Pacific American-News Journal
Kepakemapa - September 1996 Volume 2 Issue 9
Notes from Capitol
With only eight full weeks to the November 5th presidential
election, election year politics will remain business as
usual as the Congressional votes will fall along party
lines. Even with all the sparks that flew during the past year,
look for more fireworks during the finale of the 104th Congress
as the members play party politics to bolster their respective
Presidential and Congressional candidates.
Ironically, while it seemed impossible to escape the
persistent political grappling and gridlock of the 104th, this
Congress definitely received high marks for at least its
productivity - productivity - productivity achieved through
bipartisan cooperation. Congress has cleared legislation
overhauling welfare, minimum wage, telecommunication and
agriculture as well as increasing minimum wage. Neither party was
able to outright win its crusade; however, both parties settled
on incremental changes.
In a stunning move, President Clinton signed legislation
replacing six decades of federal welfare policy with a new
reliance on the states. During the past year, Clinton twice
vetoed Republican Welfare plans as too harsh, more likely to hurt
children than to help welfare recipients get jobs. This new law
gives states broad authority over their own welfare programs,
though recipients are required to work within two years and are
limited to five years of benefits. The measure is expected to
save $54.1 billion through fiscal 2002, mainly by cutting by the
food stamp program and denying a variety of federal benefits to
On a bi-partisan initiative, President Clinton agreed to sign
the Health Insurance Law. This new law allows workers to maintain
their insurance coverage if they lose or leave their jobs. The
measure will also set up a pilot program for medical savings
accounts, increase the deductibility of health insurance for the
self-employed and provide tax breaks to increase the use of
long-term care insurance. Look for both parties to take credit as
this was a popular move with the public.
What may end up as the Democrat's greatest victory when the
104th Congress closes, in the passage of the minimum wage law.
The $4.25 mandatory minimum and not seen an increase since 1991,
and its value was nearing a 40 year low in inflation-adjusted
dollars. The overwhelming public support for the increase
combined with relentless Democratic pressure wore down the
Republican Congress. The law now raises the minimum was to $4.75
an hour on October 1, 1996 and again to $5.15 on September 1,
Brought about by the potential ruling of the Hawaiian Supreme
Court which could force all states to recognize same-sex
marriages, Congress was stirred into an unusual proactive action.
Despite the partisan nature of the debate, President Clinton said
he would sign the bill. The House overwhelmingly passed the bill
in July that would bar federal recognition of gay marriages
legally performed in other state. The second section of the bill
would define marriage I federal law as a union between a man and
a woman. Watch out for the Senate debate sometime in September
but do not be surprised if it passes quickly.
Agriculture Appropriations Conference Report Supports
Hawaiian Center for Applied Aquaculture.
Sen Thad Cochran (R-MS), Chairman of the Senate Agriculture
Appropriations Subcommittee in has urged the U.S. Dept. Of
Agriculture to favorable consider the establishment of a complete
Aquaculture research and precommercialization facility in Hawaii.
In a colloquy that accompanied the Senate adoption of the
Conference Report accompanying the Fiscal Year 1997 Agricultural
Appropriations bill, Sen. Inouye (D-HI) explained that the Center
for applied Aquaculture, established in 1988, needed satellite
demonstration, quarantine and hatchery facilities on neighboring
islands together with the core research facility.
If you have any questions or interests in a particular
legislation, feel free to send in your inquiry to Hale Pai.
Ethan S.K.K. Cooper, Esq., is a Legislative Assistant to Rep.
Thomas M. Foglietta (D-PA).
Send mail to email@example.com
with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 1996 Hale Pai Pacific American-News Journal
Last modified: February 28, 1998
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