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Do-Nothing Congress on Five-Week Recess

Saturday, August 09, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lindsey Johnson
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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 govern effectively.

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.