Sometimes I wonder why the approval rating for Congress is so low, then they pull a stunt like they did last night. In case you didn’t see the news (or don’t care to know), your employees in the Senate pulled an all-nighter to “debate” the Iraqi war. Basically you just paid them for a 24-hour shift which produced nothing.
(Cots being put up in the Senate for the All-Nighter)
What irks me about this is in reality, Congress has no ability to withdrawal the troops from Iraq (the President is Commander-in-Chief) by simple legislation; they have to cut off funding for the war in the Department of Defense Appropriations bill. That is something that I cannot imagine would ever be done (but never say never). So did they stay up all night negotiating cutting off funding for the war? NO! They stayed up all night grandstanding, producing sound bites regarding the war. It was a disgrace. You should be outraged.
Naturally you would imagine if they spent all this time doing nothing that they are finished with their business. NOT EVEN CLOSE! Each year the only job Congress MUST to for its citizens, is pass the appropriation bills (these are the bills that fund your federal government (Medicare, Medicaid, social security, homeland security, defense, etc etc etc) before the start of the Fiscal Year (October 1). There are basically 12 Appropriations bills (Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Energy & Water, Military Construction, Foreign Operations, etc). Anyone want to take a guess how many of the Approps bill your Senate have passed? Zero. 0. Not a 1. 0 out of 12.
So lets do the math. If the Approps bills need to be passed by October 1, and Congress takes the entire month of August off, we basically have 5-6 weeks to pass 12 Appropriation bills. That might seem doable with a little hard work, but it is not just 12 simple votes. They have to pass the bill in the Senate, negotiate the differences with the bills that were passed in the House, then vote to pass the negotiated (Conference Committee) bill before it goes to the President. I should also let you know that most approps bills take several days of debate on the floor before they are passed. Now, it would not be fair if I did not also tell you that part of the reason the Senate is behind is because the House is behind. (Most of the delay this year has been a hold up on how to handle earmarks.) They have only passed 7 of 12 bills, and most of them have been in the past week or two.
Frankly, I don’t care who is to blame, I just want them to do their job.
P.S. Did I also mention that the Appropriations bills as proposed by Congress are $20 BILLION above the Presidents proposed budget? That is like thinking you have enough funds to buy a condo and then deciding to buy a multi-million dollar mansion instead.