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Democrats Celebrate Seizing Power, and Begin the Pork
WASHINGTON, DC Nancy Pelosi was sworn in this week as the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives, but not the first Speaker without balls. In an historic moment, filled with ceremonial majesty and bipartisan spirit, Pelosi declared, "To the victor goes the spoils!"Ł
She immediately set the rank-and-file to work on "śreforming' ethics rules. Democratic members convened and agreed to defer reforms for four years, and then invited Democratic special interests lobbyists to take them to lunch.
Formality reigned, as always, in the Senate, where Vice President Cheney administered the oath of office to Senators. Former President Clinton watched from the gallery as his wife, Hillary, was sworn in for a second term. He dodged questions about her Presidential ambitions, replying "What is the name of that cute intern over there?"Ł referring to a fat and ugly one.
Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, issued a challenge to President Bush over the war in Iraq. "Completing the mission in Iraq is the President's job," said Reid, "and we will do everything in our power to ensure he can't do it."
Leading a slender majority in the Senate, Reid said, "Some may look at this composition as a recipe for gridlock, but I see it as a unique opportunity. We must turn over the page, whether gay or hetero, but no e-mails, please, and don't get caught!"Ł
Democrats said they had the votes to assure passage of rules changes designed to end what they called a "śculture of corruption.' The changes will ban privately-financed trips and flights on corporate jets by House members, except that House members would still be allowed to take trips and flights financed by foundations that seek to influence public opinion, but only if the Democratic-controlled ethics committee approves the foundation's programs.
House Democrats have an ambitious agenda for the next few weeks. They have pledged to pass bills to raise the minimum wage "ô for House members "ô and to permit funding for stem cell research using Chris Reeve's spine. However, House Democrats have reversed their campaign pledge to ban earmarks, which totaled $64 billion "ô or almost half the deficit "ô last year. Instead, they plan to require that the names of House members responsible for earmarks be included in the earmarks.
"We believe in giving credit where credit is due,"Ł said Pelosi. "This publicity over who actually created the pork should help our members back in their constituencies!"Ł
By custom, lawmakers bring their children to opening ceremonies in the House. This year, newly elected Mexican-American lawmakers brought their children, although they surprised Anglo members by ritually sacrificing them.