Congress Neuters Itself, for America

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 1 2013 9:17 AM

Congress Neuters Itself, for America

162917730
House Speaker John Boehner speaks to the media after a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House, March 1, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

CNN's Dana Bash spent yesterday morning doing some solid ambush reporting that, really, other reporters should have thought to do. As members of Congress headed out of the Capitol, to the cars taking them to their preferred airlines, Bash asked them why they wouldn't be around when the cuts hit. The most entertaining spin came from Rep. Richard Hudson, who won a gerrymandered seat in North Carolina least year, and argued that "the work we do there [at home] is more important, in my opinion, than the work we do here." He's been in Congress for two months!

Advertisement

This is an entertaining way into my story from the soggy conclusion of Sequestergeddon. Time and again in the Boehner era, Congress has acted out to prove its dogmas, gotten perilously close to crisis, then voted to empower the executive branch to fix the crisis. In December 2010, Republicans banned earmarking—something that cut no spending at all, but took away their tool for getting specific projects into bills. In the summer of 2011, they agreed to a debt deal that raised the debt limit through the presidential election, and created an end-run around their own rules, allowing a "supercommittee" to draft a plan that couldn't be filibustered. And yesterday's big Republican idea to fix sequestration was "flexibility"—a bill that would have allowed the president and agencies to shuffle their funding around, as long as they came up with ways to hit the sequestration cost targets.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.