This Republican Congress: Even More "Do Nothing" Than We Thought

This year the Republican Congress wasn't able to pass legislation overhauling the nation's immigrations laws, privatizing Social Security, substantially reducing the deficit, decreasing the growing number of uninsured or providing any real oversight into the handling of the War in Iraq. So far, they haven't even been able to pass the majority of appropriations bills to keep the government running -- and they aren't likely to until after the election. But luckily, as A.B. Stoddard reports for The Hill, they were able to take the time to rename dozens of post offices.

Post office naming is now the most common form of legislation, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS). An analysis by The Hill shows that in 15 years the two parties have achieved parity in the practice. Of the 267 naming bills passed since the beginning of the 102nd Congress, 133 were sponsored by Democrats and 134 were sponsored by Republicans.


According to a CRS report on post office naming, the 89 such bills passed by the 108th Congress represented one in six public laws, and all but 10 of them originated in the House. In the House bill sponsors are expected to obtain signatures of the entire state delegation. The process, by which the bills are passed under suspension of the rules, has flourished as a universally non-controversial exercise with one recent exception. [emphasis added]

I'm sure it doesn't take a whole heck of a lot of time to pass a resolution naming or renaming a post office, but even still, couldn't and shouldn't members of Congress spend their time a little more wisely? The current Republican Congress is already on track to be in session fewer days than the infamous "Do-Nothing Congress" Harry Truman ran against in 1948, and now we learn that about a sixth of all legislation passed by this Congress related to the naming of a post office.

Stoddard cites Republican Speaker Denny Hastert and House Republican Whip Roy Blunt as opposed to the practice of taking time for the naming of post offices, but if they indeed are they have a funny way of showing it. Under their watch the practice, which was non-existent until 40 years ago and only became more common during the last decade, has proliferated under the watch of the Republicans -- especially Speaker Hastert. This growth provides tangible proof of the "Do Nothingness" and could probably be turned into a fairly effective television commercial before this election is out.

Tags: # 'Broken Promises: The Death of Deliberative Democracy', 'Broken Promises: The Death of Deliberative Democracy', Do Nothing Republicans, House Rules, Louise Slaughter, Post Office Naming Bills, Suspensions (all tags)




 They changed the rules.  They collected more money from lobbyist than ever before.  They yelled at each other an awful lot.  They gave themselves a raise.  They flew all over the world on junkets.  They campaigned day and night.  Oh, you mean they did nothing for the people.  I guess you are right.  Maybe we should get some new ones?

by upperleftedge 2006-09-13 08:16AM | 0 recs
More complicated than just 'do nothing'

The real purpose of the proliferation of post office naming bills and similar legislative dross passed as suspensions is to crowd out floor discussion of important bills.

(Louise Slaughter including a section on the practice (p28ff) in her Broken Promises report (PDF) - well worth a skim.)

Cutting down the number of sitting days has the same purpose.

Despite the tight control of the House floor provided by the regime of special rules, the previous question and similar devices, the GOP majority just doesn't want to leave any gaps for embarrassing freelancing operations.

Having said that, Jonathan's a tad naughty in not mentioning that the Hill piece says that a lot of those sponsoring post office naming bills are Dems.

Why would the minority want to run down the clock? Presumably, because they suppose that taking a trinket like a named post office back home to the natives will yield electoral benefits; and they really don't think extra floor debating time on real issues would improve the quality of legislative output much.

by skeptic06 2006-09-13 11:04AM | 0 recs


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