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Yes, Congress is barely back from a five-week August recess. But after just two weeks back from that break, they now stand adjourned again, this time for a seven-week stretch taking us past the November elections, leading to a new round of "do-nothing Congress" reportage.

But you already knew about that, didn't you? Because the regular Daily Kos Today and This Week in Congress features have been telling you since forever that Republican obstructionists have used procedure to keep the Senate idling for years, and now even the Republican-controlled House—where there is no filibuster—has nonetheless spent the better part of its two years on nothing, only there they've done it as an affirmative matter.

What do I mean? Let's go to the blog equivalent of the videotape:

May 12, 2011:

The House starts the day by finishing the repeal of the imaginary drilling moratorium (read brief descriptions of pending amendments here), then moves on to that Intelligence authorization bill that magically appeared, ready for floor action after two months in limbo, just a few days after President Obama pretty much pwned everybody on intelligence and national security matters, including the do-nothing-that-can-pass GOP House, by overseeing the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Nov. 3, 2011:

But whereas the Senate has the excuse of the filibuster, the House is a place that can get through whatever it wants to get done, because it's strictly majoritarian. It's just that the House doesn't have anything it cares to get through. It's particularly stunning in combination, to see both houses do as close to nothing at all on the same day, in the middle of the week, while thousands are literally in the streets clamoring for action on jobs and economic reform.
Feb. 27, 2012:
Besides, what the hell else are you going to do? Aside from the anticipated (but as-yet-unscheduled) return to the transportation bill, there's nothing else to watch. Any energy this 112th Congress has left in it is likely to be poured into the budget, and later, the appropriations bills, before they look to cut out early and hit the campaign trail. Floor time in a do-nothing Congress that already has one eye on adjournment and no hope of serious compromise on a budget just might never really get exciting, unless Republicans resolve to fill it with designed-to-fail political plays. And this week, I guess they're fresh out.
Apr. 18, 2012:
Today, the House takes up what I believe is the ninth emergency band-aid transportation authorization extension bill of the 112th Congress. At this point, nearly 10% of the entire public law output of the 112th is made up of transportation extensions, even though transportation authorization is usually a relatively easy, bipartisan affair. This time, however, Republicans are killing themselves internally, with Tea Party types battling old line Republicans over vague, ill-defined notions about what constitutes wasteful spending and the like. Unable to resolve the issues, they haven't found a way to put a permanent renewal on the table that they can patch together a working coalition to pass. But hey, if you thought that was a sign of incompetence and a do-nothing Congress, keep in mind that over 15% of the public law output has actually been post office and federal building naming legislation. Together, those two things by themselves constitute a quarter of their entire output.

Don't worry, though. That's not all the House has planned for the day. They're also going to vote on the Mark Twain commemorative coin.

Apr. 23, 2012:
This week looks to be another humdinger in the House, with suspension bills already scheduled into Thursday. That's a little unusual, especially so early in the year. While we do frequently see suspension votes stretched into the latter part of the week these days, it's usually not openly planned that way, heading into the week. Holding suspension votes after Wednesday requires a special dispensation from the Rules Committee, and while that's easy enough to arrange and pass on the floor, the fact that we're filling a pre-recess schedule in April (yes, they're taking another recess after this week) with suspensions that last into Thursday is a sign that the Republicans are putting the House into pre-elections mode, and plan to do as little of substance as possible. They'll have to get through the appropriations bills, of course. But beyond that, expect nothing more than throwing non-controversial bones to legislators who need shoring up at home, and political ploys designed to play to the base. And we're talking all the way from now through the election.


Back to the subject of things slowing down in the House, I want to note that even while it looks increasingly like they're planning to do nothing between now and November, word is they're looking to get seriously busy after the elections, in a lame duck session. Now, I'm old enough to remember the days when Republicans used to say that lame duck Congressional sessions were practically treason. But then again, Republicans think everything is practically treason these days. Still, you'll probably recall that when the very last Congress proposed a lame duck session after the 2010 elections, Republicans screamed bloody murder. Which is why it'll come as no surprise whatsoever to you if they in fact do that very thing themselves. What'll really be interesting is the reaction of the 27 Republican co-sponsors of H.R. 339, the "End the Lame Duck Act."

Yeah, it's been obvious for a long time, if you were willing to subject yourself to a close examination of the day-to-day record. Though even a quick perusal of the enacted public laws of the 112th Congress will tell you what you need to know. Just skim the titles of the stuff that's actually made it onto the books. Or easier still, flip through the available pages leading to the public laws enacted by previous Congresses, and take note of the sheer volume of the output. For the 112th Congress, you have the option of examining Public Laws 112-1 through 112-173. That is, there are 173 new laws on the books, passed by the 112th Congress. Whereas for the 111th, you have 383 laws to choose from. For the 110th, 460. The 109th, 482. The 108th, 498.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

But lest you be tempted to conclude that the 112th has simply been more efficient with its work, I'll remind you as I quoted above that as of mid-April, nearly 25 percent of the 112th Congress's total legislative output in terms of enacted laws consisted of re-namings of post office and other federal installations, and temporary transportation spending authority renewals and nothing else.

Nobody's ever done nothing like these Republican clowns did it. It's no wonder their brand, along with Congress's reputation, is in the toilet.

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