When congressional homework and playtime are at odds

When congressional homework and playtime are at odds
When congressional homework and playtime are at odds
Associated Press

Back in March, just two months into the new Congress, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) conceded that he had a small problem. He’d been assigned the task of working on loan guarantees for clean-energy companies, and was supposed to write legislation. But that never happened – Kelly got distracted.

His spokesperson said at the time, “It was a priority, and it remains an issue of interest. But Mike’s efforts shifted when he chose to focus more on holding the administration accountable with regards to Fast and Furious. And then when the Benghazi tragedy occurred, that took the cake.”

In other words, there was real work to do, but the Pennsylvania Republican couldn’t get to it because he decided made-up political “scandals” were a better use of his time.

Six months later, those attitudes continue to dominate the House GOP’s thinking.

Republicans on Capitol Hill are acknowledging that the fall’s looming fiscal fights could peel attention away from their investigation into the IRS’s singling out of conservative groups. […]

But Republicans have also made the IRS investigation a key part of their recent political message, at a time when the agency is trying to implement the Democratic healthcare law that conservatives are itching to defund. The controversy has also helped revive a Tea Party movement that had been flagging in recent months.

With all that in mind, GOP aides stress that the congressional investigation into the IRS will be moving full speed ahead, even as a potential debt default takes up much of the oxygen in the halls of Congress.

This will, by the way, include even more hearings into the discredited controversy.

John Feehery, a GOP strategist, told The Hill that Republicans “have to make the connection” between the non-existent IRS story and the Affordable Care Act “because it’s so hot right now.”

Oh for crying out loud.

Look, the House of Representatives is in session only nine days this month. Nine. Congress just took a four-week break, but the Republican-led lower chamber apparently wants to ease back into their work schedule.

On the to-do list? A budget crisis, a debt-ceiling crisis, a farm bill, immigration reform, appropriations bills, and fixing the Voting Rights Act. It’s simply unrealistic to think the dysfunctional House will complete all of these tasks, or even most of them, anytime soon, though a couple of these are non-optional.

But despite all of this work that remains undone, much of which should have been completed before the August recess, House GOP leaders are still eager to invest time and energy in a “scandal” that no longer makes any sense. Why? Apparently because it’s “so hot right now.”

It reminds me a lot of a child who prioritizes playtime over homework. Sure, the homework is important, but it’s not nearly as fun or satisfying as playing – so the child decides some of the homework just won’t get done.

Republicans remain a post-policy party. They have real work to do, which they will neglect because their shiny plaything has a firm grip on their limited attention span.