Members of Congress are steaming toward their August recess after passing a series of bills funding the government. Among those was an energy bill that would substantially expand the use of corn-based ethanol in gasoline. Lawmakers, unable to agree on an energy policy after a month of wrangling, broke a deadlock by resurrecting last year's energy bill.
Those sorts of compromises often are borne out of political frustration. And that's the case on another front, where judicial backbiting has pushed an environmental and commercial issue into the political arena.
There is another roadblock this week in the decade-long debate over how the Army Corps of Engineers manages the flow of the Missouri River. Senator Max Baucus is holding up President Bush's nomination of John Woodley to oversee the Corps.
The Montana Democrat said he wants Woodley to guarantee that he will make changes that are fair to upstream states, stating the Corps has unfairly favored the needs of barge and farming interests downstream. Baucus wants enough water in Montana's Fort Peck Lake and other reservoirs on the river's upper stretches when the Corps decides on a plan for operating Missouri River dams.
Levels on the Missouri are the subject of a temporarily suspended court dispute regarding the Endangered Species Act. States located upriver want the water flow reduced to benefit fish and wildlife. States downriver want the flow increased to accommodate barge shipping.
President Bush nominated Woodley in January to be the assistant Army secretary for civil works. The Senate Armed Services and Environment and Public Works committees have approved his nomination, but Baucus' hold delays final confirmation indefinitely under Senate rules.