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Power Lunch

The Next 100 Hours in Congress: What Happens Now?

Democrats made a very big deal about all the bills they passed in the House during the first 100 hours of the new Congress. Their legislation addresses key business issues, such as taxes, energy and the minimum wage. Seems like a lot in a short time, but guess what? The next 100 hours might be even more important. CNBC’s Sue Herera found out why.

During the first 100 hours, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats passed six major bills. They do the following:

Lower interest rates on student loans
Expand stem cell research
Raise the minimum wage
Increase cargo inspections (in the fight against terror)
Change rules dealing with lobbying and budgeting
Restore $15 billion in fees, royalties and taxes on the oil industry.

Of course, none of these items are a done deal. “The first 100 hours will quickly collide with Senate and with White House reality,” explained Ruth Marcus, an Editorial Page Columnist at The Washington Post. “It’s easy to keep the House together and muscle through legislation.  It’s a lot harder to do that in the Senate because there’s more opportunities for procedural blocks and then you have a President who still has a veto pen.”

The Next 100 Hours

The President, however, might find an ally in the Democratic congress, at least on some issues. “I think there’s an irony there, particularly in the area of immigration… I think immigration is a big opportunity,” observed Marcus.

As for the rest of it, word from The Hill is that a compromise will be the best case scenario.  “There are a lot of scenarios where things could simply blow up and not get done." she added.  "Health care is a possibility and I think the rockiest road ahead is going to be the budget which is going to consume a lot.”

Of course, the elephant in the room is Iraq. “You’ve seen how much oxygen Iraq takes up on Capital Hill these days,” said U.S. News and World Report’sChief White House Correspondent, Ken Walsh. “The idea here is that the President wants more money for Iraq, he wants more money for Afghanistan, he wants more money for the surge…. so that’s going to eat up a lot of funding that Democrats were hoping to get for other things.”

“We’ve all been saying for so long now, they have to get Iraq figured out,” added Walsh. It’s just absorbing so much time and attention and dividing people.

Will the Democrats be able to achieve their goals? "If you look at the details of what the Democrats want to do and how they might do it, it's very difficult. The President does have some breathing room, for a few months at least."