Saturday, October 29, 2005

Off On a Tangent

Everyone else is going to be blogging about Scooter Libby and Karl Rove and possibly still Harriet Miers, and almost everyone is more qualified to do that than I am. So let's leave them to it. I'm a little concerned that a few other things are going to go unnoticed in the fracas.

For one thing, I can't quite let go of this Davis-Bacon Act thing. Perhaps it felt like the White House was adding insult to injury to reduce the wages of the people trying hard to recover from a devastating hurricane and devastatingly inept disaster responses at the federal level. I've recently learned that the decision to end the suspension of Davis-Bacon was more tangled than I had thought. (WHY am I continually surprised by this stuff???)

Last Thursday, Rep. George Miller from California filed a joint resolution under a little-known and never-used provision of the 1976 National Emergencies Act, which allows Congress to rescind a national emergency declaration made by the President. Apparently, President Bush was in such a rush to cut workers' wages that he did it even BEFORE he had officially declared a national emergency.

Remember, he was vacationing on his ranch and dithered about the declaration, waiting a day to declare ANYTHING and then leaving out the counties that had been hardest hit. They weren't declared until the next day. And THEN he abandoned his vacation and went back to Washington. But somewhere in there he did have time to suspend Davis-Bacon. So the President's suspension of this act may have been illegal and may not provide any protection to the contractors who had been acting, they thought, under its authority.

In any case, acting on Rep. Miller's resolution would have required a floor vote of the House by the second week of November. That vote became unnecessary when the President decided to end the suspension himself. One has to wonder why he did that. It seems to me that he felt threatened by *gasp* a united Democratic front (unfortunately not our strong suit), a small group of Republicans, religious groups, and labor. It was take action himself and pretend like he always meant for the suspension to be temporary, or face having it over-turned.

We Democrats need to do this united front thing more often. It actually works.

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