Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Republican Congress burns out with a whimper

"There is a lot of battle fatigue among members, probably on both sides of the aisle," said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), usually a reliable conservative firebrand. "Contrary to popular belief, members of Congress are human beings. They have a certain shelf life and a certain amount of energy to be drawn on. We're tired."

I am sorry, but voters don't get to take whole PAID months off just to gaze at the lint in their navels, and to complain about how they lost their jobs. Reading Jonathan Wesman's Washington Post article "Lame Duck Congress May Run Out the Clock" pissed me off incredibly.

Republican Congressmembers who denied Democratic allegations of a Republican "do-nothing" Congress are really only cementing that image, as Congress met for one week in October, and one week in December. Really, they are following quite nicely in the footsteps of their political daddy Dubya, who clearly enjoys clearing brush on his Crawford ranch. A LOT. To the tune of five weeks off, setting records for presidential vacation time. Ask Yahoo calculated that he spent as much as 27% of his time on vacation.

They claim that they can't get work done because they don't have nice posh office space:
Much of the problem is as prosaic as office space, GOP aides said. Lawmakers were forced to vacate their offices on Friday, and few of them want to hang around Washington with no place to sit. Retiring House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) got angry during a meeting of committee chairmen, demanding to know how he was supposed to complete work on the business tax extension bill without an office, according to one GOP aide present in the meeting.

Well, I know people who get work done without having any offices at all. Grad students who have to meet with students in dorm cafeterias or coffeeshops, construction workers who build the office space for corporate muckety-mucks, and teleworkers whose office space is any open air space with a wifi connection. God forbid that Congressman Thomas and his staff actually had to sit on a park bench Or meet in a Starbucks. Most likely, if they're smart, they'll just take over a corner of some expensive restaurant and eat courtesy of a defense contractor or two while reviewing legislation and constituent concerns that won't see the light of day.

That will mean this Congress will have spent the least time in session of any in at least half a century, according to Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, congressional historians and the authors of "The Broken Branch," a critical look at recent Congresses. In the time they have met, lawmakers have failed to approve a budget resolution or pass at least eight of the 11 annual spending bills.

On the other hand, given that so much of the legislation that the 109th Congress has introduced has made life and conditions significantly worse for regular people, the environment, immigrants (remember the Sensenbrenner bills that sparked massive nationwide protests?) perhaps it's better that they are sitting on the their asses, feeling sorry for themselves, or playing golf with lobbyist pals. I'm so sorry that Republican House members sound as though they are depressed, but the rest of the nation that actually, you know, goes to work -- we've been depressed for the twelve years that you've controlled Congress. So enjoy your long, long time off. We're hoping that a brief vacation turns into a permanent hiatus.

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