The GOP House is back in session today after leaving town last week and has just 16 legislative days scheduled over the next nine weeks. Unfortunately, House Republicans have no plans to get to work and address the priorities of the American people – from jobs and the economy to the Farm Bill to the budget and sequester, the GOP course of action is no action at all. From the Washington Post:
Congress returns this week to face a list of daunting challenges. The House is taking up immigration reform; the farm bill setting the nation’s agricultural policy remains in limbo; battles loom over the budget and the debt ceiling; the sequester cuts continue even though we remain mired in mass unemployment…
…the primary blame for this does not fall on generic “Washington gridlock” or the “inability of both sides to compromise,” as the usual bromides have it. The fault lies mainly with the Congressional GOP.
The current U.S. Congress, facing a backlog of unfinished business and sliding approval ratings, is on pace to clear fewer bills than its predecessor – which had the least number of measures signed into the law since modern record keeping began in the 1940s.
Since the 113th Congress convened in January, the Senate has been in session 80 days and the House 84 days. Lawmakers passed 15 bills that were then signed by the president. That’s eight fewer than in the first six months of the last Congress and 19 fewer than in the same stretch of the 111th Congress.
“The 113th Congress is on track to be even less productive than the historic 112th Congress,” said Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “The problem arises from a Republican House unwilling and unable to engage in the normal process of negotiation and compromise with the president, and their continued willingness to live with a destructive sequester.”
Lawmakers and aides pouring back into the Capitol this week may be tempted to glance at their desk calendars, smack their foreheads and exclaim, “Where did the time go?”
And then, with even more bewilderment, they might wonder, “What have we been doing all year?”…
In the sort of divided government that now exists – the rule rather than the exception for the past four decades – the two sides have always ended up producing more laws in the first six months of each new Congress than they have now.