Be Careful What You Ask For

Jay Bryant rails against Tom Daschle’s do-nothing Senate:

Consider this: prior to Jeffords’ switch, the Senate, under Republican control, had passed such important legislation as a budget calling for Medicare reforms (including a prescription drug benefit), the Bush tax relief package, campaign finance reform, and bankruptcy reform. Details of the important Better Education Act had been hammered out, with critical amendments voted on and final passage certain. All that by May 24, 2001, along with voting on the cabinet and other important presidential nominations.

In the comparable period for 2002, the productivity of the Senate slowed to a snail’s pace. Probably the most significant bill passed was the pork-laden farm bill, easily the worst piece of legislation of the new century. To this day, there has been no budget resolution, not a single appropriations bill (not even for the Defense Department, in a time of war!), no homeland security bill, no bill to protect the social security trust fund from being raided, no bill for Medicare prescription drugs, and no reauthorization of the enormously successful 1996 Welfare Reform Act, which will expire unless action is taken by the end of the year. In addition, forty-seven judicial nominations are being bottled up, with no hearings scheduled.

Is this any way to run a legislative body? No.

Actually, it’s often a wonderful way to run a legislative body. If, as the old saw goes, no man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session, then what’s wrong with a Senate that can’t even agree on what to order for lunch?

I exaggerate, of course. There is important business to be done, and Daschle has stood in the way of much of it. But, please, let’s not demand an efficient legislature.

I promise you wouldn’t like it.