By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog
ST. PETERSBURG — In the final days of the lame-duck session of the 112th Congress, when most eyes have averted to the impending realities of the so-called “fiscal cliff,” Florida’s representatives are ramping up their efforts, lending their names to bills and resolutions hoping to receive a swipe of the president’s pen by year’s end.
These bills have been pursued in the weeks since Election Day, giving congressmen only three more weeks to approve legislation before the session ends and new legislation must be drawn up.
- U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent, R-5th District, was able to expedite a bill toeliminate the green card lottery program, which gives permanent residency to immigrants selected by a special drawing.
- U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-23rd District, signed onto bill that would proclaim Jan. 8 as “Elvis Presley Day.”
For lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the subject of cancer is often deliberated, finding its way into two bills sought by a Republican and a Democratic member.
- U.S. Rep. Allen West, a stern Republican representing the 22nd District who rounding out his legislative career after losing to Democrat Patrick Murphyin a closely watched electoral battle, submitted his last bill hoping to designate November 2012 as Stomach Cancer Awareness Month. It remains stuck in committee.
- U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-19th District, introduced a bill just one week after winning re-election to require the labeling of “certain products that do not contain any carcinogens,” understating the important role of the government in preventing cancer
Florida’s two U.S. senators have remained busy in the last month of the session, putting forth symbolic motions and sweeping bills that would create new bureaucracies in Washington, D.C.
- U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, aRepublican, was successful in passing a resolution offering support for a free Internet, one of the many nonbinding bills left on the docket for both the House and Senate.
- Rubio’s colleague, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, offered a bill to create a National Hurricane Research Initiative to better prepare for natural disasters and to better allocate federal funds once those disasters hit.
The only lame-duck bill to receive any popular scrutiny so far is one offered by U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-14th District, pressuring foreign nations to repay private American creditors.
Critics of the bill said it would clearly benefit heavy Mack donor Paul Singer, whose New York City-based hedge fund Elliot Management is owed nearly $2 billion by the nation of Argentina, stemming from its debt default in 2002.
The lame-duck session ends on Jan. 3, 2013, when the 113th Congress is sworn in.