In case you missed it over the weekend, here is a glimpse into the priorities of the Republican-controlled Congress. Restricting choice for women, that's easy. Done. Overhauling the nation's intelligence systems --- not so fast:
Tucked into a spending bill passed by the House on Saturday -- without debate or discussion -- was a little provision that would prevent federal money from going to agencies that require doctors, hospitals and insurers to provide abortions, cover them, or give referrals to abortion providers. Democrats are calling it a "domestic gag rule" that makes it easier for health care providers to exclude abortion from the list of choices they present pregnant women who don't want to have children; but the measure's Republican sponsor says, hey, what's the big deal, it's just an extension of already in place restrictions on federal aid for abortions. What's one more?
Meanwhile, as this anti-choice policy sails through the House, some powerful Republicans allied with the Pentagon are doing everything in their power, it seems, to prevent the 9/11 commission's recommendations on intelligence reform from becoming law. A deal fell through over the weekend, and now intelligence reform may not happen this Congress. Taking a page from President Bush's debate prep binder, Speaker Dennis Hastert says getting those rank and file behind this otherwise universally-backed intel reform measure is "hard."
9/11 commission chairman Thomas Kean says too bad -- get it done anyway. He told the Boston Globe: ''This cannot be allowed to stand. . . . It looks today like the Pentagon are the most powerful people in Washington. They and their allies have stopped something that 80 percent of the American people favor and which is designed to make the American people safer. If we continue over the next six months without the protections embodied in that bill -- and that's what will happen if they don't come back -- God forbid we get another attack. This will be an awful price to pay."