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A "Do-Nothing" Senate?

The Senate is planning to adjourn this weekend, giving those Senators seeking reelection over a month off to campaign. This is quite early. Indeed, as noted on ConfirmThem, this will be the earliest the Senate has adjourned in an election year in thirty years (if not more). Congress maven Norman Ornstein further observes:

This Congress hit the ground stumbling and has not lifted itself into an upright position. With few accomplishments and an overloaded agenda, it is set to finish its tenure with the fewest number of days in session in our lifetimes, falling well below 100 days this year.

This new modern record is even more staggering when one realizes that more than 25 of those days had no votes scheduled before 6:30 p.m., making them half- or quarter-days at best. The typical workweek in Congress (when there is a week spent in Washington) starts late Tuesday evening and finishes by noon Thursday. No wonder satirist Mark Russell closes many of his shows by telling his audiences what members of Congress tell their colleagues every Wednesday: "Have a nice weekend."

Of course, this is not necessarily a bad thing. I am generally sympathetic to the view that Americans are safer when Congress is out of session. On the other hand, there are matters worthy of further Congressional consideration, from the detainee-treatment and NSA surveillance legislation (which may well keep Congress in schedule later than its leadership had planned) to the confirmation of federal judges (some of whom have been waiting, literally, for years).

rarango (mail):
Wasnt it Mark Twain who said Congress is America's true criminal class?
9.28.2006 1:13pm
Steve:
"I am generally sympathetic to the view that Americans are safer when Congress is out of session." -Jonathan Adler

"The generally accepted notion that the [Supreme] Court can only hear roughly 150 cases each term gives the same sense of reassurance as the adjournment of the court in July, when we know the Constitution is safe for the summer." -John Roberts

"Oh, no, it makes the country a lot more safe - the further Bush is away from Washington the better it is." -Charlie Rangel, asked if he feels President Bush takes too much vacation time
9.28.2006 1:39pm
Steve Brady (mail) (www):
Yes, yes, the Senate will do nothing except suspend the writ of habeas corpus, legitimize torture, and blur the Geneva conventions.

That's a load of work for three or four days. It's just a few hundred years of history, is all.
9.28.2006 2:26pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Steve is right --- this is a memorable Congress indeed.
9.28.2006 3:16pm
JohnAnnArbor:

Yes, yes, the Senate will do nothing except suspend the writ of habeas corpus, legitimize torture, and blur the Geneva conventions.

Wow. When did that happen?
9.28.2006 7:03pm
Randy R. (mail):
Read the news John. Oh, and apparently, the new law is 'unclear' about whether sexual assualt of prisoners is allowable, especially since the Senate cut off debate on this very issue.
So it becomes a discretionary thing.
9.28.2006 7:58pm
Lev:

Of course, this is not necessarily a bad thing. I am generally sympathetic to the view that Americans are safer when Congress is out of session.


Generally, that is true. However, this year, these lazy craven, publicity seeking, narcissitic, bloviating, sacks of excrement, have yet to pass a majority, if not all, of the required appropriations bills for FY 2007.

And if you (nonspecific second person singular) believe that the Omnibus Budget Spending and Reconciliation Bill that will result from that lame duck session will not be one of the most filthy, anti-liberty, anti-rights, corrupt, gargantuan abominations ever, then you (nonspecific second person singular) are an appalling idiot who should not be allowed to live.

I hope I have expressed myself clearly enough.
9.29.2006 2:33am
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx:
The government that governs least is the government that governs best.
9.29.2006 1:51pm
TokyoTom (mail):
John, good point that it was the Administration that has been doing these things, but obviously the Republicans in Congress are complicit and the Dems have largely rolled over.

Lev, I agree copmpletely with the sentiment, but your expression of it reminds me of how the supporters of the Administration address their critics on the GWOT, etc.

Jonathan, surely you`ve noted the gross expansion of rent-seeking, corruption and throughout the Administration, and how it became field day once the Republicans had both houses? Fiscal restraint when out the window and we we treated to an orgy of abuse on behalf of favored interest groups. The GWOT itself masks a huge rent-seeking endeavor (that $500 billion is profitting somebody) and was also the perfect tool for the Administration and Republicans use to manipulate the American people and to intimidate Dems (and any dissenters within the Adminsitration).

More than needing the Congress to actually stand up and exercise its various reponsibilities (insead of passing them of to our unitary executive, administrative agencies and the courts), we desperately need DIVIDED government.
9.30.2006 5:53am
Rich Rostrom (mail):
If Congress is only in session for 100 days or so, then Congress should only meet for six months or so, then go home. In fact I think Congress should be constitutionally required to adjourn for the year after July 4. We'd have a lot fewer Senators- and Representatives-for-life if they had lives outside Congress. The same for state legislators. (Special sessions in July-December would be allowed, but only if a 3/4 majority of both houses agree.)
9.30.2006 4:39pm