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Worst. Congress. Ever.


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A year ago, I assigned myself to the Capitol to cover the new House Republican majority, suspecting that this erratic crowd of lawmakers would provide some lively material.

They did not disappoint. What I could not have known then, however, was that this would turn out to be the most ineffective session of Congress in nearly a century — and quite possibly in all of American history.

The year began with chaos and incompetence. It ended with chaos and incompetence. In between were self-created crises and shocking moments of fratricide — interspersed with more chaos and incompetence.

“This will go down as ... the least productive Congress since the Great Depression,” Rep. Joe Neguse, Democrat of Colorado, observed this week as the Rules Committee marked up plans for an impeachment inquiry into President Biden for imaginary crimes.

Neguse almost certainly understates the case. While it’s true, as HuffPost’s Jonathan Nicholson pointed out, that Congress got even less done in 1931, this is only because it didn’t start its session that year until December. It seems probable that no Congress in American history has spent so much time accomplishing so little as this one.

What do House Republicans have to show the voters for their year in power? A bipartisan debt deal (on which they promptly reneged) to avoid a default crisis that they themselves created. A pair of temporary spending bills (both passed with mostly Democratic votes) to avert a government-shutdown crisis that they themselves created. The ouster of their speaker, nearly a month-long shutdown of the chamber as they sought another, and the expulsion of one of their members, who is now negotiating himself a plea deal.

Among the 22 bills in 2023 that became law as of this week was landmark legislation such as: H.R. 3672, “To designate the clinic of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Indian River, Michigan, as the ‘Pfc. Justin T. Paton Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic.’” Also, H.R. 5110, the “Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act,” which authorizes federal education funds “to purchase or use dangerous weapons” for instruction.

On Thursday, the House, exhausted from its labors, recessed for a three-week vacation, leaving behind a pile of urgent, unfinished business, including funds to arm Ukraine and fortify the southern border. When the lawmakers return, they will have just eight legislative days to pass something to avoid the latest government shutdown — on which they have made no progress so far. But before rushing home for the holidays, Republicans did manage to approve, in a party-line vote, a formal impeachment inquiry into Biden for imaginary crimes that even they could not identify.

“It’s been an up-and-down year,” Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana said in a year-end news conference. (He was half right.) “I know for those of you in the press, there’s never been a week where it was boring for you.” (This was true.) “Next year is going to be just as busy,” he went on. (That shouldn’t be hard.) He acknowledged, “There’s talk about how hard it’s been,” but he blamed the Democratic Senate for the inaction.

Nice try. This Senate, with a similar majority, was highly productive in the last Congress. And Congress, even under divided government, has routinely found ways to function — until this gang took over the House.

The final week was typical. In the Senate, Democrats and Republicans feverishly negotiated a compromise that would allow the United States to keep sending arms to help Ukraine fight off Russia’s invasion while also toughening U.S. border policies. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pleaded with Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) to keep his chamber in session so that the emergency spending package could be passed before year-end. Johnson refused — prompting Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to say it would be “practically impossible” to pass the desperately needed bill.

Likewise, Johnson, who, as Punchbowl News noted, has proved to be “unwilling or unable to make tough decisions,” couldn’t decide which of two competing bills the House should pass to reauthorize a program known as Section 702 that falls under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and is vital to national security. So he scheduled House votes on both of them — which caused the House Republican Caucus to devolve Monday night into yet another round of bickering, with Rep. Warren Davidson (Ohio) accusing Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner of “f---ing lying.” Once again paralyzed, House GOP leaders yanked both bills from consideration on the floor. Instead, they moved on to the Duck Stamp Modernization Act of 2023 — no doubt a matter of great importance to waterfowl hunters.

The dysfunction shows every sign that it will continue in the new year. The House Freedom Caucus, whose members routinely kneecapped Republican leaders and derailed proceedings in the House in 2023, just elected as their new leader Rep. Bob Good (Va.), one of the most doctrinaire members of the caucus and one of the eight Republicans who ousted Kevin McCarthy as speaker. Davidson, in a letter to colleagues intercepted by Axios’s Juliegrace Brufke, alluded to Good’s bomb-throwing tendencies and asked that the group “prayerfully consider electing someone else.” They went with the legislative terrorist anyway.

As a holiday gift, Freedom Caucus members lobbed one more bomb on the final day of the session. They were furious that their various attempts to ignite culture wars over abortion policy and LGBTQ+ rights had been stripped from the annual National Defense Authorization Act in negotiations with the Senate. So Chip Roy (Tex.) and 22 other Republicans delayed its passage by forcing a vote to adjourn. The bill passed anyway — as usual, with mostly Democratic votes.

As the year ends, Ukraine will have to wait for more ammo. The federal government will have to wait for its 2024 funding to be settled. But there was one priority so urgent that it absolutely could not wait until after vacation, and it united every single Republican in the caucus. The day before skipping town, they voted in an entirely party-line vote of 221-212 to put the House on an all-but-inevitable course toward impeaching Biden for the high crime and misdemeanor of having a drug-addicted son.

A mere six weeks ago, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (Ky.) said he would be bringing in the remaining witnesses in his impeachment probe, including Hunter Biden, “for depositions or committee hearings, whichever they choose.”

On Wednesday morning, Hunter Biden pulled into the Capitol driveway and stood on a patio called the Senate Swamp. “Here I am, Mr. Chairman, taking up your offer, when you said we can bring these people in for depositions or committee hearings, whichever they choose,” the president’s son said in front of the cameras. “Well, I’ve chosen. I am here to testify at a public hearing.”

But Comer had changed his mind. Now he would allow the younger Biden only to appear in a secret deposition from which the chairman could cherry-pick. “The president’s son does not get to set the rules,” Comer complained to reporters after Biden’s remarks. Soon thereafter, Comer and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan announced “contempt of Congress proceedings” against Biden for the offense of insisting that his testimony be in public.

What were they trying to prevent Americans from seeing? That “my father was not financially involved in my business,” as Hunter Biden declared outside the Capitol? That “MAGA Republicans” have taken “the light of my dad’s love for me and presented it as darkness”?

The perpetually paranoid Jordan found even those words to be evidence of guilt. “He said his father was not financially involved in the business, and I think that qualifier, the word ‘financially,’ is important,” Jordan said, conspiratorially. Did Jordan suppose the elder Biden was romantically involved in his son’s businesses? Emotionally involved? IMPEACH!

As for his insistence that Hunter Biden testify in secret, Comer said, “This has been, I think, the most transparent, political — er, congressional investigation.”

Nothing says “transparent” quite like a closed-door deposition. “On this show, we’ve been calling for Hunter to go and sit in a chair on Capitol Hill in front of the TV cameras for the last year,” co-host Steve Doocy said on “Fox & Friends” this week. “Now, Hunter’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, says he will do that, but Comer and Jim Jordan say, no, it’s not negotiable, he’s got to be in private.”

That’s not all the normally MAGA-friendly host had to say. “It looks like they’ve got the goods on Hunter Biden, but the Republicans have not made the case yet where Joe Biden profited from it,” he told Fox News viewers. “They haven’t explained how it implicates Joe,” he added, and “they have not shown Joe Biden did anything illegal.”

Several Senate Republicans share those doubts about the House race to impeach. “I don’t see the grounds,” Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) told Politico’s Anthony Adragna.

“There’s been no evidence provided to the public yet or certainly to me to suggest an impeachment inquiry or impeachment itself is justified,” said Mitt Romney (Utah).

“You’re not going to have this president impeached based on the evidence that we’ve seen,” offered Lisa Murkowski (Alaska).

Chuck Grassley of Iowa told CNN’s Manu Raju on Wednesday that “the facts haven’t taken me to that point where I can say the president is guilty of anything.”

In their candid moments, House Republicans admit as much. Just a month ago, Johnson told his caucus that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to start formal impeachment proceedings. Reps. Ken Buck (Colo.), Mike McCaul (Tex.), Don Bacon (Neb.) Lisa C. McClain (Mich.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), John Curtis (Utah), Dusty Johnson (S.D.) and others also had doubts about the evidence produced — but every one of them voted for the impeachment circus to proceed.

They had no choice. Trump ordered it. “Either IMPEACH the BUM, or fade into OBLIVION. THEY DID IT TO US!” he ordered them in August. He made it explicit in September that impeaching Biden was about nothing more than revenge: “Had they not done it to me,” then “perhaps you wouldn’t have it being done to them.”

Republicans from competitive districts tripped over themselves to say they were not voting for impeachment. But they were very likely teeing up at least a House vote to impeach Biden, because hard-liners aren’t about to shut down their impeachment inquiry empty-handed.

At Tuesday’s debate on the impeachment resolution before the Rules Committee, Democrats exhausted their thesauruses in denouncing the move: Sham, stunt, ludicrous, lie, pathetic joke, colossal waste of time. “We are here because Donald Trump ordered you to be here,” said the ranking Democrat, Jim McGovern (Mass.).

Republicans didn’t really try to conceal that they were acting out of vengeance for Trump’s impeachments. “You can’t say that what was good enough for President Trump is no longer good enough for President Biden,” said Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (Pa.). “So the Democrats shifted the standard. Frankly, now, impeachment — you could view it as almost a political exercise.” He later elaborated: “Now we have a situation where impeachment, the standard of impeachment has been lowered to such a degree that, again, it’s merely, at this point, a political exercise. Not that this is a political exercise.”

Of course not!

Pressed by Neguse to say which specific crime the Biden inquiry was investigating, Reschenthaler had no answer.

Members of the majority on the panel made their case with a series of out-of-context insinuations. They pointed out that Joe Biden met his son’s business partners — while omitting that, according to testimony, they exchanged only pleasantries. They condemned Biden for using an email “pseudonym” — ignoring that this is a common, fully regulated practice in the White House to avoid spam that would be sent to obvious email addresses such as, say, joe.biden@whitehouse.gov. They tut-tutted about the $14 million from foreign interests they said Biden family members received — while neglecting to mention the billions of foreign dollars that similarly flowed to Trump family members.

To this, the Republicans added extraneous insults. Rep. Ralph Norman (S.C.) alleged that Biden is “cognitively gone,” saying, “The man is not there. ... He doesn’t know where he is.” And yet at the same time Republicans allege that he is the mastermind of the greatest political scandal in U.S. history.

The debate on the House floor was no more illuminating. Comer, keeping his place in his speech with his finger, prattled on about “schemes” and “shell companies.”

Norman offered a novel twist on the whole innocent-until-proven-guilty concept. “You cannot, just not, uh, say you are innocent and not have to prove it,” he told the House.

Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez (N.M.) spoke about Jill and Joe Biden trying to help Hunter with his drug addiction, such as with payments for his truck. “Shame on my colleagues for politicizing a parent’s pain,” she said.

On the Republican side, Norman, Erin Houchin (Ind.) and Byron Donalds (Fla.) all laughed out loud at this.

And, as usual, the Republicans cited the sins of the son as justification for impeaching the father. “The son of the president of the United States is a tax cheat!” Donalds thundered. The Congressional Record from Wednesday’s debate contained 61 mentions of Hunter by name.

“You’ll notice,” McGovern responded, “my Republican friends never talk about Joe Biden. It’s all Hunter Biden.”

Donalds, ignoring House rules, heckled McGovern, shouting, “Didn’t I just say Joe Biden?” The presiding officer did nothing.

Democrat Eric Swalwell (Calif.) congratulated Republicans for their dogged pursuit of the president’s son. “I want to give James Comer some credit,” he told the House, “because after 50,000 pages of depositions and secret hearings and closed hearings, I think if we give him enough time, he is going to prove that Hunter Biden is Joe Biden’s son.”

After the do-nothingest congressional session in U.S. history, that might go down as their most notable achievement.


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10 minutes ago, CoffeeTiger said:

Unfortunately, A lot of Republican WANT the GOP to do exactly this...nothing. 

"doing nothing" is a legitimate, intentional strategy for todays GOP.


Yep.  But they'd prefer to do away with government altogether.

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26 minutes ago, CoffeeTiger said:

Unfortunately, A lot of Republican WANT the GOP to do exactly this...nothing. 

"doing nothing" is a legitimate, intentional strategy for todays GOP.



Doing nothing is more often less damaging then what our government does regularly.

Not always. But often.

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The power and money in our system is in having the problem, not providing the solution. 

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1 hour ago, homersapien said:

Sorry, but I don't understand your point. 

Simple. Politicians campaign almost entirely on fear. Just got a flyer from my Congressman today. His whole message: “our community is being overrun by dangerous criminal immigrants and if you don’t vote for me you are in danger.” (Paraphrased). No mention of what he wants to build, create, or inspire. If there’s no crisis, he has no platform to run on. 

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4 minutes ago, Gowebb11 said:

Simple. Politicians campaign almost entirely on fear. Just got a flyer from my Congressman today. His whole message: “our community is being overrun by dangerous criminal immigrants and if you don’t vote for me you are in danger.” (Paraphrased). No mention of what he wants to build, create, or inspire. If there’s no crisis, he has no platform to run on. 

Thanks. The word "having" is what threw me.

Edited by homersapien
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