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Futility Index: House Republicans sputter toward one of the worst years on record
Senate has amassed the second most sluggish legislative record
Question of the Day
This year, those figures are all lower — 380 hours in session, 4,178 pages of material in the Congressional Record and 11 bills enacted into law.
Even floor votes are down substantially, from 491 in 2011 to 449 last year, to 303 this year.
Some analysts cheered the lack of action all around, saying they felt better knowing Congress was accomplishing little.
“I’m pretty confident the republic would be significantly more secure if no member of Congress ever voted again, on anything, ever,” said Michael McKenna, a Republican strategist. “The idea that ‘votes’ get conflated with ‘productivity’ is ridiculous.”
He said that is a lesson House Republicans seem to have learned over the previous two years, when they passed bills to cut spending, force more development of energy and cut taxes, only to have them stall in the divided Senate.
“There’s a general sense now, and has been for some time, that there’s zero point in the Republican majority in the House beating their heads to send legislation over to the Senate that’s just going to die,” Mr. McKenna said. “It makes a lot more sense for the Senate to hash out whatever differences it has and then the House to figure out what it’s working with.”
An aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, defended the chamber’s record, pointing to a bill to tie student loans to Treasury notes, which the House passed. The Senate has been unable to pass anything on the subject, which led to loan rates doubling from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1.
The Cantor aide also laid out the July schedule, which includes another vote to delay part of Mr. Obama’s health care law, bills dealing with education, and a measure to boost border security.
Still, the list of issues awaiting House action continues to grow.
Last month, the Senate sent over its broad immigration bill, which passed on a 68-32 vote. Earlier this year, the Senate completed work on its version of the farm bill, and also passed a bill dealing with states’ ability to impose sales taxes on Internet purchases.
But the House failed to pass its version of the farm bill after Republicans approved an amendment making the legislation more conservative, chasing away Democratic support but still failing to win over enough GOP lawmakers.
“I guess I feel sorry for the speaker,” Mr. Reid said.
Still, Mr. Reid’s chamber is worse than the House in comparison.
The Senate has amassed the second most sluggish legislative record, trailing only the futility of 2011 when the chamber posted its lowest score, by far.
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About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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