American Opinion: What Congress must accomplish: Some must-dos in the waning days of the 117th session
From the editorial: The lame ducks of Congress in Washington must finish their work.
Democrats will control the Senate and Republicans have majority in the House in the 118th Congress starting on Jan. 3, but the current 117th session still has some important business remaining. Even as Election Day vote counting continues on the last few House contests, the lame ducks in Washington must finish their work.
Still outstanding is Sen. Joe Manchin’s essential proposal to speed energy projects through the slow and burdensome rules of the National Environmental Policy Act. Congress and President Joe Biden already streamlined the NEPA procedures for transportation and, as a condition of his support for the Inflation Reduction Act, Manchin won a promise from Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that further streamlining would be attached to must-pass legislation this year. Time is running out.
Time is also running out for hundreds of thousands of Dreamers, immigrants brought here as kids without legal status who have known the U.S. as their only home and are trapped by a cruel and senseless law that could subject them to deportation. Presidents Obama, Trump and Biden all agreed on this one, that the Dreamers should stay, but the federal courts have made a mishmash of the executive order DACA program that let the Dreamers remain in this country. Only Congress can fix this mess.
The World Trade Center Health Program, which provides medical monitoring and treatment to the vast number of people sickened — and too often dying — from the toxins released when the twin towers were destroyed on 9/11, is staring down a $3 billion shortfall in funding. Unless more money is added soon, care for these responders and survivors, the heroes and victims of 9/11, will have to be rationed. No one opposes plugging the hole, but it still hasn’t happened yet.
There is also a bill affecting just one person, Ben Ferencz, the last living Nuremberg prosecutor. By acclamation, the House moved to bestow on him a Congressional Gold Medal Act for a lifetime of service to the cause of justice. The Senate can’t dally. He’ll turn 103 in March.
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