Democratic Congress Ends With A Whimper
The Democrats’ four-year control of the House of Representatives crawled to an end with the passage of a short-term spending bill, which will allow Republicans to set the government funding levels in the new year.
On Tuesday night, The House passed the Continuing Resolution (CR) by a vote of 193-165. The Senate passed it by 79-16 earlier in the day. After being signed by President Obama, the CR will fund the government at 2010 spending levels until until March 4.
The House will adjourn on Wednesday after voting on the 9/11 Health Bill. The Senate will close up shop for the year after a final vote on the START Treaty.
The short-term CR was a victory for Republicans because government spending levels and priorities will be set by the new GOP-controlled House. The House Democrats passed a CR, which set their priorities and spending levels through the fiscal year, which ends on September 30. The yearlong CR was not brought up in the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-N.V.) attempted to jam through an omnibus spending bill that funded the government through the fiscal year. The 1,924-page, earmark-filled omnibus bill was blocked by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
After Reid surrendered, McConnell offered a short-term CR. “Once the new Congress is sworn in, we’ll have a chance to pass a less expensive bill free of wasteful spending,” said McConnell. The final 36-page CR is dated only two weeks after McConnnell’s.
On Tuesday morning, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) held his last “pen and pad” press conference as the House Majority Leader. Hoyer’s press conference was in the office which he has to vacate soon for incoming Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Whether he’s in denial or just spinning, Hoyer announced to the reporters that, “This has been the most productive Congress in which I have served.”
“They were productive with their agenda which lost them the majority,” scoffed a GOP aide. “But they failed to be productive in performing their constitutional responsibility.” The aide pointed out that the congressional Democrats never passed a budget this year, and not a single appropriations bill passed Congress.
Hoyer then gave the reporters his list of the Democratic Congress’ accomplishments over the last two years. A PowerPoint presentation on a flat-screen TV behind Hoyer’s head listed the accomplishments as he read them off a piece of paper.
He listed the accomplishment, in this order, as: the stimulus bill, the HIRE Act, Cash for Clunkers, Manufacturing Enhancement Act, Small Business Jobs Act, the tax package, statutory PAYGO, fiscal commission, weapons acquisition reform, and consumer protection on credit cards.
Only after giving that laundry list of unpopular or unknown legislation, Hoyer then mentioned ObamaCare.
“The Speaker [of the House Nancy Pelosi] refers to health reform and Wall Street reform as the two signature issues,” he said. Hoyer would have been minority leader if Pelosi had not shocked everyone by staying on in Congress after losing the House in the landslide midterm elections.
“I suggest in the lame duck you can add to that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ [repeal] and the tax bill as, certainly, very worthy of that kind of status,” added Hoyer.
The reporters put down their pens as Hoyer continued with his laundry list and PowerPoint of unremarkable legislation.
He said the other accomplishments of the 111th Congress include: Legislation to make college loans affordable, SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program), the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, child nutrition, and food safety (which did not pass the House until hours later, but has been included on his PowerPoint).
Hoyer kept going with his list: Iran sanctions, defense authorization bill (which never passed the Senate), intelligence authorization bill, border security supplemental, hate crimes bill, and the Fair Sentencing Act.
After Hoyer’s accomplishments presentation, a reporter asked what was his biggest regret of this Congress.
“I think the obvious biggest regret of the last year is we lost the majority,” said Hoyer. The outgoing Majority Leader does not see that his accomplishments — ObamaCare, stimulus spending — were the reasons that the Democrats lost the House.
He said the election loss “emanated, to some degree, from our failure to communicate. But it also, frankly, was a direct result of the economy’s falling into such a deep decline that our efforts did not act quickly enough to bring it out.”
Hoyer left the room with a half-hearted wave and said, “Peace.” And on that note, the four years of the tax and spend and spend and spend Democrats ended. Peace out, dude.