Do-Nothing Congress on Five-Week Recess
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Posted by: Lindsey Johnson
Many conservatives who believe "no
legislation is good legislation,” after years of Congress passing laws that
created an anti-business government bogged down by too many rules and regulations,
may rejoice in the inaction of our current Do-Nothing Congress. Others may feel
the opposite and lament Congress’ inability to get things done. But either way,
there’s no arguing that it’s been a slow year for Congress, with a lot of partisan
bickering and no real success achieved on the issues.
Congress is now home campaigning
for reelection at a time when a recent Washington
Post poll stated that 51 percent of Americans are unhappy with their own
elected Congress members. That’s an all-time-high level of dissatisfaction. It’s
higher than the 45 percent dissatisfaction level in 1994 when Republicans swept
the Democrats out of office. The D.C. rumor mill is giving the Senate to
Republicans by a small majority, but it may be a majority that’s too small to
Efforts earlier in the year to
pass big-ticket measures — such as overhauling the tax code, raising the
minimum wage and extending long-term unemployment insurance — went nowhere.
There was a last-minute flurry of
legislative action on the House and Senate floors, with Congress completing
work on the Highway bill. The Senate bowed to the demands of the House and went
along with a $10.8 billion measure to replenish the depleted Highway Trust Fund
from the General Revenue Account, which should be enough to keep the fund
afloat until May 2015.
This action ensured continuation
of the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, a sub-fund of the Highway
Trust Fund, at current program levels. Many Senate Democrats and Republicans favored
a shorter-term extension of funding highway programs until December 31 that
would’ve forced Congress to adopt a multi-year, comprehensive bill.
Little work has been done to pass
the 13 fiscal 2015 spending bills that must be approved by September in order to
avoid another government shutdown.
According to Senate Democratic
staff, Congress is again looking at a large omnibus appropriations bill to fund
the federal government in one vote. There may even be short-term extensions to
keep the government operating past the September 30 end to the 2014 Fiscal Year.
Congress does not appear any closer to resolving differences over reauthorizing
the Export-Import Bank, which is important to many businesses that have
international markets for their products.
In addition, the Senate has been
sitting on several bills passed by the House of Representatives that would be
good for the economy. One bill would make permanent the Research and Development
Tax Credit, and one would permanently allow small businesses to immediately
deduct the cost of purchasing new equipment and property. MRAA continues pushing
for the permanent tax credit for sales tax deductions on major purchases, as
well as repeal of the Estate (death) Tax.
Congress returns Sept. 8 to a
full plate of priority legislation. Now, during the current recess, is a good
time to meet with your Congressmen and Senators at home to discuss important
business and boating issues.