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November 27, 2014

Posts by David Eldridge

79 Posts

November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Shouldn’t Be About Wal-Mart, Says Florida Congressman

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Grayson slammed Wal-Mart for commercializing Thanksgiving Day. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ah, Thanksgiving: football, parades, turkey and stuffing, Rep. Alan Grayson going after Wal-Mart.

The Florida Democrat, who is one of the retail giant’s biggest critics on Capitol Hill, renewed what has become his annual Thanksgiving tradition Wednesday, taking on Wal-Mart for its treatment of workers.

“Thanksgiving was once a holiday reserved for spending time with our loved ones — families across America gathered around the table to enjoy a meal … and give thanks,” Grayson said in a statement.

“But Thanksgiving’s importance has faded in recent years. The holiday is now merely a precursor to Black Friday — the day in which stores like Walmart slash prices to attempt to generate larger profits for themselves, at the expense of their employees. For Walmart’s corporate owners, Thanksgiving has become ‘Black Friday Eve’ — a day to pry families apart and work employees to the bone for next to nothing in wages.”

Grayson wrapped up with a vow of support for Wal-Mart employees staging Black Friday protests of wages and working conditions across the country Wednesday.

In 2012, Grayson was escorted out of an Orlando Wal-Mart by security guards after participating in a Thanksgiving protest at the store.

After protesting Wal-Mart workers were arrested on Black Friday last year, Grayson told Salon that, “Wal-Mart is a machine that exists solely for the purpose of enriching its owners and … the top managers of Wal-Mart, and in so doing wreaks havoc on the lives of both workers and suppliers.”

 

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November 24, 2014

Boehner Reappoints Gowdy to Head Benghazi Panel

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Gowdy, left, was reappointed to his Benghazi panel role as Chaffetz said he will mount further probes into the matter. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner announced Monday he will reappoint Rep. Trey Gowdy as chairman of the Select Committee on the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya in the 114th Congress.

“On September 11, 2012, four Americans were killed in a brutal terrorist attack in Libya. Two years later, the American people still have far too many questions about what happened that night — and why,” Boehner said in a statement. “That’s why I will reappoint Rep. Trey Gowdy and the Republican members of the House Select Committee to investigate the events in Benghazi in the 114th Congress. I look forward to the definitive report Chairman Gowdy and the Select Committee will present to the American people.”

Gowdy, R-S.C., told CQ Roll Call Nov. 14 that the committee, which has maintained a low profile since its creation last spring, would meet “in public and in private” before the end of December’s lame-duck session, which is currently open-ended. Full story

November 14, 2014

Gutiérrez: There Are ’40, 50, 60′ GOP Votes in House for Immigration

gutierrez 325 072914 445x296 Gutiérrez: There Are 40, 50, 60 GOP Votes in House for Immigration

Gutierrez  wants GOP leadership to allow a House vote on an immigration bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, the Illinois Democrat who has been at the forefront of efforts to overhaul immigration in Congress, said Friday there are enough votes in the House Republican caucus now to pass a bipartisan bill.

“There are 40, 50, 60 … Republicans” who will join Democrats to pass a bill, Gutiérrez said in an appearance on MSNBC. The congressman and other Democrats, frustrated with lack of action from GOP leaders, are urging on President Barack Obama, who has indicated he will take unilateral action on immigration perhaps as early as next week.

“The problem is they won’t give us a vote on all of the wonderful work. I don’t want to mention the names of my Republican colleagues that I worked with but you know who they are,” the Illinois Democrat told MSNBC’s Jose Diaz-Balart, whose brother is a Republican congressman from Miami. “There are dozens of them.”

Diaz-Balart’s brother, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., told CQ Roll Call earlier this year that he was close to having enough Republican votes to pass a bipartisan immigration overhaul in the House that would balance GOP demands for border security with Democratic calls for legal status for the undocumented.

But Republicans backed off the issue this summer after an unprecedented surge of Central-American children and women crossing illegally into Texas and the primary loss of then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who previously had indicated some support for an overhaul.

Related:

GOP: Obama’s Immigration Action Will Cripple 2016 Democrats

Obama Hasn’t Decided When to Act on Immigration 

Ted Cruz Rallies House Conservatives to End ‘Obama’s Amnesty’

White House Excoriates GOP Deportation Demands

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November 13, 2014

McMorris Rodgers Re-Elected as GOP Conference Chairwoman

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McMorris Rodgers retains her post on the House GOP leadership team.(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers on Thursday won her second term as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.

The Washington congresswoman, the No. 4-ranked Republican in the House and the highest-ranked woman in the conference, begins her sixth term in Congress in January. Full story

November 12, 2014

Boehner, Republicans Blast ‘Job-Crushing’ Emissions Deal With China (Updated)

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Members of the United Mine Workers of America march near Freedom Plaza to protest regulations proposed by the EPA that they say would “destroy our nation’s coal industry and coal-related jobs,” and not address climate change. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 10:20 a.m. | Republicans in Washington are already pushing back hard against the carbon-emissions deal President Barack Obama and Chinese leaders announced Wednesday in Beijing.

“Job-crushing,” said Speaker John A. Boehner. Mitch McConnell, the presumed next Senate majority leader, also weighed in against the deal, which calls for the U.S. to cut emissions by as much as 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. China agreed to begin reducing its own emissions by 2030.

In a statement, Oklahoma Sen. James M. Inhofe, who will likely chair the Environment and Public Works Committee in the next Congress, called the deal a “non-binding charade.”

But Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., responding to GOP critics of the deal on MSNBC, said “the president doesn’t need the Congress” to make the agreement with China.

Full story

November 5, 2014

Steve Israel: 3 Issues Democrats, GOP Can Work on Together

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Israel said Democrats can work with the GOP on tax reform, immigration and college debt.(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sifting through the ashes of the previous day’s disappointing results, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel said Wednesday there are at least three issues on which the two parties can find common ground in the new year.

“We can come together on some key middle class, economic security issues, and that’s what has to happen now that this election is mercifully behind us,” the New York Democrat said Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“I think we need to pick three things that we can get done together,” he said. “I think it’s college debt, I think it’s immigration reform, and I think it’s reforming the tax code. We need to do this incrementally. I think both parties have a vested interest in delivering for the middle class, so I think we need to pick those three things and move forward.” Full story

November 4, 2014

Bachmann Predicts Joint Retreat for House, Senate Republicans

 Bachmann Predicts Joint Retreat for House, Senate Republicans

Bachmann likes the idea of a joint House-Senate GOP retreat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

She won’t be around to attend, but outgoing Rep. Michele Bachmann likes the idea of a joint House-Senate retreat if Republicans end up winning control of the upper chamber.

The 2012 GOP presidential contender, appearing Tuesday on Fox, told host Gretchen Carlson she thinks Republicans in the House and Senate can hammer out an agenda for the 114th Congress.

“I think you’ll see a joint retreat between the Senate and the House where we actually come together and talk about what we want to accomplish in the next two years,” said the Minnesota Republican, who is not seeking re-election this year after serving four terms in the House.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, in a recent interview with Politico, pitched the joint retreat proposal and said he and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., in an effort to tone down the partisan rancor on the Hill, have been holding private dinners with lawmakers from both parties.

Related stories:

McCarthy Offers Glimpse of GOP’s 2015 Priority: ‘Government Reform’

Retiring Bachmann Signals She’s Still In the Game

Cruz Hosts Late-Night Strategy Session With House Republicans on CR 

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October 28, 2014

Congressional Hispanic Caucus: All In on Perez for Attorney General

 

Labor 01 040913 238x335 Congressional Hispanic Caucus: All In on Perez for Attorney General

Perez (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama hasn’t yet made public his pick for a replacement for outgoing Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., but the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has: It wants current Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez to take the job.

“Secretary Perez has a proven record of championing and defending the rights of all Americans,” Chairman Rubén Hinojosa said in a statement. “The CHC supported Tom Perez in his nomination to the Department of Labor, and the Caucus will continue to support him if he is formally nominated for the position of U.S. Attorney General.”

Rep. Ben Ray Luján, the first vice chairman of the CHC, announced that group has endorsed Perez for attorney general. The endorsement comes as Obama considers a nominee to head the Department of Justice.

“The Congressional Hispanic Caucus proudly endorses Secretary Tom Perez to serve as the next Attorney General of the United States,” said Hinojosa, the Texas Democrat who chairs the 27-member caucus. “We hope Secretary Perez will be the President’s nominee of choice to head the Department of Justice.”

“Throughout a distinguished career that includes Secretary of Labor and Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Tom Perez has demonstrated a deep commitment to justice and civil rights,” said Luján, a New Mexico Democrat. “As a dedicated public servant, he has stood up for working families and advocated for the rights of all Americans — especially the most vulnerable.”

Perez, a Harvard Law School graduate who served as a deputy assistant attorney general during the Clinton administration before returning to the Justice Department in 2009, is the son of Dominican immigrants. He was confirmed as labor secretary in July 2013.

The White House said earlier this month that Obama will not name a nominee after the midterm elections.

 

Related stories:

No Attorney General Pick Until After Elections, White House Says

Obama Has Another Key DOJ Post to Fill

New Choice to Head DOJ Civil Rights Division Has Early Conservative Support

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October 22, 2014

McCarthy Calls Iran Nuclear Deal Reports ‘Worrisome’

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McCarthy: No rubber stamp on Iran nuclear talks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated, 2:27 p.m.: Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy vowed Wednesday that House Republicans will not sit idly by while the Obama administration unilaterally negotiates a resolution with Iran over that country’s nuclear program.

The Obama administration, according to news reports, is considering sweetening its offer to Iran in the ongoing negotiations, allowing the regime to operate 4,000 centrifuges, up from an earlier 1,300.

The White House and the State Department have not commented on the the reports, which originated with an Iranian news agency.

But the development has set off alarms with lawmakers like McCarthy, who called the news “worrisome.” The California Republican promised “extensive oversight” of the administration’s handling of the Iranian negotiations.

The Senate’s No. 2-ranked Republican, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, also warned the president against overstepping his authority on the Iran deal.

“The American people will not tolerate a President who wheels and deals with a radical regime behind their backs and dodges congressional oversight every chance he gets,” the Texas Republican said in a statement. “Any agreement with Iran to provide further relief from U.S. sanctions must be done in conjunction with Congress in an open and transparent way to ensure it advances America’s national security.”

Here’s McCarthy’s full statement:

Recent reports have suggested the Obama Administration believes it can negotiate a deal with Iran and provide significant sanctions relief to the Iranian regime without Congressional support. This Administration has a long record of ignoring and threatening to ignore Congress.

While this unilateralism alone is distressing, it is made even more worrisome in light of additional reports that the Administration may be willing to yet again make significant concessions to the Iranians in the nuclear negotiations. As the President and his team know full well, there is overwhelming, bipartisan concern on Capitol Hill about Iran’s nuclear and missile programs, its sponsorship of terrorism, its promotion of instability throughout the region, and its appalling human rights record. Congress will not simply look the other way if the Administration agrees to a deal that does not make sufficient progress in rolling back Iran’s nuclear program. Although the precise mechanics of Congressional approval or disapproval will depend on what exactly the President decides to do, the nature of the agreement, and a variety of other factors, I can promise that Congress will conduct extensive oversight regarding the details of any deal or extension of the current Joint Plan of Action.

Separate from the conduct of the nuclear negotiations, I remain concerned the Administration lacks an effective strategy to combat Iran’s malign influence throughout the region. Whether in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, or Yemen, Iran’s support for terrorism and its destabilizing activities threaten the interests and security of the United States and its key allies and partners in the region. I look forward to the Administration consulting with Congress about how to confront this grave threat.

Related stories:

Foreign Affairs to Examine Iran’s Nuclear Compliance

House GOP May Act on Senate Iran Sanctions Bill

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October 16, 2014

Democrats Blame Budget Battles for Fumbled Ebola Response (Updated)

ebola101614 445x296 Democrats Blame Budget Battles for Fumbled Ebola Response (Updated)

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health officials appeared before a House subcommittee Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 1:50 p.m. | Democrats at Thursday’s rare mid-recess Ebola hearing pushed back at criticism of the Obama administration’s handling of the crisis, arguing that missteps in the federal response are due in part to budget standoffs and last year’s government shutdown.

Colorado’s Diana DeGette, the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee holding the hearing, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has come under fire since the arrival of the virus in the U.S., cannot do its job adequately without proper funding from Congress.

She reiterated a key element of the Obama administration’s approach to addressing the Ebola outbreak: that efforts to contain the disease must be focused on Africa.

“There is no such thing as fortress America when it comes to disease,” she said.

California’s Henry A. Waxman, in his opening statement, echoed his Democratic colleague’s remarks, telling the panel that congressional budget fights that led to sequesters and last year’s government shutdown contributed to the problems with the U.S. response.

“We have our share of responsibility by not funding the infrastructure,” Waxman said.

“Since 2006, CDC’s budget, adjusted for inflation, has dropped by 12 percent. Funding for the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement, which supports state and local health departments preparedness activities, has been cut from $1 billion in its first year of funding in 2002 to $612 million in 2014. All of these were also subject to the sequestration. And those who allowed that sequestration to happen by closing the government have to answer to the American people, as well,” said the California Democrat, who is retiring at the end of this term.

Pennsylvania Republican Tim Murphy, chairman of the subcommittee, in his opening remarks said if additional resources are needed, federal officials need to speak up.

“The trust and credibility of the administration and government are waning as the American public loses confidence each day with demonstrated failures of the current strategy,” he said.

“If resources or authorization is needed to stop Ebola in its tracks, tell us in Congress. I pledge — and I believe this committee joins me in pledging — that we will do everything in our power to work with you to keep the American people safe from Ebola outbreak in West Africa,” he said.

 

Related:

Ebola Sparks Obama to Shake Up Leadership Style

As Ebola Crisis Escalates, Lawmakers on Both Sides Turn Up Heat

Murphy: CDC Needs Tighter Ebola Screening Rules

Ohio Senators Seek Information as Cleveland Faces New Ebola Risk

Democratic Senator: Restrict Africa Visas Due to Ebola

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October 9, 2014

McCarthy Riffs on SNL’s ‘The Californians’ With Highway Tips for Obama

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McCarthy riffs on SNL’s “Californians” with driving tips for Obama. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, showing off a lighter side rarely seen in his predecessor, offered some overly-elaborate highway navigation tips — a la Saturday Night Live’s soap-opera parody “The Californians” — for President Barack Obama’s fundraising trip to the West Coast.

The Bakersfield native, who took over the No. 2 position in the House from Virginia Republican Eric Cantor less than three months ago, made the driving suggestions in a press release encouraging the president to get out of Los Angeles and visit struggling agricultural areas in the state’s interior.

Borrowing from SNL’s goofy recurring sketch, in which characters with exaggerated Valley accents obsess over navigational details, McCarthy (or, more likely, his press shop) offered Obama an alternative to hanging out in Hollywood with the glitterati:

“He should take Colorado to Lincoln, hop on the 10, go north on the 405 to the 5 — get off at Lyons for a double-double from In-n-Out — then take the 5 to the 99 to the 65.”

Here’s the whole release:

In California, the President Should Take the 10 to the 405 to the 5 to…

Today, the President will be in West L.A. enjoying the Santa Monica sunshine and giving a speech on the economy. The President has been talking a lot lately about how great the economy is doing. While it may look good for some in the Los Angeles basin, a trip throughout the Golden state would show the President that many Californians are frustrated with his Administration’s economic policies.

So, before the President leaves California, he should take a little trip. He should take Colorado to Lincoln, hop on the 10, go north on the 405 to the 5—get off at Lyons for a double-double from In-n-Out—then take the 5 to the 99 to the 65.

On this route, he’ll pass through Bakersfield and into the Central Valley, where the nation’s largest vegetable, fruit, and nut producers are located. But right now the drought has made life tough for people in Central Valley communities, and the Obama Administration’s policies sure haven’t helped. Sadly, the Obama economy and the Administration’s harmful water regulatory burdens have left California in a far more precarious place than West L.A.

Labor force participation in California is only 61.9 percent, below the national rate of 62.7 percent, which is a full 3.4 percent lower than in 2008. Unemployment in counties across California, especially in the Central Valley, is still in the double digits.

If the President is serious about growing the economy and creating opportunity in California, he should direct his Administration to immediately ease the harmful policies that send precious water out to the ocean instead of to our communities. That would create real economic growth and provide greater opportunity to the next generation of our farmers.

So while the President is out West, he should take a trip on the freeway out of the big cities and see how the rest of California is doing.

 

Related:

Kevin McCarthy Elected Majority Leader

McCarthy Will Have to Prove Himself on Policy, Fundraising 

Majority Leader-Elect McCarthy Inherits Top Cantor Aides

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October 7, 2014

Murphy: CDC Needs Tighter Ebola Screening Rules

gop presser003 1117111 445x289 Murphy: CDC Needs Tighter Ebola Screening Rules

Murphy wants tighter travel restrictions on Ebola-afflicted countries. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention need to move more quickly to tighten restrictions on travelers coming to the U.S. from Ebola-afflicted areas, said Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa.

Murphy, a member of the GOP Doctors Caucus, told CNN Tuesday morning that the enhanced screening processes proposed so far by the CDC do not go far enough. Murphy wants to see some travel from West Africa restricted until visitors are proven virus-free.

The CDC has pushed back against tighter travel restrictions on Liberia, the African nation at the center of the epidemic, arguing that such rules could hamper the American-led effort to contain the outbreak.

“For [the CDC] to simply be dismissive and say ‘We can’t isolate those countries,’ they’re going down the wrong rabbit hole and trying to give the American public a false sense of security,” Murphy said.

“The chance of getting this, spreading across 300 million Americans, is certainly very small. But the American public certainly is also saying ‘We don’t want this to be spreading at all,’” the congressman said.

“No one is saying, ‘quarantine an entire continent.’ What we’re saying is more sophisticated screening, look at travel restrictions for individuals, continue to send aid there,” the six-term congressman said. “We’re not saying isolate everything from that. But right now the CDC is saying, ‘It’s OK for people to come and go, we’ll just ask some questions.’ It’s not enough. I don’t think the American public is comfortable with that. I hope in the next few days the CDC is going to ramp up other ways of screening folks and having more restrictions on people coming out of Africa.”

Murphy is one of a growing number of lawmakers, including the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat, New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, calling for a more robust federal response to the outbreak.

Schumer on Sunday said screenings should include, “fever checks and health surveys in both airports and ports.”

Murphy is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, is scheduled to hold an Ebola hearing on Capitol Hill next week.

The House Homeland Security Committee will hold its own Ebola hearing on Friday at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

That committee’s chairman, Texas Republican Michael McCaul, said the hearing is being held at the airport to symbolize the interconnectedness of a world in which “threats to the homeland are only a flight away.”

Correction, 3:40 p.m.: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the name of the committee and the time of the hearing. The hearing was last month before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

 

Related:

CDC Director Testifies on Ebola Crisis

Schumer: Screen Passengers From Ebola-Stricken Areas

No Ebola Travel Ban, White House Says

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October 1, 2014

Montel Williams Urges Obama to ‘Make the Call!’ on Jailed Marine (Video)

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During the hearing Wednesday, Williams called on Obama to reach out personally to the Mexican president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama and Mexico each took a tongue-lashing from Republican House members at a rare mid-recess Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday on the case of a U.S. Marine imprisoned for six months in Mexico on questionable charges.

Lawmakers at the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere heard from the mother of Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who has been held in Mexico since he crossed the border in March with three guns in his vehicle. Talk-show host Montel Williams, a former Marine who has become a leading advocate for the release of the Afghanistan veteran, also testified.

“If this hearing’s going to stop in 10 minutes, I think the president needs to pick up the phone in 15. Make the call. Make the call today,” Williams said, his voice breaking with emotion as he urged Obama to personally call on Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to free Tahmooressi. Full story

September 24, 2014

Bipartisan Quartet Ratchets Up Congressional Pressure on NFL

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Costa and three House members are upping the pressure on sports leagues. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congressional pressure for the NFL and other major sports leagues to get a handle on domestic violence continues to ratchet up.

A week after one senator proposed stripping the National Football League of its antitrust exemptions, a bipartisan quartet of House members is circulating a petition calling for football, baseball, hockey, soccer and basketball executives to review policies and take “the strongest possible stance” against violence directed at women and children.

The group — Jim Costa, D-Calif.; Ted Poe, R-Texas; Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y.; and Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo. — is asking colleagues to sign the petition by Friday. Full story

September 22, 2014

113th Congress Could Yield Fewest Laws in 60 Years

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House members leave for recess on Aug. 18. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Say this about the 113th Congress: It’s managed to live down to low expectations.

With only a lame-duck, post-Election Day mop-up session left before a new Congress takes office in January, the 113th is on track to be one of the least productive congresses — in terms of laws passed and signed by the president — in 60 years.

The 113th Congress, which passed a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through Dec. 11 before heading out of town, has seen just 165 pieces of legislation enacted.

The total from the House Clerk tracks only through August and lists 164 measures — more than 100 pieces of legislation below the 283 measures enacted in the 112th Congress and well below the 383 in the 111th Congress.

Another handful of bills have been sent to the president, but unless the 113th has an unprecedented burst of productivity when members return for the lame duck, the die is cast.

As Georgia Democrat Hank Johnson told CQ Roll Call last week, “This has been the most do-nothingest Congress.”

It’s a distinction Democrats insist is a disgrace and an abdication of the responsibility of governing. Full story

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