At a public event last week, President Obama quoted the artist formerly known as “Marky Mark” to express his exasperation with Congress. Quoting Mark Wahlberg’s character in the Martin Scorsese film The Departed, the president of the United States declared, “I’m the guy who does his job. You must be the other guy.”
Rather than trawling through IMDB for partisan attack lines, President Obama ought to pick up the telephone and call the Senate Democratic leaders who are blocking nearly 40 House-passed bills to help our economy grow and create more American jobs.
It’s Civics 101: Congress is composed of two Houses. In one of them, the House of Representatives, we are making the American people’s top priority — jobs and the economy — our top priority. We’re passing pro-growth bills to cut red tape, expand American energy production, improve our broken tax code, and lower health care costs. We’re keeping a running list at Speaker.gov/jobs.
The other House of Congress, the Senate, is controlled by the president’s own political party. The Senate has done almost nothing on jobs legislation this year. Traditionally, the president – as the leader of his political party – would take some responsibility for that.
Let’s take a look at the overall numbers as of last week: the House has passed at least 284 bills that the Senate has failed to act on. It has passed four times as many bills as the Senate. Of the 120 bills President Obama himself has signed into law, only 27 percent came from the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The House has passed half of the 12 annual spending bills that keep the government running. We still have work to do, but the Democratic Senate has not passed a single one. Under our open amendment process during debate on these bills, the House voted on 161 amendments offered by House Democrats – while Republicans in the Senate have been completely shut out, kept from offering even a single amendment.
Things have gotten so bad that Senate Democrats are openly complaining about the lack of productivity. A Democratic committee chairman even went on record saying he’s “furious” with his leaders for blocking a bipartisan patent bill that would have encouraged business innovation and job creation.
Frankly, it is somewhat striking what we have been able to accomplish in the face of unprecedented Senate gridlock, from the most significant spending reductions in modern history to long-term, market-based student loan reform.
We also just completed and sent to the president’s desk the first rewrite of workforce development laws in 16 years, a bill that includes good conservative reforms like eliminating 15 duplicative programs and empowering states to innovate. The measure will help many out-of-work Americans develop the skills they need to fill jobs that are available.
We want to get more done – much more. There are dozens of good, common-sense steps we can take right now to help the private sector create more American jobs. That is why we hope the president will stop complaining at pep rallies, take this up with Senate Democrats, and call on them to act.
– John Boehner represents the 8th Congressional District of Ohio and is the Speaker of the House of Representatives.