The Dropping Ball
Monday December 31, 2012
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As of Eight PM Eastern Time last night the Senate had adjourned without having a Fiscal-Cliff-Avoiding bill to vote on. So, there neither was there an F-C-A bill for the House to vote on.
Although everyone has accepted the fact that the Senate will have to act first, it is also an article of faith that there is no point in GOP Senators supporting a bill that can't - even with Democratic support - pass the House.
It is also a matter of faith that there is no point in the House and Senate passing a bill that President Barack Obama won't sign.
So, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is reduced to being the messenger-boy for the White House: Reid talks to the White House and then talks to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell about what the President will or will not accept.
Mitch McConnell then decides whether or not his GOP Conference will accept what the President is asking for. If not, then everyone sends an on-background spokesperson out to describe just how unreasonable the other guys are being and then they return to their rotating Mahjong game or whatever they do to pass the time in the leadership offices.
At some point the Senate leaders call their House counterparts or, more likely, someone on Reid's and McConnell's staff calls someone on Boehner's and Pelosi's staff to give a status report.
The Members of the House have spent hundreds of thousands of tax dollars flying back to Washington from their home districts to sit around this weekend.
It's like the Fiscal Cliff is a vacation destination for Members.
As long as they are in Washington (at our expense) the Speaker and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will have called separate meetings of their troops to give them an update. It will not be more of an update than anyone with a Twitter account couldn't have found out because whatever is said in those meetings leaks almost before the meeting is over.
Keep in mind, this deadline has been looming since last November. Not November 2012, but November 2011 - 13 months.
Neither the President, nor the Leadership in the House or Senate was the least bit interested in working on this problem over the past 13 months.
According to the official website of the House Majority Leader, the House worked 12 days in July, two days in August, a backbreaking eight days in September, ZERO days in October, and eight more "Workin' in a Coal Mine" days in November.
So, over the five months between June and December, our hard-working leaders hard-worked 30 days.
The rest of the time they were home campaigning to keep the job we pay them to do without actually doing the job we pay them for.
Thus, the Fiscal Cliff.
The House and Senate should adopt rules that require a vote - even a quorum call - not later than 9 AM on Monday mornings nor prior to 5 PM on Friday evenings.
That would put them on a schedule that more-or-less matches the rest of America, as opposed a schedule that more closely matches the standard work schedule in France.
You miss the vote or quorum call at the beginning or end of the week: You don't get paid for that week. And if that's not Constitutional, pass an amendment and make it Constitutional. I guarantee the requisite number of State Legislatures will adopt it.
If you absolutely have to attend the Paris Air Show,or any other CODEL (COngressional DELegation trip), then you need to provide - on your official website - a complete list of meetings, parties, receptions, meals, and anything else you did so the total adds up to 24 hours-per day.
Same thing when you're in your home district. Attending the kid's dance recital? Great. We want it on the official record and you better have actually been there.
Just like real people have to do when they travel on the company dime.
Last excellent idea:
At midnight tonight the Leaders of the House and Senate should gather in the middle of the Capitol Rotunda for a group hug to mark not the famous dropping ball in Times Square, but having dropped the ball in Washington.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the House Majority Leader's webpage showing the schedule for 2012. And the equally depressing schedule for 2013.
Also a wonderful Mullfoto of the Lad and Grand Ladette from Christmas week.
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