WASHINGTON — The Home, paralyzed for days, struggled to elect a speaker. The Senate is holding symbolic votes simply to cross the time. America’s strongest lawmakers have been twiddling their thumbs, unable to maintain hearings as a result of committees aren’t arrange.
Welcome to the Seinfeld Congress. It’s a present about nothing.
One month in, the 118th Congress is off to a spectacularly sluggish begin, irritating some lawmakers and foreshadowing a messy two years of divided authorities in a presidential election cycle the place little or no is anticipated to get achieved.
Overlook making historic legal guidelines. It’s not even clear the brand new Congress can agree to maintain the federal government practical or stop a self-imposed financial meltdown.
“I’ve very low expectations,” Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., stated in an interview. “I’d predict — and I hope I’m unsuitable — it will show to be one of many least productive congresses in trendy historical past due to the dysfunctionality of an unstable majority.”
Home Republicans have a mere four-seat majority that empowers simply a few rabble-rousers to wreak havoc within the chamber. They spent their first 5 days squabbling with one another over whether or not Kevin McCarthy needs to be speaker. After 15 ballots — essentially the most since 1859 — he lastly gained the gavel, however not earlier than a bodily altercation broke out on the Home ground.
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Throughout the Capitol, issues are transferring even slower. The Democratic-controlled Senate voted solely thrice in all the month of January. In the course of the first month of 2017, the Senate voted 35 occasions; in 2015, it voted 46 occasions.
“This actually is an extremely slow begin,” stated Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D. “There’s not a lot happening.”
Final week, the Senate held a vote on a measure to designate January as “Nationwide Stalking Consciousness Month” — which confronted no opposition and might have been adopted immediately. However the chamber apparently had nothing to try this day and wanted to fill the time.
On Tuesday, normally one of many busiest days of the legislative week, the Senate didn’t vote in any respect. And on Wednesday, the Senate voted on a decision declaring January as “Nationwide Trafficking and Fashionable Slavery Prevention Month.” The vote was 97 to 0, indicating once more that a recorded vote was pointless; the chamber might have permitted it by unanimous consent.
“This week we got here out firmly towards stalkers. Immediately, thanks to my good pal Senator Schumer, we got here out firmly towards traffickers,” mocked Sen. John Kennedy, R-La. “I’ve heard a rumor — I don’t know if it’s true, however I believe Chuck tomorrow is going to ask us to come out firmly towards pedophiles. It’s been a busy week.”
“The mind-boggling tempo of the Senate starting of this yr is actually astonishing,” quipped Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “I don’t assume I’ve ever seen a slower starting that began a new Congress within the Senate.”
On Wednesday, six days after Senate Democrats introduced their committee assignments, Senate Republicans adopted swimsuit. Majority Chief Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., stated Wednesday the delay was as a result of the GOP committee course of was “a little extra cumbersome than ours” and that he’s “very hopeful” that the committees could be formally put collectively on Thursday.
One of many holdups: Freshman Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Mo., wished a coveted seat on the Judiciary Committee. However there’s already a Missouri Republican on that panel and not sufficient seats. His colleagues declined to grant him a waiver or vacate a seat for him.
The Home is usually extra unruly than the Senate. However the previous few weeks have been significantly unfocused within the decrease chamber.
A lot of the distraction has come from one man, freshman Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., who has been sparring with the media on a each day foundation over his quite a few fabrications and elaborations about his resume and private biography.
McCarthy will get questions on Santos at almost each information convention, and his GOP colleagues are continuously peppered with questions concerning the seemingly serial liar within the hallways as nicely. On Wednesday, NBC Information confirmed that the FBI is investigating Santos’ position in a fundraising scheme involving a disabled Navy veteran’s dying service canine.
This week, Home Republicans had to delay a vote to take away Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from the Overseas Affairs Committee as a result of the panel wasn’t arrange but.
“It seems like a Seinfeld skit,” stated Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Pa.
Not everybody on the Hill agrees nothing is getting achieved. Requested concerning the snail’s tempo of the Congress, Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., pulled out his pocket book the place he had scribbled down a listing of measures handed by the Home in latest weeks: creating a choose committee on China competitiveness, banning gross sales to China from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, ending the general public well being emergency on Covid-19 and forcing federal employees to return to the workplace.
“Did the 117th actually cross six substantial items of laws, 4 of them bipartisan and a variety of them with a respectable likelihood to get enacted into legislation?” he requested.
In the meantime, a routine organizational assembly of the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday devolved into a almost hourlong debate over the Pledge of Allegiance. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., supplied an modification that may permit members to invite “inspirational constituents” to lead the pledge earlier than every committee listening to.
However Democrats objected, with Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., unsuccessfully attempting to amend Gaetz’s modification to clarify that “insurrectionists” who backed Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election couldn’t lead the pledge.
Yelling between Republicans and Democrats ensued. Then, the Home GOP’s official Twitter account tweeted out the outdated 1892 model of the Pledge of Allegiance, which was written by New York socialist Francis Bellamy.
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”