Nel's New Day

May 4, 2012

‘Do-Nothing’ House of Representatives Better than Damaging Bills

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:11 PM
Tags: , ,

The House of Representatives is in recess this week—nothing too shocking because they’ve worked in Washington only 41 days of the first 127 days so far this year with eight of those days marked on Rep. Eric Cantor’s calendar as not starting until 6:30 pm. During the 34 weeks until the end of 2012, they plan to be doing the nation’s work, making law and stopping progress, for only 17 weeks. That means a total of 51 more days. Their 92 days when they aren’t recessed comprises one-fourth of the entire year, nice work if you can get it.

What have they actually accomplished in these 41 days? Thus far, they have passed 106 laws, compared to the 908 laws passed by the notorious “Do-Nothing” Congress of 1947-1948. Okay, they do have at least 51 days to get 802 laws to match this Congress.

Of the 195 roll-call votes thus far this year, they have managed 60 pieces of legislation. Among these:

  • The Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act
  • The Sportsman’s Heritage Act
  • The Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act
  • The World War II Memorial Prayer Act
  • The mandate that the Treasury mint coins commemorating the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service

The House also voted overwhelming to award the Congressional Gold Medal to professional golfer Jack Nicklaus, the medal awarded for acts of heroism, especially during war. George Washington was the first recipient. Nicklaus got the medal for promoting excellence and good sportsmanship in golf.

The House also addressed the Polar Bear Trophy issue. The legislation was “to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing and shooting.” Hunters who killed endangered polar bears can now legally bring these trophies into the United States.

Under duress on Republicans, the House managed to pass the payroll-tax break and the debt-limit increase, the only major actions in 41 days.

The benefit of their not creating laws for three-fourths of the time, however, is that the House can do less damage. They did pass the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) which would further take away privacy from people in the United States as well as a $46 billion small business tax cut bill. They also managed to pass the bill keeping federal student loans at 3.4 percent by eliminating $3.2 million for breast and cervical cancer screening for women, immunizations for children, and screening of newborns for congenital heart defects, hearing loss, etc. None of these bills has a chance of surviving a Senate vote or a presidential veto, but the representatives want to look busy.

Republican representatives hold themselves up as following the will of the people. All but five of the 234 Republicans present in the chamber at the time voted down the “Buffett Rule,” which would raise taxes on millionaires despite the nearly three-fourths of people in this country who want these taxes raised so that millionaires don’t pay a lower rate than those who make much less than they do. At the same time more anti-choice bills are wending their way through House committees, not only the Judiciary but also the Energy and Commerce. Those will show up in the 51 days that the House has left to meet this year.

The Senate can also be held up as an example of “do-nothing,” with the majority of the 87 votes on only three bills: highway (25), postal (16), and insider-trading (13). While Republicans sneer at Democrats for their inability to get anything accomplished, however, they neglect one fact. Whereas House Republicans need only a simple majority to pass a bill, the Senate is held to 60 of 100 votes to pass anything because of the Republican filibuster intransigence. Even so, the Senate Democrats have managed to get bills through recently: renewal of the Violence against Women Act, postal reform, a long-term renewal of the surface transportation bill, and one making it easier for companies to go public. Of course, despite passing the last of these, Republicans in the House plan to kill the others by voting against them or attaching damaging amendments to them. Congress remains at its infamous “gridlock.”

The House leadership does spend some of their time being clever. The Sportsman Heritage Act includes this provision: “Pending the adoption of a concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2013, the provisions of House Concurrent Resolution 112, as adopted by the House, shall have force and effect in the House as though Congress has adopted such concurrent resolution.” The House Republicans are trying to convince themselves that the Senate has passed the House budget—without passing the House budget.

With so few bills in evidence, what does the House do in its spare time? One example is HR 2087, “To remove restrictions from a parcel of land situated in the Atlantic District, Accomack County, Virginia.” The House is giving  full floor debates, and therefore full attention, to allowing development on a 32-acre property with five roll-call votes. They call this one of their “jobs” bills.

Where are the jobs bills that the freshmen legislators promised? Where are the infrastructure projects to repair our crumbling country? Where are intelligent ideas to move our economy forward? All these seem to be caught under the determination of Republicans to do nothing—except try to defeat the opposition.

The prior session of Congress, with its Democrat-controlled House and almost-60 Democrats in the Senate, moved toward economic recovery, saved the American auto industry, invested in energy research and infrastructure, somewhat reformed the financial sector, passed a health care act, reinstated equal pay for women, created hate crimes legislation, allowed gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military, and addressed many other critically important issues.  But 112th Congress, with the House controlled by Tea Party extremists, has either performed destructive acts or done nothing.

There are two solutions: the Tea Party leadership in the House of Representatives can realize that government is important to the nation and that it’s their job to solve problems, not create them. When you finish laughing about this solution, think about the other one. Vote them out. With 25 more seats, Democrats can take back the House majority. That, too, may be improbable with the massive amounts of funding from the Koch brothers, Karl Rove, and Dick Armey machines, but it’s more likely than a Grover Norquest sycophant changing its spots.

The Republican House Republicans have developed a bad case of megalomania. As soon as it became apparent that Mitt Romney would be on the ballot this coming November, they made sure that he understood their position, that the House is driving the policy agenda for the entire Republican party. “We’re not a cheerleading squad,” said Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA). “We’re the conductor. We’re supposed to drive the train.” (The man has obviously lost his copy of the Constitution.)

The Ryan plan, which Romney endorsed at one time, cuts education, law enforcement, and health research by 25 percent if programs were permitted to grow with inflation or 21 percent below spending caps agreed to last July by President Obama and Congress, including those recalcitrant House Republicans. But Romney also said he could live with the law that allows women to sue in equal pay cases, opposed by all Republicans.

One of Romney’s priorities, according to one of his earlier statements, is dealing with China’s currency manipulation in the same way as a bill co-sponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Lindsey E. Graham (R-SC) which the Senate passed last year. Now languishing in the House, the bill would require tough tariffs on some Chinese goods, a measure that House Speaker John Boehner has called “dangerous.”

Now Boehner is complaining about President Obama spending his time campaigning instead of running the country. Boehner needs a mirror.

It’s going to be a wild and rocky year—not only between the two parties but almost within the multi-layered GOP.

1 Comment »

  1. bleedin’ idjits!


    Comment by lynchly — May 5, 2012 @ 9:37 PM | Reply

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