Expectations for a do-nothing Congress

EXPECTATIONS FOR A DO-NOTHING CONGRESS…. Roll Call reported yesterday that the legislative pace on Capitol Hill has “slowed to a crawl,” and is likely to “get even slower.”

With the Republican-controlled House sending Senate Democrats one dead-on-arrival bill after another, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has spent the first three months of this Congress clearing the decks of a handful of relatively noncontroversial measures.

But Senate Democrats acknowledge that they could reach the end of the line this week with passage of a small-business bill that has already eaten up two weeks of floor time. And besides a continuing resolution to fund the government past Friday, Democratic aides say it is unclear what will be next on tap.

With any luck, policymakers will approve a budget and raise the debt limit. And that will keep the lights on and prevent a calamity.

But it occurs to me that the 112th Congress is likely to last two years without having any major pieces of legislation pass both chambers and get signed into law. There’s just nothing of any significance the parties can even talk about. Americans elected a Democratic president, gave Dems a narrow Senate majority in a chamber that’s dysfunctional anyway, and handed the House majority to the most far-right caucus in generations.

It will make previous “no-nothing” Congresses look successful and accomplished by comparison.

That said, if meaningful legislation can’t pass anyway, maybe the Senate can devote the bulk of its time to confirming judicial nominees, since the House is irrelevant to that process anyway? It’s not as if senators will have anything else to do.