You are on page 1of 4


















VIDEO Inside the Beltway Inside the Ring


Pruden on Politics






Senate on record pace for sloth

House fares better on measures of legislative activity
Comment(s) |Tweet Share | |Email |More Print

RELATED CONTENT ARTICLES Obama: No 'radical' budget fix needed FEATURED

Obama: No radical budget fix needed

By Stephen Dinan - The Washington Times

Army finds Mexicos biggest pot plantation

By Adriana Gomez Licon - Associated Press

Culture of cheating breeding in schools across U.S.

By Ben Wolfgang - The Washington Times From COMMENTARY

left: President Obama , Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid , Nevada Democrat, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell , Kentucky Republican, and Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin , Illinois Democrat, meet in the Cabinet Room of the White House on July 13, 2011, regarding the debt ceiling. (Associated Press)

VERNUCCIO: Labor's new strategy: Intimidation for dummies

By F. Vincent Vernuccio Pressure manual advocates bullying of employers and their families Published 7:23 p.m. July 15, 2011

By Stephen Dinan - The Washington Times

9:20 p.m., Thursday, July 14, 2011


Politics Senate House Congress Harry Reid


Big issues are piling up in Congress , but halfway through the year, the Senate is on pace for its least productive legislative session since records were first kept, and the House is also operating at a clip well below normal, according to an analysis of floor activity by The Washington Times. Congressional analysts say the action regularly stalls when power is shared between the two parties, but this years slow pace, particularly in the Senate , is at a historic low even by standards of divided government. Through June 30, the upper chamber had passed the fewest bills since the Congressional Record started keeping monthly data in 1947. The Senate had also amassed the second-fewest total number of pages in the Record a measure of floor action and notched the sixth-fewest number of floor votes. One senator called the pace of activity glacial, and the nadir may have come this month, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid , Nevada Democrat, canceled the chambers Independence Day vacation to work on debt reduction, only to hold two meaningless votes and then adjourn early. Much of the real action has been shunted behind closed doors, where big deals are worked out and then offered to lawmakers in all-or-nothing votes. Analysts said Senate Democrats are likely trying to shield the chamber from having to take difficult votes ahead of whats expected to be a tough election cycle next year.

KNIGHT: Debt's not all, folks GRAFMAN: Courtroom media circus EDITORIAL: Read Obama's lips: More new taxes EDITORIAL: Obama stimulates Jakarta

President Obama says "we don't have to do anything radical" to solve this budget problem. Do you agree with him?
j k l m n Yes j k l m n No j k l m n Undecided j k l m n Other
View results


Harry Reid has been facing a major problem of arithmetic, said David Mayhew , a political science professor at Yale with whom The Times shared its findings. He has only 53 Democrats; he cannot count on any Republicans at all; and a dozen or so of those Democrats must be terrified by the election results of last November. So its hard for Reid to mobilize floor majorities. Given that problem, why move measures along at all? Across the Capitol, the Republican-r u n House is doing only slightly better. Through June 30, it had passed the second-fewest bills on record, but was above average in both time spent in session and number of recorded votes held, earning it a tie for 10th least productive session overall in The Times analysis. Together, the House and Senate combine to account for the third least productive Congress on record, trailing only 1981 and 1989. Measuring futility The Times analysis looked at five yardsticks for legislative activity: the amount of time each chamber has spent in session; the total number of bills that have passed; the number of floor votes each chamber has taken; the total pages amassed in the Congressional Record; and the number of bills originating in each chamber that have been signed into law.
Associated Press


The money roll begins: Newest campaign finance reports

By Luke Rosiak - The Washington Times The quarterly campaign finance reports that will give the first real insight into fledgling machines of 2012 presidential candidates, and the relative strength of House and Senate incumbents and their challengers, are beginning to arrive in earnest this Friday afternoon in Washington, hours before a midnight filing deadline. Published 4:46 p.m. July 15, 2011

WSJ publisher quits in phone-hacking scandal

By Jill Lawless and Robert Barr updated 5 hours, 43 minutes ago

Using the Resume of Congressional Activity, printed in the official Congressional Record at the end of each month, The Times ranked each chambers activity on all five measures through June 30 for each year, then combined the rankings into a legislative futility index. By that reckoning, 2011 is the worst year for the Senate since complete records were first compiled in 1947. It has passed just 28 bills, the worst in the 65 years on record, and compiled 4,308 pages of activity in the Congressional Record, which was second worst. The nine bills it has seen signed by President Obama are the sixth-worst total, while the 104 votes rank 15th and the 541 hours in session is 19th. Asked for comment on the analysis, Mr. Reid s office requested that The Times provide the data used. The Times provided the information, but Mr. Reid s office did not respond to repeated follow-up messages this week. Mr. Mayhew , the Yale political scientist, said the Senate is in a position it hasnt been in for nearly a century, after last years elections turned over House control to the GOP but left the upper chamber under Democratic control. Never since 1913 has the Senate thus stuck out as such a public-opinion laggard, and the Democratic senators no doubt sense something like that,he said. Canceled vacation Mr. Reid has repeatedly put bills on the Senate floor, only to see them blocked by Republicans calling for the Senate to hold votes on spending and the federal debt the dominant issues in Washington. Last week, discontent with the Senate s pace spilled over onto the floor after Mr. Reid forced the chamber to cancel its traditional weeklong Independence Day break and return to town from Tuesday through Thursday. He said he wanted senators in town to talk about debt reduction, then scheduled votes on the ongoing military operations in Libya. He then was forced to call off those votes amid GOP objections, pivoting instead to a nonbinding symbolic measure saying that wealthy taxpayers should contribute to a debt solution. Maybe we should have taken up some issues that directly affect the deficit, such as ethanol subsidies, such as some of the other tax breaks and loopholes,said Sen. John McCain. The Arizona Republican said he has a tough time explaining to constituents that they held just two votes on procedural matters the whole week.

Rupert Murdoch accepted the resignations of The Wall Street Journals publisher and the chief of his British operations on Friday as the once-defiant media mogul struggled to control an escalating phone hacking scandal, offering apologies to the public and the family of a murdered schoolgirl. Published 4:32 p.m. July 15, 2011

Grief counseling for Muggles mourning final Harry Potterfilm

By Patrick Hruby - Special to The Washington Times Fear not, Hogwarts junkies. Yes, the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2marks the end of a cinematic era. But that doesnt mean your fantasy fix is about to vanish like an invisibility cloak. Published 3:00 p.m. July 14, 2011

A surreal site, a ghost 405 freeway, awaits L.A. National Japanese debate whether to restart nuclear reactors World Dozens arrested, charged in Calif. gang sweep TWT


But Mr. Reid said it was Republicans who blocked the chamber from moving to debate the Libya situation last week and saying thats been a pattern all along. One reason were not having a lot of votes in recent months is because we cant get things on the floor. Were stopped by my Republican friends,he said. Mr. Reid , though, also said that much of the business of the Senate doesnt happen on the floor in votes anymore. He pointed to the meetings at the White House between President Obama and congressional leaders as a sign of progress on the debt-reduction talks and said having the Senate in session even if its voting schedule was light helped facilitate those talks. I havent heard a single person who is not in Congress complain about our being here,he said. House edge Out and About Baltimore In the House , meanwhile, the 66 bills passed is second-fewest since World War II, and the 14 bills signed into law is third worst. But the chamber has amassed 4,581 pages of activity in the Record, ranking 24th; has taken 130 full votes, ranking 38th; and has spent 515 hours and 12 minutes in session through June 30 more than all but 15 other sessions. The majority party has far more control in the House than in the Senate , and House Speaker John A. Boehner , Ohio Republican, had promised to open the floor to more debate and amendments. Michael Steel, a spokesman for the speaker, said the new GOP leadership team has succeeded. Under the new majority, the House has already had unprecedented open debates, opening up the institution and allowing the House to work its will,Mr. Steel said. Republicans even have won praise from some Democrats for the way the chamber has operated this year. While complaining about limits on a few big debates, top Democrats have said they admire the GOP for allowing all amendments on spending bills. Lawrence C. Dodd , a political science professor at the University of Florida, said Mr. Boehner needed to find a way to manage legislation while also giving an outlet to the dozens of freshman Republicans eager to exercise the mandate they think they earned in Novembers elections. He has to let those guys blow off steam. He almost couldnt stop them. His speakership might even be at risk, were he seriously to try to do that,Mr. Dodd said. Mr. Dodd and a colleague, Scot Schraufnagel at the University of Northern Illinois, have conducted research and found that the current arrangement, when one party holds the White House and just one chamber in Congress which they labeled quasi-divided is the least productive setup for legislative productivity. By contrast, both unified Congresses when both chambers and the White House are held by the same party and divided Congresses - when the House and Senate are controlled by the same party, while the presidency is not are more likely to produce results. The professors found that in those quasi-divided Congresses, the House usually takes the lead on major legislation, helped by rules that give the majority more control than in the Senate . Copyright 2011 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Charm City Charmers: a not-s oragtag group of Baltimore area writers lead by Tamar Alexia Fleishman Sunday Southern Gospel music at Edgemere, Md's Penwood Christian Church Visiting Hampton, Va COMMUNITIES Independent voices from the TWT Communities

Life With Lisa

Reviews, insights and commentary from an eclectic observer.

Casey Anthony, Nubia & Jorge Barahona; The horrors of child abuse and neglect Kaylee Anthony, Nubia & Jorge Barahona; When mommy is a monster - the horrors of child abuse and neglect

Curtain Up!
Classical music and the performing arts: news and reviews you can use CATF 2011: Lucy Thurber and 'The Insurgents' invade WV CATF 2011: Sam Shepard's punchy 'Ages of the Moon'

Being Young, Conservative and Spicy

Making the right-minded message sizzle Conservative women combat fecklessness, status quo in race to 2012 "Americans in Name Only" wage war on the U.S.

COMMENTS Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus. blog comments powered by Disqus ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephen Dinan
Stephen Dinan can be reached at .

Obama: No radicalbudget fix needed Senate on record pace for sloth House turns out light on old-style bulbs Lawmakers agree Obama botched Libya action Fedsdeficit streak hits record 33rd straight month

All site contents Copyright 2011 The Washington Times, LLC

Jobs | About | Customer Service | Terms of Use | Contact Us | Privacy