Immigration reform is one of the few issues transcending party lines in the beltway these days. Late this week, democrats approved a $2.9 trillion budget plan promising significant spending increases in education and health care.
The nonbinding measure for the budget year beginning October 1 does not go to the president's desk. Instead, it sets priorities for Congress to follow when drafting tax and spending legislation later this year.
President Bush did weigh in on a key issue this week though directing federal agencies to design regulations by 2008 that would reduce gasoline consumption and cut greenhouse emissions.
The new guidelines are part of a response to an April Supreme Court ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency does have the authority to regulate tailpipe emissions and other greenhouse gases. They also are also of the Bush administration's goal to cut U.S. gasoline use by 20 percent over the next decade.
The announcement from the White House came as the national average cost of a gallon of gas passed three dollars and ten cents. However, higher prices appear to have little affect on the nations driving habits.
Quoting Labor Department statistics, two consumer groups testifying before congress this week stated the average American household is already spending $1,000 more on gasoline than it did a year ago. The Consumer Federation of America and the Consumers Union also said that rural households spend about 20% more on gas than urban residents. Nevertheless the U.S. Census Bureau says the number of workers with commutes lasting longer than 60 minutes grew by 50% between 1990 and 2000.
Bush said the directive to agencies to form new regulations was not a substitute for legislation. In arguments before the court last year, lawyers for the EPA said that new regulations could hurt the U.S. because 85% of the economy is tied to greenhouse emissions.