Remember that clause in the Constitution that gives the federal government the authority to regulate school bake sales? Even if you don’t, Congress does. The House of Representatives just passed a $4.5 billion bill that, among other things, authorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set nutrition guidelines for all foods sold in a school building during school hours — and that includes “bake sales and pizza fundraisers,” according to CalorieLab.com. (If pressed, elected officials would undoubtedly note that such sales can affect interstate commerce since students buying cupcakes at school would no longer be buying them from Hostess, thus providing an opening for Congress to regulate these activities.)
Given the quantity of items planned for this year’s lame-duck session, it is imperative to keep up with the items addressed in the final month of the 111th Congress on a regular basis. Here is a quick analysis of what the lame-duck session has covered thus far, and what is on the agenda for today.
Because of President Barack Obama's veto power, it is very unlikely that Congress could successfully repeal ObamaCare for at least another two years. However, there are substantive things that can be done to prevent ObamaCare’s implementation, such as state nullification of the legislation and congressional defunding of its provisions. There are also symbolic things — things that might pass one or both houses of Congress but, if they do pass both houses, will almost certainly be vetoed by Obama. One of the symbolic measures being considered by Republicans is the use of a 1996 law that gives Congress the power to overrule regulations issued by executive branch agencies.
With one month left until the end of the year, Congress has quite a bit with which to contend. Ranging from the unemployed, “wealthy,” and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” to illegal immigration, lame-duck lawmakers intend to make difficult decisions in the ensuing weeks.
The times, they are a-changin’. Unthinkable only a year or two ago, the prospect that Congressman Ron Paul may actually receive the long-deserved chairmanship of a House subcommittee grows brighter by the day. And Paul’s longtime nemesis, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, may soon find his chief congressional detractor in a position to do a good deal more than mere finger-wagging.