The DoNothing GOP House will return after a one week “Constituent Work Week” (aka visit local Chamber of Commerce and hold fundraiser) … for a short work “week” as the last vote is scheduled to end by 3PM on Thursday … and then off for Memorial Day weekend (returning the following Wednesday evening.)
So what’s on the schedule?
… a vote on the Senate approved re-establishment of a long-term unemployment program — nah.
… a vote on the Fair Pay Act, raising the minimum wage, immigration reform — nah.
… a hearing on the impact of student debt or repealing the John Kline student loan interest rate increase — nah
… a hearing on responding to the Supreme Court’s complaints on the Voting Rights Act — nah
… a hearing on early childhood education — nah.
Yeah, none of these pieces of legislation is currently on the House’s docket.
So what is on the docket ?
H.R.2203 : To provide for the award of a gold medal on behalf of Congress to Jack Nicklaus, in recognition of his service to the Nation in promoting excellence, good sportsmanship, and philanthropy.
Yep, the House is rushing back to Washington to (cross your fingers) get a Gold Medal for Jack Nicklaus … the vote should not be close as 304 Members are co-sponsors including Michele Bachmann, John Kline, Rick Nolan, Erik Paulsen and Tim Walz.
Wait a second … a Gold Medal … yeah, I know that you too are surprised as didn’t the 112th Congress approve awarding a Gold Medal to Jack Nicklaus on H.R. 4040 and wasn’t Jack Nicklaus honored by President George W. Bush in 2005 by receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to any U.S. civilian. Turns out that four Republicans voted against H.R. 4040 so in golf terminology “Let’s call that a Mulligan and grant a do-over.”
Actually, looking at the House schedule, this week’s votes should be “voice votes” because the margins will be overwhelming and just recorded so the Members can tell their constituents they did something … for example, the House has scheduled FIVE bills related to sex trafficking including Erik Paulsen’s H.R. 3610 : Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act.
Five bills … they couldn’t create one bill because five Members needed to show their districts that they took action on human trafficking. Regular readers of the Roundtable may recall the January commentary recognizing that the GOP would use the sex trafficking issue to take away the sting of the GOP-shutdown and being labeled as obstructionists.
But if the House is going to take time to reflect on the historical impact that Jack Nicklaus had on the world of golf … why don’t they have to time to consider House Resolution 561 — Whereas May 17, 2014, marks the 60th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).
That House Resolution has 58 co-sponsors from both political parties (but only Betty McCollum from Minnesota) … and a resolution has less costs to print then all the letters and certificates that John Kline mailed to high school graduates.
The resolution is a simple statement :
Resolved, That the House of Representatives marks the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), which signaled the end of State-sanctioned segregation of schools in the United States, so that it is unlawful to deny access to public facilities on the basis of race.
But this House is too busy to waste time on that when America could be saluting a golf hero.
There is one interesting piece of legislation that the House may consider … James Sensenbrenner’s (R-WI-5) H.R. 3361 : Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection, and Online Monitoring Act ( aka USA FREEDOM Act) to address privacy protection and NSA surveillance. The legislation has 152 co-sponsors including Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum.
And, if the Rules Committee allows it, a vote could be held on H.R. 4435 : National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (as the Defense Industry wants a vote before making more contributions to Member’s election campaigns.) And in a related note, be sure to read the New York Times OpEd The House Ducks on Defense :
Congress seems firmly stuck in the past, loyal to campaign donors and frightened, as always, about local political fallout from closing excess military bases, modifying military compensation, reducing troop levels and cutting nonessential or older weapons.
The committee, pressed by lobbyists and members in districts where the weapons are built, voted reject Pentagon savings on A-10, U2 Spy plane and maintenance on ships destined to be retired in 2016. In addition, the committee approved billions of dollars in funding for the F-35 jet fighter, despite serious capability and development issues. The committee abdicated responsibility for one of the Pentagon’s biggest challenges, pay and benefits. If left unaddressed, they could eventually consume most of the budget and make weapons modernization impossible.
Pending legislation that the House should be working on :
H.R. 15 : Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act
H.R. 377 : Paycheck Fairness Act
H.R. 1010 :Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013.
H.R. 1565 : Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2013
H.R. 1755 : Employment Non-Discrimination Act
H.R. 3461 : Strong Start for America’s Children Act
H.R. 3899 : Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014
H.R. 3979 : Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2014
H.R. 4582 : Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act
BTW : For those that are wondering what Chairman Kline is doing this week … his schedule is blank — no hearings and no mark-ups … leaving plenty of time to call for campaign donations.