On Friday, August 3, the United States Congress will go into recess for five weeks. Ostensibly this will provide our representatives respite from the rigors of their jobs on Capitol Hill. Keeping in mind that Congress is generally measured in two-year segments, the Congressional record we are looking at now is for the Congress of 2012 – 2nd Session. This session of Congress, as of June 30, 2012, has little to show for their days in session to date. According to the published Congressional calendar, the Senators and Representatives will resume on Sept. 10
Yes, it is true that after they resume on that date, there will be some more days of work. According to the schedule, the Senate is expecting to be in session for 51 days between September 10 and December 31, 2012. The House of Representatives is scheduled to be in session for 29 days in the same time period. That is out of 112 days before January 1, 2013.
So what has been accomplished by Congress in this session? To date, as of June 30, 2012, according to Bloomberg.com, this Congress has passed exactly 54 bills (that is both House and Senate). Of those laws passed, 14 of them were renaming post offices and other things – a court house, wildlife refuge and border patrol station. Another 16 of those laws passed were of a miscellaneous nature – improvements to the JFK Center in Washington, DC, printing coins to commemorate the US Marshalls Service, greater prosecution power against those who build tunnels into the US, a new bridge between Minnesota and Wisconsin over the St. Croix River among them. Nine laws approved real estate transactions such as promoting the development of the Southeast waterfront in Washington, DC. transferring federal land underlying municipal offices in Alta, Utah,, giving property to the city of Tracy, CA, etc., There were 6 laws that renewed existing laws that were going to expire such as National Flood Insurance extension, temporary Bankruptcy Judgeship Extension Action, and three acts collectively known as the Payroll Tax Cut Extension Act. Of the 54 laws Congress
has passed so far, 5 could be considered “Big Laws”. These include an extension $94.3 billion for infrastructure, the Export/Import Bank Reauthorization, the Stock act making it illegal for Congress to trade on inside information and the Jumpstart Act which exempts small businesses from some regulations – all serious things but only 5 to date.
No doubt Congress needs a break to figure out what to do next.