After an exhausting week of scandal-chasing, Congress is now on vacation.
Most people are cool with that, since the Republican-controlled House is shaping up to be an ineffective, hyper-partisan mess. But you knew that.
Today I want to look at what Congress has been doing.
Not their press conferences or showy hearings--which tend to distract us in the media--but what items the House is bringing to the floor. That’s where the priorities are revealed.
Speaker Boehner said, "jobs continue to be our number one priority here in congress." So you’d think the House had one over-arching priority.
But we can actually test whether Boehner’s claim is true.
Under the rules, the Speaker has total control over what legislation reaches the floor. There’s no filibuster in the House–the Speaker runs the place. If he wants a vote on a jobs bill–or ten jobs bills--he gets it.
So far, the House has racked up 183 roll call votes. I just read and tallied them all. If you remove the ones for administration and symbolic gestures, it’s down to about 150. Here are the results.
The House has spent more time on debt and sequester spending cuts than any other issue. It’s a quarter of the substantive votes!
That’s followed by votes on the Keystone Pipeline and related amendments. Republicans have touted that as a backdoor jobs plan–a Cornell study projects it would create about three to six thousand jobs.
Then the House has held some votes on disaster relief–which is politically unavoidable–the military, some education bills, edits to labor rules and a grab-bag of pet issues from repealing Obamacare to privatizing the federal helium reserve.
That last one was a hit, actually--the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act passed on a vote of 394 to 1 in April.
But we’re not here to talk about the price of helium. We were fact-checking Speaker Boehner.
Besides Keystone, it turns out that only one vote of the 183 was related to jobs–a bill to lower payment requirements in a veterans jobs program. That’s it.
So when Speaker Boehner says jobs are the number one priority–we know he’s not telling the truth. Other members can blame gridlock, but he can’t. He is gridlock.
And while he’s found time for votes to cut funding and repeal Obamacare, the numbers show he just doesn't bring jobs bills to the floor. So when it comes to addressing unemployment–our most significant problem–this Congress is on a permanent vacation, and maybe they should worry about becoming unemployed themselves.