Good news, Independent Voters of America — Congress is back to work in Washington D.C. this week after another (five week long) vacation! Or as Scott Wong of Politico phrased it — “Lawmakers get back to doing nothing.”
“With the convention pomp and pageantry over, another production now begins on Capitol Hill — this one featuring meaningless show votes and theatrical hearings… House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) will hold an oversight hearing this week titled: The Obama Administration’s Abuse of Power. House GOP leaders will try to pass a bill to roll back automatic defense cuts — a bid to undo a law many of them supported in the first place… And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will continue to push a central plank of the Romney-Ryan campaign: a vote to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law. Democrats will engage in the game, too, putting up jobs bills that have no Republican support and little chance of passing.”
With pressing issues like the unfinished Farm Bill in the face of this summer’s awful drought, the looming “fiscal cliff,” a possible further downgrade of the country’s credit rating, and figuring out what to do about the Bush era tax cuts, one would expect Congress would finally want to… do something now that they’re back in the Capitol… right? One would think that Obama might have called up John Boehner for a preliminary chat, or that Harry Reid and Boehner might be beginning talks to reach a deficit deal and avoid a repeat of the ‘debt ceiling debacle of 2011?’ No. Not in an election year when there are politics to be played, reported Jake Sherman and John Allen earlier this week:
“Boehner and Reid haven’t had any recent talks about the fiscal cliff. The last time they spoke in person was in June, when they negotiated a deal on the highway bill, according to an aide. The pending budget cuts, known as “sequestration,” weren’t on the agenda, and neither were the expiring tax cuts. Likewise, Obama and Boehner haven’t huddled since May 16, when congressional leadership snacked on Taylor Gourmet sandwiches at the White House.”
Here’s a reality check: in place of getting actually getting anything done before November 6, 2012, we can instead expect our elected officials in Washington D.C. to try and hold onto their jobs for two, four, or six more years, and in any way they know how. In fact, The Hill reported that lawmakers may only be in D.C. through the end of next week before they leave to get an early start on the campaign trail. So with just one week left before lawmakers recess and don’t return until the “lame duck” session, it’s not realistic to expect our 112th Congress to get anything done. And just imagine if after November 6, if Obama is reelected and the Republican House holds onto a majority? Old wounds might be temporarily patched up, but gridlock and inaction will most likely continue to rule the day, and sadly, there’s so much more that the 112th (and future 113th) Congress have to take care of, reports the Washington Post:
“Other pressing issues for the lame-duck session include averting an almost 30 percent cut in doctors’ Medicare fees, the food and farm bill, passing the annual Pentagon policy bill, a Russia free-trade bill and legislation to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service, which is losing $25 million a day. Congressional inaction would mean that the Postal Service would default on a $5.5 billion payment into its pension fund that’s due at the end of the month.”
Unfortunately, the lack of Congressional action so far this week on all of the above issues has signaled that both Congress and our President are more concerned with their own job security than responsibility the job itself, governing. As an independent voter in November, remember to hold your own elected officials responsible and accountable for the gridlock and lack of action in Washington D.C. Keep them in or vote them out, but either way, make your own voice heard.