Our 112th Congress came to order and read the Constitution aloud. Actually, it read an edited version of the Constitution that went into the congressional record. Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) came up with the exercise. “This is a very symbolic showing to the American people,” he said, “and it’s a powerful message to members of Congress. We are a nation of laws, not of men.” And with that reading “the showing” began. But just what has this congress done for us, the people, so far?
The new Republican controlled House of Representatives has been busy with the business of the people. They have passed a lot of resolutions naming federal buildings after people and proclaiming calendar days as “Thus and So Remembrance Day.” All congresses do that.
So far the 112th Congress has passed 25 roll call votes. Of those pieces of the people’s business, here are the results: 7 bills have become public law, 9 bills are destined for veto and the balance faces Senate opposition. Speaking of the Democratic controlled Senate, 4 of those veto destined bills have been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and the balance are probably destined to failure.
My source is the Library of Congress.
Here are the public laws to come out of the House:
• H R 514: To extend expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT ACT
• H J RES 44: Making further continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2011
• H R 662: Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011
• H R 4: Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act of 2011
• H J RES 48: Making further continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2011
• H R 1363: Making appropriations for the Department of Defense
• H R 1473: Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act
Republicans never say “No” to the Department of Defense (DoD). Roads will continue to be built and small business gets to save paper. Of course there have to be continuing appropriations because stuff still has to get paid until later, when a budget is enacted.
Only the extension of the Patriot Act creates any argument because it comes up for vote again. Key parts of the Patriot Act are set to expire on May 27th and the Senate has promised a real debate on this Bush Administration brain-child. The ACLU opposes its abridgement of the 4th Amendment, that part of the Bill of Rights which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.
Here are the bills referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs:
• H R 830: FHA Refinance Program Termination Act
• H R 836: Rescind funding/terminate the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program
• H R 861: NSP Termination Act
• H R 839: The HAMP Termination Act of 2011
All of these bills are aimed at existing legislation and none is likely to pass. The Refinance bill seeks to eliminate the Federal Housing Administration’s recently implemented short refinancing program. The White House has threatened to veto the measure should it pass the Senate. The Emergency Mortgage Relief Program is a Treasury program aimed at helping 3 to 4 million people by modifying at-risk mortgage loans. The HAMP Act [Home Affordable Modification Program] was part of the Bush administration TARP [Troubled Asset Relief Program]. Should the NSP [Neighborhood Stabilization Program] Termination Act pass the Senate, the administration has already said it will veto that bill.
Here are some other bills with “Veto” written all over them: