Congress Takes a Break from Doing Nothing

Posted on August 8, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

By Carl Chancellor

congress.vacationWhile federal lawmakers officially left Washington on Monday to begin their five week recess, it could be argued that the 113th Congress has essentially been on vacation since being sworn in last January.

According to CBS news, Congress has passed just 23 laws this year—“one to name a bridge and another to promote fishing in Tennessee’s Cumberland River.” If federal lawmakers keep up their current snail’s pace, the 113th Congress could end up being the all-time least productive Congress in history.

Is it any wonder that Congress has a dismal approval rating—an embarrassing 17 percent.  A recent Fox News poll finds that 82 percent of American’s think Congress is so bad at doing its job that it doesn’t deserve a vacation.  According to a Fox News release, “we’ve finally found an issue everyone can agree on: large majorities of independents (87 percent), Republicans (82 percent), and Democrats (80 percent) say Congress shouldn’t get August off.”

When Congress returns in September it will come back to mounds of unfinished business from guns to climate control to jobs to transportation to housing to immigration to what will be its most pressing agenda item—passing a FY 2014 spending bill before the September 30 deadline. With Republicans promising deeper spending cuts, including calls to defund Obamacare and the Democrats looking to roll back the sequester, a government shutdown is very much in the cards.

Perhaps the glimmer of bipartisanship, which was displayed just prior to Congress leaving on break, is a reason for hope. Having missed a July 1 deadline to reach a deal on student loans, which saw new subsidized Stafford loans doubling to 6.8 percent, House Democrats and Republicans passed legislation on July 31st to lower student loan rates in the short-term.  On a vote of 392-31 the House approved a bill tying student loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury note. The House measure follows the passage of a Senate bill capping interest rates at 8.25 percent and 9.5 percent for subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans, respectively. The bill is waiting for the President’s signature.

What’s for sure: all eyes will be on Congress once it returns to D.C. next month.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at


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3 Responses to “Congress Takes a Break from Doing Nothing”

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“Doing Nothing” would be an improvement on the mischief the House in particular is engaged in making.

Sometimes doing nothing is preferable to doing something egregious.

Doing nothing when one in six children in the nation is hungry or “food insecure” is shameful…. It makes me crazy…

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