Let’s talk about the number thirty-three. It is (roughly), the fractional equivalent of 1/3 out of one hundred. It is a failing percentage grade. It is that bit of leftover pie you have in the fridge the morning after a dinner party. It is a struggling school district’s average class size. It is the atomic number for Arsenic. It is that infuriating, that inadequate fraction. It is small, but undeniably significant. And it’s definitely odd. It is the 112th Congress of the United States.
Last week, the House released its agenda for up until the August recess period. And they have a busy month before them. Last Wednesday they voted to repeal Obamacare. In July, the House will vote to ensure the Department of Defense doesn’t get hit with the automatic fiscal cuts scheduled to take effect at the end of the year, reshape a slew of regulatory laws, and overhaul the entire U.S. tax code. Sounds pretty ambitious, even historic. Unfortunately for Republican Congressmen (but fortunately for the American people), none of these measures will become law.
Because the Senate won’t pass them.
Because the president will veto them.
So then why is the House devoting an entire month to passing legislation it knows will never become law? It’s symbolic.
Symbolism has become the word to define this House. So much so you’d think the 112th House was full of Nobel Prize winning authors. The media has highlighted Washington’s unrelenting, polarizing partisanship for months now, and the public is clearly aware of Congress’s dysfunction. That’s why this Congress is the least popular… ever (Richard Nixon was doing better during Watergate). But this is different. House Republicans are transforming. They are now verging on the border of clinically insane.
There is a clear difference between having honest disagreements after listening to your colleagues, and disengaging with them and reality altogether. The House of Representatives is no longer on the planet Earth. The Republicans refuse to work with the other side of the aisle and instead pass legislation that is not going to become law. They know this. They pass bills to fulfill their own egos, “energize the base” (although if their base is the 9 percentage point approval rating they may want to look elsewhere), to stand up for what is right, to take America back. It’s like the losing team in the Superbowl scoring touchdowns during a timeout, and then trying grab the Lombardi trophy. Excuse me Mr. Congressman, but do you realize you’re being paid by the American people?
I don’t pay taxes yet, but in a few years I probably will. When I do, I expect my lawmakers, regardless of party, to at least try governing. The Republicans, at this point, are not even trying. Unlike during the debt ceiling crisis, where they at least negotiated with Democrats (albeit with intransigent positions), now they don’t even bother talking to Democrats. The Republicans often preach about government’s wasteful spending, well I have some news for you Mr. Boehner. You are the wasteful spending. You are wasting our time, and more importantly, you are wasting the American people’s money. If you want to cut something, look at the Tea Party Representatives.
Thirty-three is the number of times the House has voted to repeal The Affordable Care Act. Thirty-three. I understand the notion of “politicking”, and I understand that election years inherently hurt the legislative process. But there has to be a threshold. There has to be a point when Congress can no longer be called a legislative body, when it no longer deserves the seal of the United States. Maybe I’ve just had my “Network” moment. But I’m pretty sure it’s number thirty-three.