Congress is Back … Congress is BACK!!!! YAY!!! That means things will finally be getting done, laws will be passed, a Supreme Court Justice will be confirmed … Right? Um … right? Um … no. If they didn’t do anything for weeks, months, two years at least, before the seven-week break, why should we expect them to do anything now? Especially with exactly nine weeks until, by my estimation, about one-third of them lose their jobs and hopefully have to go peddle burgers at McDonald’s for a living. Oh, and by the way, they have another month-long break coming up in October, just in case you were worried that they might get tired from sitting around on their fat butts throughout September!
So, what are the top five issues that our illustrious Congressmen & Congresswomen were unable, with their full plates, to get ‘round to last term?
- Funding Zika Vaccines – After the Senate failed twice to move and vote on a $1.1 billion Zika funding bill prior to their summer recess, the chamber will try once again to take it up on their first day back from recess. Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has set up an evening vote on Tuesday to overcome cloture, a procedural hurdle, which would effectively end floor debate and move the bill for a final vote.
- Tackling Appropriations – Ever since the GOP gained control of Congress in 2014 Republican leadership has promised to send President Obama a dozen appropriation bills. Partisan bickering, however, has prevented them from sending even one to the president’s desk. September 30 marks the end of the 2016 fiscal year and just happens to be the last day before House members are scheduled to start their month-long fall recess. The Senate’s recess starts a week later.
- Appointing a Supreme Court Nominee – Five months after President Obama nominated him for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland is still waiting for his Senate hearing. Members of the Senate GOP leadership have refused to give Garland a hearing, citing that the next president should fill the spot vacated by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
- Impeaching IRS Commissioner – Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus will continue their push to impeach Internal Revenue Services Commissioner John Koskinen, a fight that started over a year ago. Rep. John Fleming, R-Louisiana, and Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, filed a resolution to force a vote of impeachment before recess on the grounds that Koskinen intentionally lied about details surrounding the 2010 IRS scandal that targeted Tea Party organizations.
- Finally Addressing Gun Control? – House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., piqued interest among Republican and Democrats alike when he announced that his chamber would vote on a counterterrorism bill before Congress left for recess. The bill included a provision that would prevent suspected terrorists from buying guns. But the Dallas police ambush and push-back from the conservative House Freedom Caucus has delayed voting on the measure until after members come back in September.
Note that these are not necessarily my idea of the top five priorities, although I strongly agree with all except #4. I could create a list of 20 items that need to be dealt with, but if they do these five, I will eat my hat! My best guess is that when they begin their “election recess” at the end of this month, none of the above will have been accomplished. If they do anything … anything at all … it will probably be to change the names of some streets or rail stations in their home states, or perhaps they will propose legislation to repeal ACA (Obamacare) for the 63rd or so time … I have lost count. So, welcome back, Congress. I truly hope you guys and gals do not work too hard in these twenty days and perhaps break a fingernail, work up a sweat, or something. Oh, and by the way … the upcoming election? I hope every damn one of you lose your jobs! I am tired of paying you for sitting on your fat patooties on MY dime!