July 30, 2014 at 3:00 pm EST | by Peter Rosenstein
Congress takes a vacation from what?
vacation, gay news, Washington Blade

The Republicans have changed their mantra to stop any initiatives that could help Democrats in the 2014 mid-term elections.

Congress is taking a six-week vacation and many question from what they are vacationing. They clearly haven’t done any work. They are leaving town while much of the world is at war; the Veterans Administration is a mess and even with some new funding needs much more than Congress is willing to fund; immigration reform is still not on their radar; they couldn’t agree on what needs to be done to shore up the nation’s infrastructure so simply passed a stop-gap measure; and ENDA, among so many other bills, is left unfinished.

Some would say that we are better off when they are home because they can’t cause trouble. I come from a background that suggests that people should actually do some work for their pay and that legislation is accomplished only when men and women of good will are willing to compromise. This Congress has a clear dearth of men and women of good will.

From the time Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell stated in 2010 that his only goal was to see that President Obama wasn’t reelected to a second term it seems that Congress stopped working. Despite McConnell, who has his own reelection problems, the president was reelected and now the Republicans have changed their mantra to stop any initiatives that could help Democrats in the 2014 mid-term elections. According to The Hill, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the Senate’s current incarnation of Joseph McCarthy, “is urging House Republicans to reject legislation addressing the border crisis, arguing that passing the bill through the lower chamber would play into the hands of Senate Democrats.” In essence the kids be damned let’s keep playing politics.

As the 2014 elections approach there seems little chance that things will get much better. The public is disgusted if you can believe Real Clear Politics average of four recent polls showing Congress with a 13 percent approval rating. Instead of throwing all the bums out the public may just stay home and not vote. That would be sad.

We need to galvanize the public to again to understand that only by voting can they make a difference. The only politician today grabbing a majority of the public’s attention is Hillary Rodham Clinton and she isn’t currently a candidate.

In one of those useless but sometimes interesting polls, CNN recently asked voters if the 2012 election were run today who they would vote for. The result was Romney 55 percent to Obama 44 percent and the same people said they would vote for Clinton 55 percent over Romney 42 percent. That is what you get because neither Romney nor Clinton is currently responsible for making the hard choices a president has to make. But it matches every other poll recently taken where Clinton bests every potential Republican candidate. She is disliked by many but strikes a positive chord in more, including independents and women who make up the majority of the electorate.

What has become increasingly clear is that President Obama won’t get the credit for all his accomplishments until after he leaves office. Less clear is why the electorate is accepting a Congress that does nothing. In a Washington Post column on how the current Congress looks in relation to previous ones, “Not so well, according to the new Vital Statistics on Congress, which shows that the 112th Congress passed just 561 bills, the lowest number since they began keeping these stats way back in 1947.” Maybe we can divine something about Republicans from another piece of information in that same column. “The second lowest number of bills passed in a single Congress — 611 — was back in the 104th Congress, the two-year session that followed Republicans re-taking control of the House in 1994 after four decades of Democratic control.”

I am not giving up on the electorate entirely. It appears they will vote to have Democrats continue to control the Senate and avoid Republicans from taking us back to the 19th century. This has the added benefit of frustrating the goals of Ted Cruz. Voters could still come to their senses before November and turn the House back to Democrats allowing them, with the help of the few moderate Republicans remaining, to try to pass immigration reform, equal pay for equal work legislation, ENDA, legislation to improve the nation’s infrastructure, and reduce the interest rates on college loans. Legislative accomplishments that would both lift the economy and move America forward.

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