For the first time in months, House Republicans are facing no immediate cataclysmic deadlines, and GOP leaders are struggling to come up with an agenda to fill the 19 legislative days that are left in 2013. Need evidence? The House votes Monday evening and will finish its work week Wednesday. After that, the House is out of session until Nov. 12. Internally, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and senior Republicans aren't discussing coming back early from the scheduled recess, but instead, they are wondering if they'll cancel some of the remaining days in session.
This Politico item was published yesterday, so there are really only 18 legislative days remaining until New Year's Eve -- it's great work if you can get it -- a total which may be poised to shrink.
The 112th Congress was the least productive since the clerk's office started keeping track seven decades ago, and this current 113th Congress is on track to do even less. Presumably, the Republican majority could at least try to take up meaningful bills in the hopes of passing something, but at this point, they're not even inclined to bother. Rather, they're thinking about showing up to work even less.
What about the House Republican policy agenda? It apparently doesn't exist. What about the desire to have some legislative accomplishments? It's been overwhelmed by political lethargy. This crop of lawmakers is giving new meaning to the phrase "do-nothing Congress," and instead of scurrying to prove themselves capable of governing, they're content to just accept the label and go home.
As pathetic as this may be, the larger point isn't just to point and laugh at the House's ineptitude. Rather, one of the key takeaways of this is that House Republicans keep saying they'd love to tackle immigration reform -- if only they had more time.
The problem, of course, is not with a lack of time, but rather what they choose to do with it.
I'm reminded of an item from two weeks ago, when Byron York quoted a Senate Republican staffer commenting on the House GOP. "They are a majority party that wants to be a minority party," the aide said.
The evidence to bolster that thesis is increasingly apparent. There is such a thing as a governing party. It just so happens that the House Republican conference isn't one of them. For those in doubt, look no further than the fact that these lawmakers have accomplished practically nothing this year, and are apparently so exhausted by their failures that they'd prefer to start working even less.