The 113 Congress convened January 3rd and technically the only day the Senate was not in session was January 21 due the Inauguration.
So as we approach the six-week mark with all the talk in the news about the many issues facing the legislature, I think it is worth noting that thus far the US Senate has passed a total of 4 bills, 3 of which originated in the House. Four. Count them up: 1-2-3-4. You could count them on one hand and still have one finger left over to give to John Boehner (which finger is your choice)
Now technically there have been 24 things passed out of the Senate but three were “Concurrent Resolutions” for things like ordering the Electoral College to count votes, extending the life of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, etc. Oh, and one was the formal resolution to convene to hear the President’s State of the Union.
The other 16 were Senate Resolutions for procedural things like assigning committee chairs, formally opening the session, fixing hours and then symbolic things like congratulating the University of Alabama Crimson Tide on winning the BCS Football Championship, honoring Gonzaga University’s 125th Anniversary, designating February 4th-8th as “National School Counseling Week”.
That leaves FOUR actual pieces of Federal Legislation that have been passed (only three of which have been signed by President Obama). Jump the Orange Blazon of Citizens’ Incredulity if you are interested in the details.
H.R. 41: To temporarily increase the borrowing authority of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for carrying out the National Flood Insurance Program.This raised the National Flood Insurance Program’s borrowing authority from $20,725,000,000 to $30,425,000,000; effectively a $9.5B increase. This was done as a belated response to Hurricane Sandy and was the paltry half-step minimal effort that prompted the backlash from everyone, notably Republicans, in the Northeast. It passed the house 354-57 on January 4th, passed by the Senate on a simple voice vote on the same day and signed by the President on January 6th.
H.R. 152: Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013This was the end of the House GOP’s stumbling Hurricane Sandy response; $50.5 to various agencies to find direct support to victims, rebuild public utilities and hospitals, repair Army National Guard facilities, etc. It passed in the house 241-180 on January 15th, the Senate brought it to a vote on January 28th where I passed 62-36. Every single Democratic senator voted for it, along with Lamar Alexander (TN), Thad Cochran(MS), Susan Collins (ME), Dean Heller(NV), John Hoeven(ND), Richard Shelby(AL), David Vitter(LA) and Roger Wicker (MS).
The President signed the bill the following day.
H.R. 235: To ensure the complete and timely payment of the obligations of the United States Government until May 19, 2013, and for other purposes.Ah, the debt ceiling bill. Do I even need to rehash this? It suspends the restriction of the current $14.294T debt ceiling through May 18th, 2013. We all remember this as it happened, from Boehner’s hilarious Plan-B flop to threats of shut-downs, filibusters and accusations of betrayal from every teabagger from sea to shining sea. Oh, what fun times….
Finally passed the house on January 23rd (285-144) and passed the Senate on January 31st 64-34. Joe Manchin (WV) was the only Democrat voting against, Ayotte, Blunt, Cochran, Collins, Graham, Heller, McCain, Murkowski, Shelby, Thune and Wicker were the only GOP senators to support it.
President Obama signed the bill on February 4th.
Which brings us to the only bill the Senate has passed that has originated in its own chamber:
S. 227: Embassy Security Funds Transfer ActThis is Senator Patrick Leahy’s (VT) bill that simply allows funds authorized under the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 2012 to be transferred from the “Diplomatic and Consular Programs” section to the “Embassy Security, Construction and Maintenance” section so the State department has more flexibility in getting some projects done in the aftermath of Benghazi. This was introduced on February 4th, passed the same day by Unanimous Consent, sent to the House on the 5th and is currently “held at the desk” which means it has no committee assignment and is available for immediate consideration on the floor.
And that, my curious and hopefully equally disappointed friends, is it. That’s all there is. 100 Senators, six weeks, a flurry of policy issues and media coverage and there it is: Hurricane Sandy, debt limit and some State Department bookkeeping (which is still pending in the House). Nothing else.
..and people wonder why voters just aren't overwhelmed by the awesomeness of this Congress? This powerhouse of efficiency? This collective of consciously dedicated public servants working tirelessly for the common good?
Yeah.... about that.