Lame-Duck Congress Throwing in Towel

WaPo relegates to page 4 a report from Jonathan Weisman that the Republican leadership is going to abdicate responsibility and “run out the clock” on their remaining weeks in office.

Congress will convene on Tuesday for what some fear will be the lamest of lame-duck sessions, and GOP leaders have decided to take a minimalist approach before turning over the reins of power to the Democrats. Rather than a final surge of legislative activity, Congress will probably wrap up things after a single, short week of work. They have even decided to punt decisions on annual government spending measures to the Democrats next year.

“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.”

Well boo frickin’ hoo. Aren’t these guys still being paid? Didn’t these guys run two years ago promising to achieve certain things for their constituents? And, given that the party is about to go into the minority, wouldn’t it behoove them to get stuff done while they still can?

Too tired?! From what? Aside from covering up scandals and wasting a lot of taxpayer money, it’s not as if they’ve worked all that hard.

Before the midterm elections, GOP leaders had dismissed the Democrats’ “do-nothing” label for the 109th Congress as political posturing, promising that a robust post-election session would put the accusation to rest. Instead, Republican lawmakers will have met for one week in November, devoted almost exclusively to leadership elections for next year, and one week in December, largely to pick committee assignments, move offices and pass a measure to keep the government operating through February.

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.

Perhaps a rebate is in order?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    And, given that the party is about to go into the minority, wouldn’t it behoove them to get stuff done while they still can?

    Too tired?! From what? Aside from covering up scandals and wasting a lot of taxpayer money, it’s not as if they’ve worked all that hard.

    ITs pretty clear what they’re doing: pushing the spending measures until January will fill the early agenda of the Democratically-controlled Congress, making it harder for the Dems to start the scores of investigations into the Bush Administration’s malfeasance.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    They have a certain shelf life and a certain amount of energy to be drawn on. We’re tired.

    Sounds like an argument for term limits to me.

  3. Chris says:

    This is actually a fine tactical move, both to bog down the “100 hour agenda” and to make the D’s begin immediate heavy lifting. This is not about “now” but ’08. I applaud this.

  4. Anderson says:

    Well, they *did* suspend habeas for Gitmo prisoners and immunize John Yoo, George W. Bush et al. from potential liability for war crimes.

    Mission Accomplished!

  5. just me says:

    This doesn’t surprise me, and honestly they aren’t going to get through anything controversial, and in some ways it is a sort of poke in the eye, let the dems deal with it issue.

    I agree this is as much about ’08 as anything, and I am not convinced it is a bad move. In ’08 are the dems really going to say “hey look the GOP didn’t do anything in the house during their lame duck session” I doubt it?

  6. Tano says:

    “Sounds like an argument for term limits to me.”

    The democratic (note small d) solution to tired office-holders has just been exercised.

  7. Nothing illustrates why they lost better than this.

  8. This is actually a fine tactical move, both to bog down the “100 hour agenda” and to make the D’s begin immediate heavy lifting. This is not about “now” but ‘08. I applaud this.

    People who are actually concerned about the country and less about political childishness would definitely NOT applaud this.

  9. Steven Plunk says:

    Does anyone think they could accomplish anything of substance in this interim period? The present opposition party could drag it’s heels enough to delay any legislation it does not like. So why push when you know it won’t move?

  10. madmatt says:

    Comment in violation of site policies deleted.