The next time you hear rhetoric from your local Congressional Representative stating “…it is a privilege to work on your behalf, I am proud of the “accomplishments” we have made for the people of this district as we chart a new direction for this great nation in the 110th Congress”(2007 Fall addition, The Al Green Report). Send them a simple two line letter asking him/her to first read the below on the “8-PAC Eagle”, and then outline the alleged accomplishments.
On a typical busy Tuesday in early December 07, the House honored the life of opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, endorsed the importance of Christmas, and commemorated the centennial of the sailing of the Navy’s “Great White Fleet.”
2007 was that kind of year for 110th Congress.
Stymied by differences with the White House and congressional Republicans, majority Democrats have made scant headway on their “New Direction” priorities, chief among them ending the war in Iraq. Immigration reform, spending bills, health coverage for more lower-income children, the farm bill, and fixing the alternative minimum tax all have hit major turbulence, with immigration shelved for the year.
Sure, in the waning days of the 2007 session, Congress raced to finish big ticket items such as the energy, defense, and spending bills. But Democrats were rocked back on their heels particularly on spending and the war in Iraq, where they were forced to bow to President Bush’s demands. A hyper-partisan atmosphere, a narrowly divided Senate, a president who discovered his veto pen, and keen philosophical differences (all cast into relief by the 2008 election) are blamed for Congress’ inability to get much done.
Labeled the “do nothing Congress” by some, lawmakers can point to one area of shining success: THERE FAST PACE IN RENAMING POST OFFICES, COURTHOUSES, AND OTHER FEDERAL BUILDINGS!
Of the 134 bills signed into law last year, fully 63 of them (or 47%) celebrated noteworthy Americans by naming buildings after them, or doling out other honors such as medals or commemorative coin designations. It’s no wonder Congress didn’t exactly covered itself in glory last year, if measured by the barometer of public uneasy about the economy, the war, health care, sub-prime mortgage mess and other pressing issues.
Though Bush’s job approval ratings have been in the cellar for more than a year, hovering in the 30s in many polls, his numbers would be a step up for Congress. In the most recent Gallup Poll, 22 percent of Americans approve of Congress: a near historical low.
Even Republicans, many of whom have joyously needled the Democrats for not doing more, are fretting about the year’s lack of accomplishments.