Senator: I’m Not Even Sure Why I Show Up For Work, We Don’t Do Nothing
One Republican Senator says the slow movement of Congress “sucks”, and a Democrat is wondering why he even bothers to show up for work.
Speaking frankly with media, Louisiana Senator John Kennedy said of the schedule kept by Congress:
“I think it sucks.”
The comments were made by Sen. Kennedy as Congress packed up to head home for a two week March break. Last month we covered the arrests, drug use and alcohol poisoning that college Spring Breakers are up to, but at least the kids are only off for one week before heading back to class. Nobody in the world has a working schedule that hands out two week breaks in March… except in government.
Sen. John Kennedy
Unrelated to the Camelot ladykillers of Massachusetts, John Neely Kennedy belongs to a United Methodist Church and lives with his wife and son outside New Orleans. He holds a law degree and has been involved in politics since becoming a special counsel a Democratic Governor of Louisiana in 1988.
Kennedy is “strongly opposed” to abortion and has an A rating from the National Rifle Association. In fact, he is good friends with Wayne Lapierre, the president of the NRA. He has also taken on more topical subjects including net neutrality. Net neutrality is a concept that believes that internet providers shouldn’t give higher speeds to one site or service over another. That is, your internet provider shouldn’t slow down your Netflix while speeding up your access to CNN.
Kennedy has also clashed with Trump and the party line over the appointment of several US District Court judges.
Speaking more directly about his experience trying to get his fellow lawmakers riled up and doing something, Kennedy said:
“All I hear [from the others] is ‘well, it’s not done that way.'”
“Well,” he said, “the way we’ve been doing it for a long time sucks.”
In 2015, Mitch McConnell took the reins as the majority leader. In doing so, he promised that he would make good on his promise to allow a more “free-wheeling” Senate. In the beginning, he was true to his word and Senators under his watch started to openly and fiercely debate the Keystone XL Pipeline.
But since then, things have become stagnant. Since McConnell took over, Senators have voted on fewer and fewer nonbudget-related amendments to House bills. In 2015, they voted on 140 amendments. In 2016, there were 56. In 2017, the number dropped to 19 and there have been only 6 amendments voted on this year.
Sen. Chris Murphy
Sen. Murphy with the Democrats also has some words for the molasses movement of Congress:
“There’s a lot of weeks I’m not sure why I show up.”
Murphy, 44, is a Democratic Senator from Connecticut and has been in Congress since 2013. Previously he was elected to the House and for a time he was the youngest Senator during the 113th Congress.
Are Amendments A Good Way To Judge Busyness?
According to a spokesperson for Mitch McConnell, his boss “can and does make it easy” for Senators to vote on amendments. In turn, he blamed Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for the slow down on amendments.
Since both sides are trying to blame the other guys for the lack of amendments worth discussing, it’s not a bad guess to say that yes, amendments-per-year is a reasonable measure in which to judge Congress.
Again choosing to complain about the Democrats, spokesperson Don Stewart said:
“Democrats didn’t want to vote on amendments when they were in the majority, and they really don’t want to vote on amendments in the minority.”
So how are you earning a paycheck? Isn’t it ridiculous enough that Sen. Mitch McConnell needs a full-time spokesperson to talk to the media even though the lot of them are on a two week recess?
Not to be outdone, Chuck Schumer also has a spokesperson. Matt House goes on to push the blame right back, saying that it’s McConnell’s fault for the lack of amendment fights.
“The numbers don’t lie. The fact is that Sen. McConnell has repeatedly blocked amendment votes on the few pieces of legislation we’ve considered in the Senate.”
Meanwhile, men on both sides of the aisles are twiddling their thumbs and wondering why they’re wasting all this time in Washington when they could be back home with their constituents.
Senators are also writing fewer amendments, say Republican researchers, and it’s causing them to assume that there will be fewer amendments to debate over and vote on. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, a Democrat, said she is “being told by [her] colleagues that [who] are senior here that this is not regular order. But [the lack of amendments and lack of debate] is becoming regular order.”
Even with less work, no Senator has gone far enough to say that they deserve a cut in salary or benefits.
Sources: Politico, Wikipedia