Congress began its traditional summer recess this week. As the politicians relax from their inactivity, their to-do list awaits their return. There was one item that they forgot to do before the break: cancel it.
The annual August recess provides Congress with an opportunity to leave Washington, D.C., and spend time back home. This allows senators and representatives to relax with family and meet with constituents. The five-week break will end when Congress reconvenes in September.
While vacations give a reprieve from hard work, the 113th Congress is on track to be the most unproductive ever. The number of laws signed to date totals 15 and only one dealt with appropriations. Congress did manage to pass a bill lowering student loan interest rates but that is awaiting President Obama’s signature.
The lack of production has led to a very long to-do list for Congress, which includes resolving immigration reform and a farm bill. It also includes spending bills due before the October 1 start of the new fiscal year. This gives Congress nine days to work through partisanship and gridlock to complete its’ tasks. Based on past performance, it won’t meet its’ deadlines.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) is already recommending using a continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown in October. This indicates that Americans should not expect any budget agreement before the new fiscal year. Harry Reid (D-Nev) has yet to reply to Boehner’s statement.
With over 75% of Americans disapproving of Congress’ performance, the break is the last thing that is needed. Republican and Democrat leaders should have remained in Washington to negotiate on the bills and trim down their to-do list. The extra time may not have resolved all of the issues but it would have looked better to the nation.