Capitol Hill and Chapel Hill, N.C., are miles apart, but former Sen. John Edwards, a Democrat who almost became vice president in 2004, still manages to keep his nose in congressional proceedings.
Late last week, he called on Democrats by letter to ensure the reauthorization of the 1965 Voting Rights Act before the scheduled Aug. 4 recess. He warned that if the Senate delayed action, key provisions of the law would expire, including providing multilingual ballots to voters and special scrutiny for precincts with a history of voter discrimination.
Edwards went so far as to say, “Growing up in the South, I saw the ugly face of segregation and discrimination. I saw African-American kids being sent upstairs in movie theaters. I saw “white only” signs on restaurant doors and luncheon counters. I had hoped those days were over.”
The Senate voted 98-0 to reauthorize the act.
Several Beltway Beat readers are in agreement with White House spokesman Tony Snow that President Bush’s choice of a four-letter word to describe the strife in Lebanon did not warrant additional comment.
At the same time, however, many who weighed in commented that it would behoove Bush to practice proper etiquette when appearing in public (if indeed an old dog can learn new tricks).
Column reader Ed McKinney, for one, writes that Bush made a “fool” of himself when “mouthing off to British Prime Minister Tony Blair like some frat boy . . . meanwhile chewing away at whatever it was in his mouth like a cow chewing his cud.”
McKinney concluded, as did a dozen others, that if the president is not scolded by first lady Laura Bush, then perhaps it’s up to his mother, Barbara Bush, to impress good manners upon her son.
We observed last week that Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, New York Democrat and ranking member of the House Rules Committee, has complained about the Republican leadership passing “meaningless legislation” during a time of more pressing issues.
She cited, for example, the effort to ban homosexual “marriage” during a time of “rising gas prices” — a statement that caused one congressional Republican, who wishes to remain anonymous, to dash off this note to The Beltway Beat:
“In the past two months, the House of Representatives has passed legislation to open (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), increasing our U.S. oil supplies by 50 percent. It is always blocked by Democrats and a few squishy Republican ‘greens.’ Louise Slaughter votes against it. . . .
“Right before the July Fourth recess, a bipartisan group moved legislation through the House of Representatives to open up areas for oil and gas production on our Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) beyond 100 miles. Those lands have been locked up for a quarter century. Currently more than 97.5 percent of our OCS is not being leased for energy production. Louise Slaughter opposed it.
“Refineries? Against them. Holding back supplies artificially against rising demand, and denying new refineries being built to meet (that) same demand just means higher profits for big oil companies. Sometimes we think big oil and the environmentalists are in cahoots towards the same end.
“She can’t have it both ways.”
Apart from the occasional stray, Congress is a two-party system: Republican and Democrat. Nothing confusing about that.
Last week, a delegation from the Senate of Spain paid a visit to Capitol Hill, where they were introduced by Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska.
“We thought we had it bad,” the Republican noted. “There are many parties represented here from our distinguished ally, Spain.”
“Senator Rojo is the president. Senator Lucas is the vice president. Senator Anasagasti is the first secretary, and Senator Caneda is the third secretary. Senator Garcia-Escudero is the spokesperson for the Popular Party, Senator Lerma is the spokesperson for the Socialist Party. Senator Aleu is the spokesperson for the Progressive Catalonian Parties, and Senator Zubia is the spokesperson for the Basque Nationalists. Senator Macias is the spokesperson for the Catalonian Coalition. Senator Mendoza is the spokesperson for the Canary Islands Coalition, and Senator Cuenca is the deputy spokesperson for the Mixed Group.”
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