EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


December 7, 2013

Column: Just 56 laws result from 'do-nothing' Congress

In a burst of affronted dignity, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, challenged us, the people, to look at all the legislation the House has passed this year. He suggested we’d be impressed.

Strangely, this followed an earlier outburst in which our speaker boasted it’s a good thing Congress doesn’t pass a lot of bills because, really, there are too many laws already.

Actually, Boehner said Congress should be judged on how many laws it repeals.

But never mind. Boehner is a pol, entitled to change his opinion from week to week. Usually, his eyes moisten considerably when he does it, so it makes us a little uneasy to focus on this.

We all know the House voted at least 40 times to repeal Obamacare, a repeatedly symbolic move because the Democratic majority in the Senate will not vote for repeal, nor would President Barack Obama sign it. So it’s moot.

At any rate, we decided to focus on the 56 bills that as of Dec. 1 actually have become law. Perhaps this will explain the roughly $6 billion we spend each year on members of Congress, counting health and retirement benefits.

The first law of the year, passed two and a half months after Hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeast, was to temporarily let the government borrow money to pay national flood insurance claims. Later, Congress voted for hurricane disaster relief. This was controversial but good, although many victims have yet to be paid.

The next temporary thing Congress did was to raise the debt ceiling to enable the government to pay debts Congress already has incurred. This was extremely controversial, so it was temporary.

The next measure passed by Congress was to extend the 1994 law forbidding violence against women. This, too, was controversial for some reason having to do with not interfering with tribal laws.

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