This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from August 6, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP RAHM EMANUEL, (D) ILLINOIS: We've got our work done. We got a minimum wage to his desk, we got a 9/11 Commission's recommendations to his desk. We got a comprehensive lobbying reform to his desk. All for signature.
REP ADAM PUTNAM, (R) FLORIDA: Our nation was founded on freedom and security, and we've seen an erosion of both of those values for the last seven months, whether it's the explosion in tax increases on every bill that is moving, whether it is on the loss of security on our border that would entitle illegal aliens to receive benefits, and a whole host of other issues that are certainly not in the favor of the American people. On top of that, we've seen unprecedented institutional abuses this week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Well, there you have two very different perceptions of the 110th Congress, what has been done so far before they left for summer vacation. So let us see what our panelists think about the 110th Congress so far.
Some analytical observations from Bill Sammon, Senior White House Correspondent of the Washington Examiner, Mort Kondracke, Executive Editor of Roll Call, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, FOX News contributors all.
Mort, let's do the laundry list first.
MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ROLL CALL: OK. I would say that the Congress gets an "F" for style, and maybe a "C-minus" for substance.
The "F" for style is that they are always fighting. They are always yelling and screaming, and it came to a crescendo as they were leaving town with the House completely out of order. And when they are not doing that, they are beating up on Alberto Gonzales, or they are beating up on the president. They are constantly fighting, and it looks terrible.
On substance, as Rahm Emanuel said, they got a Lobbying Reform Bill, they got a Minimum Wage Bill, both houses have passed various versions of the Children's Health Bill. They are making slow, unsteady progress on energy reform.
They passed, and very few people have pointed this out, although Major Garrett did, a major $43 billion over three year Competitiveness Initiative, doubling the research budgets of the National Science Foundation of the Energy Department, lots of stuff for training science and math teacher, and stuff like that.
That's a real achievement that they ought to be proud of. But it's too bipartisan, I think, for them.
BAIER: So what came out of there? Does that trump the accusations by the Republicans and the White House that they are spending all this time on investigations and not getting anything done?
BILL SAMMON, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: They are getting some things done. But another way to look at this substantively is that they promised to end war in Iraq, and they failed to do that. In fact, Bush escalated the war in Iraq during this Congress's tenure, and the Congress passed funding for the war in Iraq without conditions
So I'm not sure how that is going to play to the liberal base of the Democrats when they go back from recess.
BAIER: The other thing they did was pass a modernization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But it has, Charles, a six month sunset on it, something that the White House really didn't want to see.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: That means it will become an issue early next year, and the Republicans will win again. That is a slam dunk issue for the president. It means if a bad guy in Pakistan is speaking to a bad guy in London, and if the speech or the email happens to go through a router in the U.S., or computer in the U.S., under the old law you'd have to get a warrant, which is absurd.
It was never intended—that kind of thing didn't exist in 1978 when the original law was passed. And it has been fixed, and it will be fixed again.
But on the stuff that the Democrats have been trumpeting, energy and ethics—on the ethics law, if you look at the substance, the main issue is not whether a lobbyist can purchase lunch for a congressman—it's a little harder to do, it's not going to have any effect—the question was on earmarks, which is real corruption, a drain on the budget—nothing of substance happened on earmarks.
And on energy, that is one of the worst bills in the history of this republic. It has got taxes which actually decrease production instead of consumption and regulations, and of course an obsession with ethanol. It's a model of compression, one built with so many bad ideas.
BAIER: So, Mort, we're heading into this appropriations battle as these bills come forward, and it looks like a veto threat for almost all of them.
KONDRACKE: They are not even going to get Appropriations Bills, not a single Appropriations Bill for the fiscal year that starts on October 1 has been passed by both houses. They've all been passed by the House, not a single one by the Senate. And they are going to have to bundle them all together in an omnibus funding bill which the president is going to veto.
I think that he's going to veto it largely for political reasons. The amount of money, the excess funding, as Charles pointed out one day, is piddling by comparison to the size of the federal budget.
I mean, this is all about him trying to re-establish his role as a fiscal conservative at the expense of education programs, and some pork. There's no question that there's pork in a lot of these bills, but the idea that he has suddenly discovered that there's excess spending by the federal government after years, when he let it pass through, when a Republican Congress did it, is ridiculous.
BAIER: So, Bill, crystal ball, and quickly. Do we come to the end of this fiscal year and not have the funding, as we have seen this standoff before?
SAMMON: We could see a government shutdown like we had when Newt Gingrich did it, I forget what year that was. But that got blamed on the Congress. So if that template holds true, the betting is that Bush would come out looking better than the Congress if there was a government shutdown.
So it also would rally the conservative base. So it's a tough one to call.
KONDRACKE: And no call.
KRAUTHAMMER: No shut down.
BAIER: We will leave it there.
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