Why Walsh's House of Representatives is the Worst Ever
Incompotent, Lazy, and Corrupt: welcome to Jim Walsh's right wing House of Representatives.
The best expose on the subject lately is this month's Rolling Stone lead story.
Two factoids stuck out:
- Why does Walsh come home every weekend? The typical workweek on the Hill begins late on Tuesday and ends just after noon on Thursday,
- The 109th Congress will set the all-time record for fewest days worked by a U.S. Congress: ninety-three. That is a $165,000 paycheck for three months work.
A more detailed summary follows...
- Walsh likes to brag that he is "home every weekend". And they are long weekends:
- "Congress has arranged things now so that the typical workweek on the Hill begins late on Tuesday and ends just after noon on Thursday, to give members time to go home for the four-day weekend. This is borne out in the numbers: On nine of its "workdays" this year, the House held not a single vote -- meeting for less than eleven minutes."
- So how many days a year does Jimbo work, anyway?
- "In the Sixties and Seventies, Congress met an average of 162 days a year. In the Eighties and Nineties, the average went down to 139 days. This year, the second session of the 109th Congress will set the all-time record for fewest days worked by a U.S. Congress: ninety-three. That means that House members will collect their $165,000 paychecks for only three months of actual work."
- Walsh is a senior member of the Appropriations comittee. Are things running smoothly in that department?
- "By leaving so many appropriations bills unpassed by the beginning of the new fiscal year, Congress forces big chunks of the government to rely on "continuing resolutions" for their funding. Why is this a problem? Because under congressional rules, CRs are funded at the lowest of three levels: the level approved by the House, the level approved by the Senate or the level approved from the previous year. Thanks to wide discrepancies between House and Senate appropriations for social programming, CRs effectively operate as a backdoor way to slash social programs...
the reliance on CRs "leaves programs underfunded."
- (The appropriations bills) "winds up rolling them all into one giant monstrosity known as an Omnibus bill and passing it with little or no debate. Rolling eight-elevenths of all federal spending into a single bill that hits the floor a day or two before the fiscal year ends does not leave much room to check the fine print.
- Walsh says he is "a moderate", yet is a loyal supporter of the Republican leadership that freezes out the Democrats. Question: What the heck is moderate about that??
- The Republicans exclude "Democrats from the conference hearings needed to iron out the differences between House and Senate versions of a bill. According to the rules, conferences have to include at least one public, open meeting. But in the Bush years, Republicans have managed the conference issue with some of the most mind-blowingly juvenile behavior seen in any parliament west of the Russian Duma after happy hour. GOP chairmen routinely call a meeting, bring the press in for a photo op and then promptly shut the proceedings down. "Take a picture, wait five minutes, gavel it out -- all for show" is how one Democratic staffer described the process. Then, amazingly, the Republicans sneak off to hold the real conference, forcing the Democrats to turn amateur detective and go searching the Capitol grounds for the meeting. "More often than not, we're trying to figure out where the conference is," says one House aide. In one legendary incident, Rep. Charles Rangel went searching for a secret conference being held by Thomas."
- "there is little or no open debate and virtually no votes are left to chance; all the important decisions are made in backroom deals, and what you see on C-Span is just empty theater,"
- (Democrats) "consider themselves lucky if they manage to hold a single hearing on a bill before Rove's well-oiled legislative machine delivers it up for Bush's signature."
- (Another example of freezing Democrats) "just before midnight on July 17th, 2003, when (Comittee chairman) Thomas dumped a "substitute" pension bill on Democrats -- one that they had never read -- and informed them they would be voting on it the next morning. Infuriated, Democrats stalled by demanding that the bill be read out line by line while they recessed to a side room to confer. But Thomas wanted to move forward -- so he called the Capitol police to evict the Democrats.
- To ensure that Democrats can't alter any of the last-minute changes, Republicans have overseen a monstrous increase in the number of "closed" rules -- bills that go to the floor for a vote without any possibility of amendment. In 1977, when Democrats held a majority in the House, eighty-five percent of all bills were open to amendment. Of the 111 rules introduced in the first session of this Congress, only twelve were open. In the second session of this Congress? Not a single open rule, outside of appropriation votes."
Otherwise vote Dan Maffei, the overwhelming winner of Monday nights Debate at Maxwell!