- George Zimmerman will not be charged in domestic dispute
- Russian officials press bilateral U.S. trade deal
- Selfies at Funerals blog creator retires after Obama flub: ‘Our work here is done’
- New Obama adviser Podesta is against Keystone but will steer clear of pipeline deliberations
- 40 Australian adults, children found in ‘one of the worst accounts of incest ever made public’
- Venezuela’s Maduro calls on student ‘price vigilantes’ to hit the streets, report businesses
- Atheists smug as Hindus join Satanists to demand display at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Bow before Valkyrie, NASA’s ‘superhero robot’ entry in DARPA challenge
- 10-year-old Pennsylvania boy suspended for pretend bow-and-arrow shooting
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
Work flow slows as House awaits health bill
Question of the Day
The House on Tuesday took up a resolution to honor the 2,560th birthday of Confucius -- and that's pretty much all the floor business Democratic leaders scheduled for the day, as noncontroversial bills fill up the empty hours for lawmakers awaiting health care legislation.
It seemed as if the chamber has taken to heart Confucius' words: "It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop."
Still, the light workload has become routine in recent weeks and is starting to fray nerves.
House Minority Leader John A. Boehner bemoaned the lack of floor activity, saying Democrats would rather "celebrate the birth of an ancient Chinese philosopher" than debate plans for jobs and health care with Republicans.
"It is unacceptable for Congress to take it easy at a time when the nation's unemployment rate is nearing 10 percent and millions of out-of-work families struggling to make ends meet are asking, 'Where are the jobs?' " the Ohio Republican said in a statement.
Democratic leaders said it was worthwhile to spend floor time on easy votes because the heavy lifting was being done on committees and behind closed doors.
"When there are not votes on the floor, there is still a whole lot of other business that has been going on," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat and the special assistant to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "It is important to have members here doing their work."
Tuesday's floor schedule also included a nonbinding procedural vote on an already passed annual appropriations bill for the Interior Department and resolutions that would welcome the Archbishop of Constantinople on his visit to the United States, support the goals of National Adoption Month and call on Iran to release three detained American hikers.
Rep. Al Green, Texas Democrat who sponsored the Confucius resolution, objected to Mr. Boehner singling out his bill for criticism when Republicans offer similar resolutions all the time, including the resolution to welcome the archbishop to the United States.
The Confucius resolution did not get a vote Tuesday. It was scheduled for a voice vote as part of the package of suspension bills, but Republicans requested a roll call vote, which was postponed.
The House is expected to take up more substantial legislation later in the week, including the reauthorization of the Small Business Administration. Still, resolutions for pet causes have dominated recent agendas.
Part of the problem filling the chamber's agenda is a Senate logjam holding up major legislation and most of the 12 annual appropriations bills the fund the government for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said last week that he was frustrated with the slow pace of legislation coming from the Senate.
"We're not going to make work. I'm not going to have people stand here and just twiddle their thumbs," he said. "We're doing a lot of work. It just so happens it's not on the floor."
The Senate on Tuesday broke through one obstacle when senators overwhelmingly voted to take up a bill giving the unemployed extra weeks of benefits. But the episode underscored just how bogged down the Senate has become.
Democrats had sought for weeks to take up the bill, but Republicans objected three times, forcing Democrats to hold an official vote to head off a filibuster. And when Republicans had to vote, their opposition melted away -- 27 of them joined the Democrats in voting to take up the measure, including the party leaders who had been blocking the bill.
"We've seen this repeatedly over the last year," said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Mr. Reid, who said Republicans often times slow walk popular bills but end up voting for them despite making few or no changes.
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders in both chambers gave themselves more time to pass the seven of the must-pass spending bills to fund the government for 2010. The bills are already a month behind schedule, but Democrats said they'll pass a "continuing resolution" to keep the government open until Dec. 18 - the second stop-gap measure this year.
Rep. Jerry Lewis, California Republican, complained, saying that will "literally lift that pressure off" lawmakers to get the rest of the bills done.
The new breathing room for passing appropriations bills likely means the House will see more short agendas that are long on noncontroversial measures.
• Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.
About the Author
Steven A Miller
- Massachusetts 'tossup' threatens Obama agenda
- Weiner blasts health care 'negotiation'
- Democrats chart dim midterm course
- McCain slams court decision
- Kaine: GOP 'civil war' ace in hole
Latest Blog Entries
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
- Rand Paul: Budget deal 'shameful,' 'huge mistake'
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- Teen thugs in D.C. run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Obama's antics at Nelson Mandela tribute: Jovial conversation, handshake with Raul Castro
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whisky: U.K.-born expert
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Study IDs reasons for late-term abortions
- Inside the Ring: China targets Global Hawk drone
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Al Maurer provides a common sense, conservatarian, Constitutional conservative perspective from the battleground state of Colorado
Interviews and show reviews from the Los Angeles punk scene past and present. Los Angeles has always been rich in punk rock talent since punk rock was born.
Buzz on Bees is a column promoting the love and life of God’s greatest pollinators on earth: The Honeybee
Brazen, leading-edge, “call it like it is” columns and reporting from Ohio native, radio host and writer, Sara Marie Brenner.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow