The Reign of the Czars, at least in the executive branch of the U.S. government, may be near an end. Congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.) offered an amendment that would block funding for the various "czars" — policy advisers appointed by the President who did not have to face formal confirmation by the U.S. Senate, and who cannot be impeached by the House of Representatives. The amendment (to the continuing resolution which keeps the federal government operating) passed the House February 17 by a vote of 249 to 171.
The Obama administration’s $53-billion high-speed rail proposal, which has attracted a host of critics in the midst of a $14 trillion federal debt crisis, has been quickly rejected by at least three Governors in states where rail projects were already on the drawing table.
A bill to protect pregnant women and their unborn children introduced in the South Dakota legislature was set aside, temporarily at least, on February 17 after critics and pro-abortion groups created an uproar claiming it could have legalized the killing of abortionists.
A pre-born infant may not be a legal person under current law, but some New Hampshire legislators want pre-borns who are killed by someone other than their mothers and their mothers' physicians classified as homicide victims. A bill in the New Hampshire House would allow criminal prosecution of persons whose actions result in the death of an "unborn child." It would make the death of the unborn an additional crime in cases where a pregnant woman is assaulted, for example, or is hit by a drunk driver. The bill exempts actions taken by the pregnant woman or her physician, however, so abortions would not be affected. Still, testimony at a public hearing in Concord on February 17 showed the usual division on the abortion issue, with abortion opponents supporting the measure and "pro-choice" advocates fearful of the implications of a bill that describes an "unborn child" as someone between conception and birth.
On February 17, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel, seated in Charleston, South Carolina, dismissed a lawsuit filed by Jose Padilla against Defense Secretary Robert Gates, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and other Bush administration officials for their participation in violating his constitutional rights.