AGI GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS MONTHLY RE-VIEWSEPTEMBER 2001Changed Priorities on Capitol Hill
In early September, Congress wasbogged down in partisan bickering on all fronts.The appropriations process was even further be-hind than usual, and efforts to produce compre-hensive energy legislation had slowed in theSenate as gasoline prices fell. Congressionalleaders had abandoned hopes of an early insession until Christmas. The biggest political im-perative was to avoid dipping into the Social Se-curity surplus. It all seems like a long time ago.Having met the immediate needs of thecrisis -- granting war powers, providing $40 bil-lion in emergency funds, and giving recognitionto victims and heroic rescue workers -- Congressat month's end was beginning the process of re-focusing on prior concerns but in an entirely newcontext. As Congress takes up old business, many ofthe old divisions are gradually replacing the extraordi-nary unity that followed September 11th. But the ran-cor is largely gone, holding out hope that reasonablecompromises can be found in order to keep thingsmoving ahead. Typical was the call by Sen. JohnMcCain (R-AZ), reported in Greenwire, to set aside old"habits of partisanship and parochialism" and unify be-hind the president.Although national defense, economic stimulus,and airport security measures are clearly at centerstage, the president has announced that education re-mains a top priority for his administration and that hewants an education bill on his desk in October. TheWhite House is wrangling with congressional appro-priators over final spending numbers for fiscal year(FY) 2002, which began October 1st. The governmentis currently running under a two-week continuing reso-lution at FY 2001 levels. Energy policy is making acomeback based on national security concerns ratherthan consumer demands. More on each of these top-ics follows.
Appropriations End Game
After delays related to the tragic events of Sep-tember 11th and an ever-changing list of priorities,Congress appears poised to steam forward with theappropriation bills. None of the 13 bills were ready forthe president's signature on October 1st, the start ofFY 2002. Despite missing the deadline and running ona continuing resolution, Congress is determined tokeep all the bills separate, instead of the omnibuspackage that has become the norm in recent years.The House and Senate have appointed conferees forseven bills that have passed both chambers. Theyalso have agreed on spending levels for the bills andhave tentative agreement with the White House Officeof Management and Budget (OMB) as well. But themajor sticking point right now between Congress andOMB is whether or not OMB will put the final numbersin writing -- House Democrats are particularly con-cerned about being labeled budget-busters in the elec-tions next year. As soon as the final numbers are re-leased, both the House and the Senate are ready tomove several of the bills swiftly, including three keygeoscience-related bills -- Interior, Energy & Water,and Commerce. More information on appropriations isavailable at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis107/ appropsfy2002.html.happened. The members of the Denver ShowCommittee, with the consent of their parent or-ganization, the Greater Denver Area Gem andMineral Council, decided to donate all proceedsfrom admission receipts to a charity to help thevictims of September 11
. Martin Zinn, organ-izer of the Colorado Fossil Expo, also agreed todonate his share of the admission receipts, andDanny Duke, of the International Gem and Jew-elry Show, provided an additional $1,000 for thefund. As a result of this agreement, $25,637.15from admissions and individual contributions wasdonated to the Liberty Fund of the Red Cross onOctober 11, 2001.The Greater Denver Area Gem and Min-eral Council is a non-profit organization of tenmineral, fossil, gem, lapidary, and bead hobbyclubs in the Denver area. The organizationshave a combined total of 1400 members. Themembers of the Council sponsor and producethe annual Denver Gem and Mineral Show. Pro-ceeds of the show are normally used for dona-tions to education and research in the earth sci-ences and lapidary arts.