What has Congress Left Undone? Plenty!

August 4, 2012 | By | 1 Comment

Congress has left Washington, D.C., for their annual August recess (that’s vacation to you and me) with several critical pieces of legislation left on the table. What was so inconsequential to them that they felt action on these items could wait until they returned to the capital…after over a month off?

The Christian Science Monitor reports that the following major bills have been left unfinished:

  • FARM AND FOOD PROGRAMS: Despite passing similar agriculture bills in July, the House and Senate have wasted no time in delaying further action because of partisan bickering.
  • POSTAL SERVICE OVERHAUL: With a recent default by the USPS on schedule payments for future retiree health care benefits—and another likely default just around the corner in September—Congress has taken little to no action to help the situation. A Senate bill from April made a half-hearted attempt to provide help to the failing agency, and a House plan (which includes the bold and daring move of setting up a commission to determine facility closures!) is stalled and unlikely to pass this year.
  • CYBERSECURITY: The Senate failed to pass a bill to protect the U.S. electrical grid, water supplies, and other critical services from cyberattack and electronic espionage. And while both parties insist that passing this legislation is a critical priority, deep partisan divisions over the details will make it difficult to do so. (It probably doesn’t help that Congress doesn’t require clean water because they’re busy drinking the Washington “Kool-Aid.”)
  • VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT: The one thing that one might think would have no trouble passing. I mean, who’s in favor of violence against women—besides bad people (and politicians, apparently)? Legislators have been working for months to try to resolve their differences over this legislation. Let’s see if they can manage to pull it off when they return to Washington.
  • RUSSIA TRADE: Committees in both houses have approved bills to end Cold War restrictions and extend permanent normal trade relations to Russia, something that is a top priority of U.S. business groups. In spite of the importance of the situation—and the tremendous potential for growth over the next few years—Congress left without taking up this legislation, and there is still significant resistance to improving relations with Russia

You might be tempted to react to these circumstances with anger—and outrage at the situation is not necessarily an unreasonable response. On the other hand, the hidden benefit of the situation is that many legislators will head home before they head to their parties’ nominating conventions. And during that time, they often hold town hall meetings or other discussions with their constituents. What this means for you is that you have an opportunity to voice your opinion to your representatives about how you’d like them to vote when they return to D.C. later in the year. Let your voice be heard!

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