Don’t cry for the Shark Conservation Act, America. Don’t mourn the National Pain Care Policy Act, or the Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Amendments, or any of the nearly 300 bills that have passed the House this Congress only to be buried in some Senate committee.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office provided a list of such bills to The Hill this week. Amazingly, America continues to be great without the Solar Technology Roadmap Act — but just barely.
Measures renaming no fewer than 14 post offices, three national parks, two outpatient clinics and six courthouses languish in the Senate after passing the House during this Congress. Majority House Democrats are quite upset that their efforts to rename the Ocmulgee National Monument and build a vehicle maintenance facility for the Smithsonian have gone for naught. In mid-December, Politico reported their unusually sharp barbs for their Senate counterparts.
“If you just take a look at the number of bills we’ve sent to the Senate and what they’ve done, I don’t know what they’re doing with their time, honestly,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, said.
“They don’t seem to understand that those of us that go out there every two years stay in touch with the American people,” said House Majority Whip James Clyburn.
Rep. Tom Periello, D-Va., actually used the word “dithering” to describe the Senate’s inaction.
OK, yes, there are far more important bills in limbo than the Central Texas Water Recycling Act, but they tend to be more controversial, too. Senate Democrats don’t need to go losing elections by voting for meaningful legislation, such as
The Hill reported that this year’s might be the longest list of unfinished House business in congressional history. Pelosi, putting as good a face on this as possible, blames the Republicans. Don’t you remember back in December when the GOP spent two weeks filibustering the Pisgah National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act? (You don’t?)
Unfortunately, Republicans cannot take credit for blocking most of the 290 bills. And credit can’t go to Senate Democrats, inexplicably incapable of exploiting the 60-vote majority they enjoyed for some nine months. These bills have been bottled up by President Barack Obama, who’s so obsessed with passing a health reform bill that the Senate and its committees have had little time for anything else since the August recess.
And expect more Senate “dithering” because Obama still hasn’t given up.
If this Congress is dysfunctional, it’s because the Obama administration has made it so. It’s not just that he’s forcing his own Democratic members to walk the plank with health care votes that portend electoral oblivion. His single-minded focus on an unpopular health care bill has neutered the entire institution.
He has further humiliated the Senate by repeatedly serving up unvetted, unworthy nominees for its consideration — people who failed to pay federal taxes, who abused positions of public trust and who lied to Congress in their confirmation hearings. Some of them, like Erroll Southers and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, had the decency to withdraw. Others, like Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, were confirmed anyway and have gone on to embarrass those that voted for them.
This provides backhanded proof that there are worse things than a broken and inactive Congress. America can endure and flourish, even without the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program Reauthorization Act and the Law Student Clinic Participation Act. And it can especially thrive without the more-substantive meddling in which this Congress would like to engage.
Examiner columnist David Freddoso is an editorial staff writer.