WASHINGTON -- The 107th Congress has delivered a giant new agency to intensify anti-terror efforts, deep tax cuts and revamped corporate ethics and campaign spending laws.
Equally noteworthy, however, are issues lawmakers left unaddressed. National energy policy, patients' rights, prescription drugs, tighter bankruptcy laws and drought aid for farmers fell victim to partisan deadlock.
Even a flagship accomplishment -- the melding of nearly two dozen agencies into a new Homeland Security Department -- was tainted by a failure to provide extra money that President Bush and lawmakers want. That was thanks to a budget stalemate between Bush and Congress that has blocked completion of all 11 domestic spending bills for the fiscal year that started Oct. 1.
Both parties sidestepped other problems for fear of angering voters with unpopular steps like higher taxes or cuts in spending and benefits. Lingering issues include reborn federal deficits and the long-term solvency of Social Security and Medicare, which in several years will face hordes of retiring baby boomers.
"It's been a remarkable two years," said outgoing Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. "There were clearly disappointments as well."
Republicans ran the House during the 107th's two-year session, while Democrats controlled the Senate since June 2001. That produced gridlock, especially in the months before the Nov. 5 congressional elections. Each party blamed the other for obstruction, but leaders agreed more could have been accomplished.
"There's no use trying to fix blame, but the fact of the matter is a lot of important things that needed to be done were not done," Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said Wednesday.
The Senate completed business for the year Wednesday when majority Democrats honored retiring Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., by letting him gavel the chamber into adjournment. His 47 years in the Senate are more than anyone else in the chamber's history.
"It's over," Thurmond, 99, said after banging the gavel to a standing ovation from aides and a handful of colleagues.
Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, left less ceremoniously, expelled in July for taking bribes and kickbacks. Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., perished in a plane crash last month.
The House meets Friday with just a handful of members. It is expected to give final legislative approval to the homeland security bill, a vote required for technical reasons that will carry little suspense.
The 107th saw the world around it change, often for the worse.
A robust economy went feeble. Record federal surpluses faded into shortfalls. Terrorists killed nearly 3,000 in Washington and New York on Sept. 11, 2001. And lawmakers headed for home this week with the country tilting toward war with Iraq.
The Capitol was evacuated the day of the attacks; anthrax-tainted letters were delivered to Daschle's office a month later. Work was disrupted and Congress felt a sense of vulnerability that has yet to fade.
Lawmakers responded to Sept. 11 by producing a $40 billion package for defense, counterterrorism and rebuilding New York and the Pentagon. They also approved the use of force by Bush against terrorists, new federal powers for spying and investigating terrorism at home, and billions in loans and grants for financially ailing airlines.
Even as partisan rancor returned this year, a fresh $28.9 billion anti-terror package was enacted along with a record $355 billion defense measure, bills creating federal terrorism insurance and anti-bioterrorism programs, and a resolution backing military action by Bush against Iraq.
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