian J. Marshall was the Director of Government Affairs for the Mason Contractors Association of America.