The U.S. Congress went on vacation for five weeks, postponing decisions on urgent matters. During this vacation period, much longer than that of the average American, lawmakers will set aside bills that are important to the country and urgent for millions of people in exchange for time off for politics, fundraising, traveling and resting.
Once again, ideological differences between Democrats and Republicans have brought numerous bills to a standstill-bills whose possibility of getting approved after the recess will be more remote in September as re-election day approaches.
The only agreement the Republican-led House of Representatives and the Democrat-led Senate reached was a budget extension until next year. This allows them to avoid the now characteristic end-of-year confrontation on this issue between the parties to see who blinks first.
That is as far as the concerns of the House went when members voted on Thursday in favor of their vacations. As a result, bills like the renewal of the farm law-today more urgent than ever given the drought in the center of the country-and a cyber-security bill to protect power grids, water deposits and other facilities from cyber-attacks were left hanging. Other pending bills are the Postal Service rescue, the Violence Against Women Act and a ratification to lift Cold War-era trade restrictions with Russia.
In reality, the leaders of the lower chamber act according to their theory that a good federal government is the one that governs least.
That is why the House’s legislative calendar has been scheduled for a 32-week session, 10 weeks working in the home districts and 10 weeks of vacation. Let’s not forget that for the past few years, a workweek in Washington is in practice three days, because Mondays and Fridays are considered travel days from and to the district.
All of this for more than $174,000 per year, plus expenses and an enviable health insurance. Not bad. The problem is that taxpayers who make less and work more than lawmakers are the ones paying these salaries.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the reputation of the U.S. Congress is extremely low. It is also not unusual that the Republican sector, which is usually a bitter critic of government ineffectiveness, is also the example of that lack of ability.