Weighty items on lawmakers' agenda

Capitol Hill

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Health care does seem to have sucked all the air out of Washington the past couple of months. But as Marketplace's Tamara Keith reports, there are still some weighty items still left undone.


TAMARA KEITH: If you're interested in anything else besides health care, just keep telling yourself the following.

STEVE COCHRAN: I actually do think that the Congress is capable of doing more than one thing.

ERIC HALPERIN: Congress has the ability to do two or more things at once.

Those were advocates Steve Cochran at the Environmental Defense Fund and Eric Halperin at the Center for Responsible Lending.

Both hope Congress will find time for their issues: energy legislation and financial reform. Steve Cochran is still sunny on cutting carbon emissions.

COCHRAN: I think the public actually believes this is a good thing to do.

And Eric Halperin says there's bipartisan support for financial reform.

HALPERIN: So I think there's that sense of urgency that we need this in place in order to move forward with the economy.

But Bruce Josten, the chief lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says it's all too ambitious.

BRUCE JOSTEN: By trying to do so much so fast, the public is being lost.

Josten says it's risky to try to pass all this legislation at once.

JOSTEN: What in fact we're talking about here are transformative pieces of legislation.

Whether any of it lands on the president's desk depends on health care, says Norm Ornstein at the American Enterprise Institute.

NORM ORNSTEIN: It's a little bit like a baseball player who gets on a hot streak. You hit a few balls really well, and all of a sudden you believe you can hit them all. And so what happens over the next few weeks will have a lot to do with whether we get a hot streak or a slump.

In Washington, I'm Tamara Keith for Marketplace.

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