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  • Do-Nothing Congress

    by Representative Daniel T. Kildee

    Posted on 2013-12-12

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    KILDEE. Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, this Republican-controlled Congress has been one of the least productive Congresses in modern times. Recently, the Speaker of the House actually said, ``We've done our work.'' This year we passed only 56 bills. That is sad and that is wrong. And this month, we are in session here on this floor for only 8 days.

    Important issues continue to pile up, unresolved and unanswered. And yet tomorrow, we are getting ready to leave for the rest of the year, even as the Senate will continue to work on behalf of the American people. The list of what we have not done is much longer than what we have passed. We need to stay here and get the work of the American people done.

    We haven't taken up a jobs and infrastructure bill. We could do that next week.

    We have not passed a long-term budget deal that tackles the big issues that we face.

    We have not voted on comprehensive immigration reform, despite the fact that a majority would support immigration reform. All we need to do is bring it to the floor. We could do that next week.

    We haven't done our work to extend unemployment compensation for 1.3 million Americans who will lose their benefits on December 28, yet we are going to leave this body having failed to act to protect the livelihood of 1.3 million Americans. That is just wrong.

    We haven't considered raising the minimum wage, despite the economic [[Page H7696]] boon that it would be to give millions of working class people more purchasing power, supporting business, and supporting economic growth.

    And we have a bipartisan farm bill. Sure it has got some problems. I don't know how everybody would vote on it, but it ought to come to the floor of the House for a ``yes'' or ``no'' vote. We could do that next week.

    The list goes on. Unfortunately, it is completely fair to characterize this Republican-led House as a do-nothing Congress. Sometimes, though, it seems as though the things we have actually done have only made things worse.

    In March, we allowed the harmful across-the-board sequester cuts to go into effect. Nobody here tried to stop them. On our side, we tried to stop them. Nobody did anything on the other side. Those draconian cuts went into effect, slowed economic growth, and cost hundreds of thousands of Americans their jobs.

    In October, the gridlock and dysfunction shut down the Federal Government for 2 weeks--the first such shutdown in two decades. That cost this economy $24 billion. We can't let that happen in the future.

    I am only a freshman, just finishing my first year in Congress, but I can tell you one thing I know: this is no way to run this government. We have got to get back to legislating, doing the work of the American people, the way the Framers of this government intended it to be done.

    {time} 1030 We can just kind of go back. Some of you might remember ``Schoolhouse Rock,'' how a bill becomes a law. The House passes a bill, the Senate does its work, passes a bill, we go to conference, we work out the differences, and send that on to the President for his signature or for a veto. That is the way we legislate.

    Yet, we continue to lurch from crisis to crisis and not let the will of the American people be manifest in the laws that we write. My constituents, and all Americans, deserve a Congress that is serious about the work of the American people and ready to get to work to grow our economy, to support manufacturing, to strengthen the middle class.

    I am ready to work in a bipartisan fashion. I think most of us are here to take on these big problems that our country faces. Now is not the time for more dithering or delay. Now is certainly not the time for a vacation.

    Look, I would love to be able to go home and spend the next couple of weeks with my family. You know, we spend a lot of time away from home. But the folks that we represent expect us to get our work done.

    So I, Mr. Speaker, am one who is willing to just stay here. Let's come back to work on Monday, and let's stay here until we get this important work done.

    Let's take the Make It In America agenda to support American manufacturing; let's bring it to the floor. You don't want to vote for it, don't vote for it. But we ought to consider these important pieces of legislation that are important to our economy and not leave town without taking up the important work that we are charged with doing.

    I represent Flint, Saginaw, Bay City, older industrial cities that helped build the manufacturing base of our economy. They depend on the Congress to do the work that we were sent here to do. We shouldn't go home. We should stay here and finish our work.


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