It wasn't that long ago when the President sparked some ire with a speech that contended that--quote--"the Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people." (The senate was under Democratic control at the time.) Many took the statement as a direct slight of Democrats' patriotism (the speech was later ameded to soften the language); at the very least, the President was complaining about Senators, in his view, placing special interests over passage of the Homeland Security bill.
Today Senate Democrats lost a bid to strip out a series of last-minute provisions tacked onto the Homeland Security bill. The President himself--along with key advisers--lobbied undecided senators, contending that the bill would not pass this year if the favors were stripped out.
The most controversial provision would protect pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits over the side effects of vaccines they create. The protections would be retroactive to lawsuits already in court concerning ingredients use din vaccines. Democrats said that among the lawsuits that would be thrown out were those involving claims that mercury-based preservatives used in vaccines cause autism in children.
The bill also includes liability protections for makers of airport screening equipment and airport security firms and weakens an amendment offered by the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., that bars companies that set up offshore tax havens from getting federal homeland security contracts.
• Enact new liability protection for pharmaceutical companies for the vaccines they make.
• Gut a Senate amendment that would prohibit the government from signing contracts with companies that move their headquarters offshore -- where they don't have to pay U.S. taxes.
• Create a homeland security research center program at a U.S. university. Democrats say the legislation is written in such a way as to create the center at Texas A&M University in Texas, home to some powerful GOP lawmakers and Bush.
• Provide liability protection for airport screening companies.
• Provide liability protection for companies that sell anti-terrorism technologies or products.
• Erect barriers to the Transportation Security Agency for the issuance of some security rules for travelers.
• Allow the Department of Homeland Security to hold advisory committee meetings in secret, a move Democrats say is a gift to corporate lobbyists.
I think this situation pretty much speaks for itself. The Republicans have wasted no time in not only asserting themselves but showing where their priorities lie. The delicious contrast with the President's earlier remarks about special interests, of course, is lost only on those with short attention spans or dogmatic blinders.