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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Friday, August 03, 2012

Political Zaniness: Congress in Recess? Absent Yes - Recess No

Toon 4 Mo.s Ago via Asian Conservatives:
Same Congress - Same Problems
Today in Washington, D.C. - August 3, 2012:
Both the House (led by Republicans) and Senate (led by Democrats), held short pro-forma sessions this morning. The Senate and House will a series hold pro-forma sessions until the Senate reconvenes on Monday, September 10th.  This is the "so called" August recess! However the Congress is not officially in recess.  For those interested in political zaniness, below are some excerpts from an excellent article by  Chan Pergram, FoxNews explains "when a congressional recess is not a recess":
That's the state of affairs in Washington after the House of Representatives defeated what is usually a routine "adjournment resolution" for August on Thursday. The resolution would allow lawmakers to escape the Capitol and head to their districts to campaign and attend the political conventions.

The bottom line: Congress is technically NOT on August recess.

On Thursday, the Senate voted to adjourn by unanimous consent. But the House did not, voting 265-150. . . .

Why is this important? Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution says "Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days...."

So that eliminates the ability of the House and Senate to disappear for five weeks until September 10.  That means they have to meet - at least in a pro forma session - every three days from now through September.

Pro forma" is Latin meaning "as if." So, the House and Senate may meet "as if" all members are here. But don't expect any legislative business.

This doesn't entail much. The House and Senate simply gavel in and gavel out after the opening prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance and some clerical business.But you can expect a lot of carping. . . .

[With the House still officially in session] Mike Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), [said] "House Leaders made it clear earlier this week that we will bring the House back at any time if Senate Democrats act to stop the looming tax hikes or replace the devastating defense sequester with other spending cuts. On both issues, the House has acted - so House Democratic Leaders should direct their complaints and comments to Senate Democrats, and President Obama."

... There is also an operational hurdle to clear. Since the House didn't agree to adjourn, the Senate will have to meet at three-day intervals, too. But there's a problem. The Senate chamber is scheduled to have its carpet replaced this month.

The Senate will meet for the first of its 11 pro forma sessions in August and September in the chamber on Friday. But after that, the rest will be moved to room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building. This is a large room where big events like confirmations for cabinet secretaries and Supreme Court justices unfold. The Constitution doesn't require the House or Senate to meet in any particular place. . .

Of course, none of this zaniness should surprise anyone. Shakespeare may have written about the Ides of March. But in politics, there is nothing stranger than the "Ides of August." Most in Washington plan to go on vacation in August and anticipate a quiet month. But they shouldn't. Scores of seminal events which shape the body politic seem to hit in August. Sometimes they alter the political landscape.
Last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) objected to a request from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to hold a vote on repealing Obamacare.

Also yesterday, Reid failed to get the 60 votes needed to cut off debate on the cybersecurity bill (S. 3414) by a vote of 52-46. Following that, the Senate rejected an amendment from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to change the offsets to the Burma Sanctions and African Growth and Opportunity Act by a vote of 40-58, and then passed the bill by unanimous consent.

Later, the Senate voted "55-41 to confirm Gershwin A. Drain to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Yesterday, as mentioned previously, the House did NOT pass S. Con. Res. 56 (150-265 ) - "Providing for a conditional adjournment or recess of the Senate and an adjournment of the House of Representatives."

However, the House did pass by voting Con. Res. 127 (414-0) — "Expressing the sense of Congress regarding actions to preserve and advance the multistakeholder governance model under which the Internet has thrived" and H.R. 6233 (223-197) — "To make supplemental agricultural disaster assistance available for fiscal year 2012 with the costs of such assistance offset by changes to certain conservation programs, and for other purposes."

The House also passed by Voice Vote the following bill:

H.R. 5986 — "To amend the African Growth and Opportunity Act to extend the third-country fabric program and to add South Sudan to the list of countries eligible for designation under that Act, to make technical corrections to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States relating to the textile and apparel rules of origin for the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement, to approve the renewal of import restrictions contained in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003, and for other purposes."
S. 3510 — "To prevent harm to the national security or endangering the military officers and civilian employees to whom internet publication of certain information applies, and for other purposes."
H.R. 1402 — "To authorize the Architect of the Capitol to establish battery recharging stations for privately owned vehicles in parking areas under the jurisdiction of the House of Representatives at no net cost to the Federal Government." 
S. 739 — "To authorize the Architect of the Capitol to establish battery recharging stations for privately owned vehicles in parking areas under the jurisdiction of the Senate at no net cost to the Federal Government."

Roll Call reported last night, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) this evening rejected a plan offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to set up a vote on repealing the 2010 health care law before the end of September. ‘Our Republican friends are hopelessly stuck in the past,’ Reid said before objecting to a GOP unanimous consent request. ‘They continue to want to fight battles that are already over.’”

This now marks the third time since the Supreme Court ruling that Reid has blocked an attempt from Leader McConnell to get a vote on repealing Obamacare. Reid blocked amendments to a bill earlier in July after McConnell filed a repeal amendment, blocked amendments again to a bill this week, and then rejected a consent request McConnell made last night to bring up the House-passed Obamacare repeal bill.

Leader McConnell said last night, “Earlier this week, the Majority Leader and a number of his colleagues took to the floor to defend the President’s health care law and to tout provisions they believe to be popular with the public. What they didn’t do was allow for a vote on the entirety of the bill, which proves to be even more of a disaster with each passing day, and which a majority of Americans continue to oppose. Put another way, Senate Democrats spent nearly an entire day talking about parts of Obamacare that poll well, but refused to spend 15 minutes being caught on camera voting to uphold the entire law. What are they afraid of? Why won’t they allow a vote?”

Just this week, we learned (from The New York Timesno less) that President Obama’s unpopular health care law is likely to exacerbate a doctor shortage and that job creators are already struggling with the fees and mandates in the law.

Yet Senate Democrats continue to block a Senate vote on Obamacare. Are they proud of this 2,700 page legislation or not?


Tags: Us Senate, US House, recess To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 10:34 AM - Post Link

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