The Senate on December 13 passed a mammoth omnibus spending bill variously described as costing $447 billion or $1.1 trillion, depending on whether "mandatory" spending for programs such as Medicare and Social Security were included in the tabulation. The Senate vote completed congressional action, sending the legislation to the President for his signature. Dozens of federal agencies received average budget increases of 10 percent.
“The Bush administration constructed a legal framework for torture, but the Obama administration is constructing a legal framework for impunity,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a post originally published on the leftist DailyKos blogsite.
According to the Associated Press, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg “railed against gun violence” on December 11, one day after a street peddler died in a shootout with police in Times Square. Unfortunately, this type of crime is increasingly typical in high-crime areas of major U.S. cities, especially where gun control laws make it extremely difficult for law-abiding citizens to possess a gun. Yet Bloomberg, the founder the anti-gun group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, viewed the shootout as evidence that there are "too many guns on the streets."
The House of Representatives passed a bill on December 10 that would allow the government of the District of Columbia to use public funds to pay for abortions and also allow the city government to legalize the medical use of marijuana. If enacted into law, this legislation would move the District closer to exercising the same sorts of sovereign powers as state governments, with profound long-term structural implications for our federal system.