Has the House GOP Been Wasting Our Time?

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 27 2011 11:31 AM

Has the House GOP Been Wasting Our Time?

Tina Dupuy runs down the list of bills passed by the Republican House, starting with a guffaw: They've turned 14 bills into laws, and by this point the last three Congresses had turned 76 bills into laws.

But when House Republicans are actually in session, it's not exactly like they're doing nothing. They've made a point of passing bills that "send a message." Over and over, they've brought legislation to the floor that was doomed to die in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Why? To put taxpayer money where Republican congresspersons' mouths (and votes) are. Yes, the House Republicans of 112th Congress are having a love affair with the symbolic vote.
Advertisement

This isn't really fair. Oh, yes, some of these bills were stupid stunts. HR 1076, to defund NPR? Pointless, didn't save much money. But the "Restarting American Offshore Leasing Act" wasn't just an ideological stunt, nor was "the HAMP Termination Act." The latter is a pretty objectively good idea if there's something mooted to replace it. No, the GOP in the House is suffering from the same thing that the president and the Senate are suffering from -- debtmania. The debt panic has subsumed all other issues. (Poor Darrell Issa can't even get real attention for his investigation of the ATF's botched-up gun running sting.)

And are we supposed to knock Congress for not passing many bills? That's the point! This Congress started on a two weeks on/one week off schedule because Republicans want to govern less. Plenty of new members of Congress want to deregulate, cut taxes, and do nothing else. Judging their success by judging how many bills they've passed is the exact wrong way to look at them.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer

Foreigners

Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.

Technology

Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The Slate Quiz
Oct. 24 2014 12:10 AM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:47 PM Don’t Just Sit There How to be more productive during your commute.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 23 2014 5:42 PM Seriously, Evolution: WTF? Why I love the most awkward, absurd, hacked-together species.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.