Congress and the Nation

9781452270340-bookcoverChapter 6: Transportation, Commerce, and Communications

Transportation and communication issues were recurring themes in national debates during President Barack Obama’s first term, but legislative efforts had inconsistent results as the White House and Congress primarily searched for ways to help Americans cope with a deepening recession and tussled over how to rein in the federal budget and tamp down a growing deficit. Obama saw infrastructure and highway projects as an avenue for job creation, and they became one of the cornerstones of a $787 billion economic stimulus package (HR 1—PL 111-5) that Democratic leaders rushed through Congress in the opening of the 111th session. Lawmakers and administration officials also offered the struggling automobile industry—to which President George W. Bush had granted financial assistance just before departing office—additional relief through a short-term auto trade-in program dubbed “cash for …

Chapter 12: Labor and Pensions

President Obama entered office in 2009 amid a deep economic recession and immediately sought ways to provide relief for millions of unemployed workers, create new jobs, and launch retraining efforts. Those priorities became the underpinnings of the economic stimulus law that he and Democratic leaders ushered through Congress early that year. The stimulus law, signed on the heels of passage of a long-sought measure aimed at helping workers sue employers for wage discrimination, provided hope to labor unions—a traditional constituency of Democrats—that the party then controlling both the executive and legislative branches could move forward on a range of other priorities. But Democrats’ success on subsequent initiatives was more limited than labor had hoped because Congress faced continuing pressure to rein in the federal spending; Republicans, who took control of the House in …

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Written by Christina L. Lyons, copyright 2015 CQ Press, an Imprint of SAGE Publications, Inc.