Some legislative dope off of the Senate side.
One reason not to count out a successful vote in the Senate on both ending the Death Tax, pension reform and some other tax issues is the number of tax and tax credit issues tacked onto the pieces of legislation by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Leader John Boehner.
Frist actually deserves more credit, because while reporters were running around worrying about Republican political failings, Frist and his leadership team were pushing through appropriations bills with far too few earmarks to Senators' likings. Now the Death Tax and minimum wage bill have some earmarks to meet the needs of Democrats. If they vote that bill down, it is doubtful they get a shot at them for the rest of the year.
It is still a 50-50 proposition that they get it through, but the comparatively unlarded approps bills will be interesting to see move onto the floor later this year.
Another byproduct of the minimum wage bill is that some Senate insiders think they will have a shot later this year at some decent fixes to the Medicare system.
Today in The Hill, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader John Boehner continue their public moaning about the supposed unconstitutionality of the FBI search last weekend of the office of troubled Rep. William Jefferson, D-LA. As Archie Bunker would say, they should stifle themselves. Their complaints are going over VERY badly politically with an American public increasingly outraged about horrible congressional ethics and Congress' mentality of being entitled to favors and special deference. Even if they truly believe there is a constitutional problem with the search, they should pursue their complaints less publicly; their moaning makes them look as if they care more about their own prerogatives than they do about what appears to be horrible bribery in their midst. Meanwhile, they probably need a refresher on the COnstitution itself: A carefully crafted search warrant will not, on its face, violate the "speech and debate" clause in the COnstitution that protects Congressmen from prosecution for political speech or action.