As a general rule, Congress isn't the place to seek a medicine for one's melancholy. But this week, I do have some fair-to-middling positive news to report from those sacred precints.
I've often discussed the problems with chemical weapons disposal, including the Army's demented plan to dump hydrolysed VX nerve agent into the Delaware River.
Now, in a bipartisan effort, the House of Representatives has passed a bill with an amendment that would halt the Army's disposal plan. It goes to the Senate next, of course, and I think it stands a good chance of passing. But it wouldn't do any harm to give your senators a call...especially if you live in Pennsylvania, Delaware, or New Jersey.
Note that this is an amendment to a financial authorization bill for the DoD, so the fight in the Senate will be to avoid having it removed; the bill is likely to pass whether the amendment's there or not.
Another bill that deserves support is The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2005 (S.742/H.R. 2562). This bill would make it illegal to put nontherapeutic antibiotics in animal feed.
This is a no-brainer, with support from the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, and more than 350 other organizations.
After scanning the bill, I'd say that if anything, it leaves a few too many loopholes open for irresponsible and unnecessary use of antibiotics. But it's a good start. You can get more information on the costs and dangers of unnecessary antibiotic use here.
Apparently, the House also voted to forbid studies that deliberately expose human volunteers to pesticides. The EPA had ostentatiously stopped a toxicology study on pesticides that used children as guinea-pigs, but reserved the right to conduct similar studies. I haven't seen the details of the House vote yet, so I can't comment. Sounds promising, though.
I continue to feel, as I've argued elsewhere, that issues like these are the key to winning congressional races in '06 and beyond.
Speaking of winning congressional races, I'm very cautiously optmistic about Randall Terry's interest in running against Florida state senator Jim King (R-FL). Whether it's a real plan, or just a crazed warning shot across the bow, it's encouraging:
[S]tate Republicans could be willing to risk alienating voters in a general election to fight for their values, even with a polarizing candidate such as Terry, analysts said.Trouble in paradise, eh? It'll be interesting to see how the amoral, corporatist, GOP greedheads go about re-bottling their flock of fundamentalist djinn. My guess is it may be a bigger job than they bargained for. With a bit of luck, we'll see a battle worthy of the Kilkenny cats.
"We're talking about conservative Christian voters who today are a huge part of the Republican Party base, and King has been willing to say `No' from time to time," said David Niven, a former political science professor at Florida Atlantic University. "King has been willing to say `No' to (Gov.) Jeb Bush and he's been willing to say `No' to the extreme religious voices within the Republican Party. Right now they're not used to hearing that."