Only half of Congress is ‘do nothing’

‘This Congress, they are accustomed to doing nothing, and they’re comfortable with doing nothing, and they keep on doing nothing,” President Barack Obama opined at a Sept. 15 Democratic National Committee gathering in a private Washington residence.

Now that his “Blame Bush” hobbyhorse can’t go any farther, Obama blames America’s woes on the “do-nothing Congress.” He speaks as if the entire Congress were in lockstep Republican opposition to his every initiative. Damn those pesky elephants!

But Congress actually consists of a do-something House of Representatives, run by Republicans, and a do-nothing Senate controlled by Obama’s own Democrats. The 112th Congress has been characterized by a very active legislative pace in the Republican House, featuring the passage of many measures designed to revive America’s exhausted economy.

The Democratic Senate, meanwhile, is a much lazier place where far less gets done and House Republicans’ measures go to die. The figures bear this out, beyond debate.

Through Sept. 15, the Republican House this year has been in session for 120 days. In contrast, the Democratic Senate through the same date was in session just 115 days. Through Sept. 15, the GOP House had voted 711 times. Meanwhile, across the same period, the Democratic Senate placed only 137 recorded votes.

This distinction might discredit House Republicans if they wasted their time voting on National Apricot Yogurt Month and similar matters of national urgency. In fact, Republicans have approved serious legislation designed to get America moving.

“Our new majority has passed more than a dozen pro-growth measures designed to address the jobs crisis,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., wrote Obama on Sept. 6. “Aside from repeal of the 1099 reporting requirement in the health care law, however, none of the jobs measures passed by the House to date have been taken up by the Democrat-controlled Senate.”

These have included bills to reduce anti-business regulations, accelerate offshore oil production and speed the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry Canadian oil to refineries in Texas. This alone would create 20,000 jobs.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid seems to be in no rush to consider Obama’s American Jobs Act, even though Obama wants it enacted “right now!”

“We’ve got to get rid of some issues first,” Reid said. For now, he is not sure “exactly what I’m going to do yet with the president’s jobs bill,” especially since some of Reid’s own Democrats, such as Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu and Virginia’s Jim Webb, seem ho-hum about Obama’s $447 billion Stimulus Jr.

While House Republicans adopted a budget last April 15, the Democratic Senate has not approved a budget since April 29, 2009. This Democratic inaction seems to violate the U.S. Congressional Budget Act, which requires passage of an annual budget resolution. Indeed, the Senate rejected Obama’s budget in May by 97-0 — with every  Democrat in the chamber voting nay.

Obama can disagree with every piece of paper passed by the GOP House. But when he bashes Republicans by accusing “the Congress” of “doing nothing,” that simply is not true. If Obama wants the entire Congress to “do something,” he should tell Harry Reid to do his job.

Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

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