Your Opinion: Congress on break while crisis looms
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Congressional favorability is consistently in the basement, lower than head lice, cockroaches and colonoscopies. The conventional wisdom is that this disdain for Congress is directed at everyone else’s representative not ours, though there are indications that the frustration is now crossing that line as well.
What confuses me is that our senators and House members are on a 10-day break, while another “crash and burn” deadline approaches. Didn’t they just return from break? The disappointment arises from the schedule for the House, set by the speaker at the opening of each session. Speaker Boehner, R-Ohio, scheduled a grand total of 129 working days for 2013 after scheduling only 120 in 2012. Though not dramatically longer, Speaker Pelosi scheduled 164 working days for the first year of the 110th Congress and 35 working days is 35 working days. By contrast, Senatorial Leader Reid, DNevada, scheduled 190 working days for 2013.
Essentially, in early May based upon a five-day work week, the work year is done for Congressman Luetkemeyer and all of our House members. And for this we pay him and each member of Congress $170,000. What a sweet deal while we Americans wonder how they will address the Sequester with its across-the-board cuts to defense, education or any number of programs that you may not recognize as important until the impact crashes upon us.
The CBO estimates as many as 1,000,000 jobs could be lost if this happens. Of course, Speaker Boehner’s response and Congressman Luetkemeyer’s seems to be, “So be it!”
As to blame, the House passed the Sequester Bill by 269-161, twice as many votes coming from Republicans. This is the vote that inspired Speaker Boehner to brag that he got 98 percent of what he wanted. The Senate passed it by 74-26, so everyone has their fingerprints on this legislation.
I called Congressman Luetkemeyer inquiring why he was coming home as we approach another “cliff”. The response was that the speaker set the schedule. Clearly, governing is not as important as getting home to raise more money for the next election and Congressman Luetkemeyer could not be troubled with questioning his leader or his party on this decision.
I understand the need to communicate with constituents but most of us would prefer our legislators get their work done first. We cannot continue to ignore this constant pressure upon Democrats and Republicans to raise money for the next race.