Congress Needs to Fix Itself in 2012

Congress owes America better start for 2012, and not to repeat the way it ended 2011.

Even if the Senate is hopelessly dysfunctional, the House could do better. The final House session of 2011 was a prime example of how to lose public confidence. The body was gaveled into session on short notice Friday morning, December 23rd, and a mere ten members approved legislation for the entire 435-member House. The others had left for the holidays, so instead of a roll call vote on a controversial two-month lowering of the “payroll tax,” the bill passed by “unanimous consent” of the handful who were there.

House leaders had given Members insufficient time to return to Washington. Representatives who had scattered for the holidays were informed at 5 pm that Thursday of a key vote at 10 am Friday. This unusual procedure for a major vote was possible only because the House a few days before had voted for a “martial law” procedure that removed the normal requirement for greater advance notice.



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