Want to know what a worthless Congress looks like…here’s a post from the Weekly Standard:
Congress expected to do little in time it has left
During a recent press conference, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid joked with reporters that his biggest goal for September was to see the Washington Nationals win a pennant.
Everybody laughed, but Reid, D-Nev., was making a less-than-funny point: The Senate will accomplish very little in the time it has left even though the government is heading over a “fiscal cliff” that will lead to an increase in everyone’s taxes and a $1.2 trillion cut in federal spending.
A little more than 100 days from one of the most pivotal elections in years, Congress’s top priority has been politics. The Republican-run House and Democratic Senate have all but abandoned any real effort to address a historically huge pile of bills in need of their attention, leaving until after the election some of the most critical financial issues facing the nation.
Both chambers will adjourn this week, meeting again only briefly in mid-September before leaving town to campaign full time ahead of elections that will decide who will control the White House and Senate next year.
“Intense partisanship and polarization have virtually frozen Congress in place,” Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political science professor, told The Washington Examiner. “In some years past, Congress could still be productive halfway through the election year, and there are even cases of major legislation passing in the fall of an election year. Those days appear to be gone forever.”
Virtually all of the legislation the House and Senate have taken up in recent weeks was about political advantage for one party or the other. None of it was expected to be made into law.
The Senate last week approved Democratic legislation that would extend Bush-era tax cuts only to households earning less than $250,000 a year. The House this week will take up a Republican bill that extends those tax breaks to everyone. Democrats will tell voters they were trying to help the middle class. Republicans will claim to have been helping small-business owners. Neither bill will make it to President Obama’s desk.
“The stakes are so high for both parties that they would rather have voters angry at Congress for inaction than run the risk of alienating one side or the other,” said Republican political strategist Ron Bonjean, a former leadership aide in both the House and Senate.
If lawmakers are going to extend tax cuts before they expire at year’s end, they’ll do it in a lame duck session following the Nov. 6-elections. That’s also when they’ll look for a way to avoid looming spending cuts that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner warned could send the economy into a tailspin. Lawmakers are nowhere near striking a deal on either issue.
And those are not the only remaining bits of critical business left unfinished.
Congress has yet to pass spending bills that comprise next year’s budget, which means the government is poised to run out of money at the end of September unless a deal is struck. Reid said he’s trying to work out a compromise with House Republicans that can pass before both chambers leave for the campaign trail.
More likely, aides said, the two sides will only be able to agree on some temporary measure that prevents the government from shutting down but requires them to take up the issue again next year.