GOP’s Historic Lack of Activity and Long To-Do List

With only 8 remaining legislative days scheduled in 2013, a look at the Republican-led House of Representatives shows a lackluster record with a long list of items left to address. And we’re not the only ones taking note of the Do Nothing GOP:  

Washington Post:

“The bad news is that whatever gets done in December will still be part of a year with record-low congressional accomplishment.”

“From the confirmation of a new Federal Reserve chairman to the expiration of dairy pricing rules, House and Senate leaders head into the final month of 2013 with a checklist that is short but critical. But even a final burst of activity would do little to change the historic arc of this calendar year under the Capitol dome.”

“According to congressional records, there have been fewer than 60 public laws enacted in the first 11 months of this year, so below the previous low in legislative output that officials have already declared this first session of the 113th Congress the least productive ever. In 1995, when the newly empowered GOP congressional majority confronted the Clinton administration, 88 laws were enacted, the record low in the post-World War II era.”

Wall Street Journal:

“Congress is heading into the final stretch of its legislative session with a pile of year-end policy decisions before it and little time to address them.”

“Lawmakers are struggling to negotiate deals on farm programs and food stamps, and on the budget for a fiscal year that began two months ago. Many want to pass new Iran sanctions, stave off a cut to doctors' Medicare payments and revisit policy on unemployment benefits.”

“The window for joint congressional action is narrow. The House returns from Thanksgiving recess Monday, while the Senate reconvenes Dec. 9. If the House adjourns for the year as planned on Dec. 13, the two chambers will be in session simultaneously for only one week in December.”

“The year's final month caps a legislative session that has been long on partisanship, indecision and brinkmanship, and short on compromise and lawmaking. Congress has enacted only 52 new laws this year. At that pace, lawmakers would fall far short of the 284 laws enacted by the prior Congress from early 2011 to early 2013, according to the website GovTrack, which follows legislation. That itself was a significant drop-off from earlier sessions.”

“Lawmakers have spent relatively little time in Washington this year. The House has been in session for 143 days so far, the Senate for 142. In 2011, the House met for 175 days and the Senate for 170.”

“Also at month's end, emergency benefits for the long-term unemployed expire. Democrats have pushed to continue the program of extended benefits for an additional year, arguing that while the 7.3% jobless rate logged in October is down from a high of 10% in October 2009, it is still high by historical standards. But a one-year extension would cost roughly $25 billion, and Republicans have historically resisted its continuation.”

“Congress's to-do list also includes passing a new five-year farm bill to replace legislation that has already lapsed. But lawmakers are divided over how to move away from a system of direct payments to farmers and how deeply to reduce spending on nutrition programs, known as food stamps.”

National Journal:

“The House returns to session on Monday with just seven more days on the legislative schedule this year and time running out on a budget deal, a farm-bill reauthorization, and a long list of other items requiring action by year's end.”

“Major unresolved topics include how to fund government beyond Jan. 15, how far reforms to National Security Agency surveillance should go, and whether to extend emergency unemployment insurance for 1.3 million Americans.”

“Despite the crunch, floor activity in the chamber is limited, and the Republican focus on the Affordable Care Act in committees won't be disrupted. A vote on a bill to rein in abusive patent-litigation and another to address regulation on small private-equity funds are among the only roll-call votes anticipated.”

Huffington Post:

“The House is only scheduled to work eight days between now and January 7, when members return for the second session of the 113th Congress.”

“The House had 239 days off scheduled during 2013, and they have even more off days scheduled for next year.”

“The 2014 calendar for the House, released in October by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), shows members will only work only 113 days. That's down from 2013, when House lawmakers were scheduled to meet for 126 days. Only 107 days were scheduled in 2012.”

The Hill:

“The House could act on a flurry of bipartisan deals when it returns in December for the final two legislative weeks of 2013. Or, it could head home for the holidays emptyhanded.”

“Negotiators are trying to finish House-Senate conference reports on the budget, a farm bill and a water projects bill before the end of the year. Aides say there is a slim chance that all three could be done in time for the House to vote in 2013, but a likelier scenario is one or two of them will be punted into next year.”