The headline on the Congress-watching newspaper Politico said it all: “Done.”
The subhead expanded on the assertion, but there wasn’t much to add: “Congress is through legislating for the rest of 2013.” That was mid-November, even before the lawmakers knocked off for a 10-day Thanksgiving recess.
House Speaker John Boehner said the House shouldn’t even remain in session in December. He was joking – we think.
As it is, the House, according to Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s schedule, is to be in session only eight days in December and go home Dec. 13. This is no accident; the schedule was made out in January. The Senate doesn’t have a strict schedule but generally sticks close to the relaxed pace of the House.
The immigration bill is not likely to pass in December, and neither is the farm bill. The 12 appropriations bills that fund the operations of the government and were supposed to have been passed by Sept. 30 haven’t been passed. Meanwhile, Congress will resort to continuing resolutions, as a fancy way, as they say on Capitol Hill, of kicking the can down the road.
Dealing with the “sequester,” the automatic, across-the board budget cuts Congress passed in a vain attempt to galvanize itself into action and the president signed into law, will have to wait until next year; in the meantime, it’s beginning to do real damage to critical government operations such as defense.
The House spent much of the year occupied with pointless trivia and has very little to show for its efforts. Senate Democrats changed the rules to allow the nominees’ approval by 51 votes instead of 60. Thus, the major legislative trophy the Senate will have for the year end is filling three seats on the Washington, D.C. Court of Appeals.
Winston Churchill said democracy was the worst form of government, except for all the others. He was right, of course, but sometimes you can’t help wondering.