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June 25, 2016

The "Do Nothing" Congress: The truth, or just another Democrat fabrication?

by Deb Flavin,
Centre County Republican Committee

Some people want us to believe Congress is a "Do Nothing" legislative body.  But sometimes, even the "talking heads" don't know what Congress means.  The U.S. Congress is the Senate AND the House of Representatives.

Then there are those who want to confuse voters, telling their audiences that Republican Senators and Representatives made lots of promises but didn't deliver.  They hoped that you would believe what they said and wouldn't ask them to explain or expect them to know …

  • How many Bills were passed in the House and how many Bills passed in the Senate;
  • How many Bills were filibustered;
  • How many Bills didn't receive enough votes;
  • How many Bills never made it to Conference and why;
  • How many Bills were sent to the President for his signature making the Bill a law; and,
  • How many Bills sent to the President were vetoed. 

Sort of reminds you of the guy behind the curtain, pulling rods and pushing buttons, telling you to pay no attention to what you hear or see

But did you know ...

For the first six years of Obama’s presidency, America had a Republican “do lots” House and a Democrat “do little” Senate, but you didn’t hear too much about that. 

  • 347 House-passed Bills awaited votes in the Senate - initiatives designed to reinvigorate the economy, reduce taxes, speed energy production, expand school choice, slice red tape and more.
  • 113th Congress - House passed 511 Bills; the Senate, 232. 
  • Senate Democrat Leader (Harry Reid) blocked votes on 347 measures.

When Republicans gained control of the Senate, things began to change.  The Senate passed more legislation in its first 100 days than the prior year.  With a House and Senate working together, Congress began to show the American people that government is working again, including (but not limited to):

  • Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act (vetoed; override failed)
  • Highway and Transportation Funding Act
  • Massive rewrite of the education law formerly known as No Child Left Behind
  • Bills defunding Planned Parenthood (vetoed; override failed)
  • Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act (vetoed; override failed)
  • Rollback of climate regulations (vetoed)
  • National Defense Authorization Act (vetoed)
  • Extending expiring tax cuts, including research and development credit

As you can see, not every Bill becomes law.

To become law, a Bill must receive a majority of votes in the House and the Senate.  If either body changes any language in a Bill, both the House and Senate must vote on the changed Bill again, sometimes more than twice.  When there are no changes and the Bill passes both the House and Senate, it goes to the President for his signature.  That is unless the “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body” (the U.S. Senate) decides to filibuster, i.e., talk endlessly about anything they want so that Cloture Votes have to be taken to end the filibuster.  A successful Cloture requires three-fifths of the Senate. 

Let's pretend we're the Whip for each Party in the Senate.  He/she counts the votes they'll receive from Senators in their Party, the other Party and any Independent or supposedly non-affiliated Senator.  If you don't have enough votes from your own Party, you'll need Senators from the other Party until you have the required votes.  If you don't get the votes, filibuster continues.

It gets worse if the President vetoes a Bill.  A vetoed Bill requires two-thirds of both the House and the Senate to become law without the signature of the President.  For those who believe Congress is not following the Constitution, the flow of a Bill outlined above is the Constitution.

Let's talk about The Affordable Care Act as an example.  How many Republicans voted for it?  If you guessed (or knew) zero, you were right!  It was passed by legislative shenanigans.  Legal, but shenanigans none the less.

If you are a C-SPAN junkie, you might remember how many times there were votes in the House of Representatives to rescind Obamacare in whole or in part.  Every time a Bill on that issue was discussed, the Democrats complained that it is settled law.  (Remember, Prohibition, the 18th Amendment, was the law of the land until it was overturned by the 21st Amendment.)

Some Bills from the House did make it to the Senate.  The Majority Leader in the Senate (remember, for six years it was a Democrat), determines which Bills from the House even get to be discussed in the Senate.

If the Bills weren’t filibustered in the Senate, they made it to the President's desk and his veto pen.  Do you really think he was going to approve/sign a Bill to diminish his arguably only landmark achievement?  Do you really think there would be any Democrat or Independent Senators that would have joined the Republicans in the House or Senate to override the President's veto?  The Republicans had the majority in the House and in the Senate but they would need 292 votes in the House and 67 votes in the Senate to override a veto.

So, is Congress really a "Do Nothing" Congress or is this notion yet another Democrat fabrication; unfortunately, now joined by a chorus of even some conservative talking heads?

Our Mission


The Centre County Republican Party stands by common-sense, conservative values and principles, fighting for:



Lower taxes;



Less and smaller government;



Personal responsibility;



Creating opportunities for everyone;



Protection of life;



Empowering families; and,



Defending freedom and liberty.






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