Politics & Policy

Not Exactly the ‘Do-Nothing Congress’

Behind the myth is a Democratic Do-Little Senate and a Republican Do-Lots House.

‘We could do so much more if Congress would come on and help out a little bit,” President Obama said in Kansas City on July 30. “Stop bein’ mad all the time. Stop just hatin’ all the time.”

Democratic national chairwoman Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D., Fla.) similarly moaned on MSNBC, “The Republicans refuse to do anything.”

This notion of a “do-nothing Congress” is yet another Democrat fabrication. In fact, America has a Republican Do-Lots House and a Democratic Do-Little Senate.

Since January 2013, according to its Republican Conference, the Do-Lots House has adopted 347 bills that await votes in the Do-Little Senate. These include serious initiatives to reinvigorate the economy, reduce taxes, speed energy production, slice red tape, expand school choice, extend the flexibility of workers’ hours, enhance federal accountability, and more.

Source: House Republican Conference Flickr File — August 5, 2014.

During the 113th Congress, the Do-Lots House passed 511 bills; the Do-Little Senate, 232. The House has taken 480 roll-call (non-voice) votes; the Senate, 256. Obama has signed 108 House-originated bills but only 37 Senate-born laws. The House has authorized seven appropriations bills and 215 spending amendments; the Senate, zero of each.

Obama ungratefully forgets the Do Lots House’s favors from early this year. Republican leaders annoyed grassroots conservatives by adopting the sequester-ending Murray–Ryan budget, eliminating the debt ceiling, and passing a $956 billion farm bill. The over-generous Do-Lots House handed Obama these elegantly wrapped gifts in return for . . . nothing. Orphaned in the process was Arkansas representative Tim Griffin and Florida senator Marco Rubio’s game-changing Republican amendment. It would have derailed the imminent, multibillion-dollar Obamacare bailout of health insurers’ program-induced financial losses.

True, 68 Senate-passed bills — including immigration reform — gather dust on House speaker John Boehner’s desk. But Harry Reid’s inbox swells with quintuple that number. The Senate Democratic leader blocks votes on 347 measures.


Floor votes make vulnerable Democratic senators choose between their often centrist constituents and their typically leftist Big Labor, trial-lawyer, and environmentalist paymasters. So, Reid shields them by letting nearly every House Republican idea grow mold in his office. Spared the inconvenience of angering either people who cast ballots bearing their names or sign checks payable to their campaigns, Reid lets Democrats be all things to all people.

This scenario unfolded on August 1 at 8:37 p.m., when the Do-Lots House approved $694 million to fortify the U.S./Mexican border and address the current illegal-alien tsunami.

Meanwhile, the Do-Little Senate didn’t await House action. Had Republicans capitulated and passed Obama’s border proposal verbatim, Senate Democrats could not have responded. They fled for vacation that day at 2:39 p.m.

This flagrant shirking of solemn duty is routine. Senate Democrats are serial lawbreakers. The 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act states: “On or before April 15 of each year, the Congress shall complete action on a concurrent resolution on the budget for the fiscal year.” While the Do-Lots House consistently obeys this federal law, the Do-Little Senate repeatedly has violated it. Since 2010 inclusive, Democrats have refused to adopt a budget every year except 2013. In that instance, the Do-Little Senate actually complied with federal law after House Republicans demanded that it do so as part of the New Year’s Eve 2012 “fiscal cliff” agreement.

Liberals may argue that the Do-Lots House only advances far-right veto bait. Wrong!

Among these House bills, 178 passed without opposition, and 98 percent enjoyed bipartisan support. In fact, 55 House-approved bills were introduced by Democrats.

Even if House Republicans passed only Tea Party–approved legislation, Reid and the Do-Littles should adopt corresponding measures. Then, in conference committees, competing bills could be forged into compromise language that the House and Senate could enact. Both sides would grit their teeth, squeeze their nostrils shut, and swallow things that  might enrage zealots (like me) in their respective camps. But, in the end, legislation should emerge that begins to solve (or at least improve) America’s myriad problems.

But if the Do-Lots House mans the field while Do-Little Senate Democrats scowl in the dugout and won’t come to bat, Obama cannot blame Republicans for not playing ball.

— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor, a contributor to National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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