What was missing from this session was legislating.
Republican leaders in Congress systematically refused to do their jobs, absorbed by the idea that their almost complete opposition to President Barack Obama would unite their ranks and preserve the party.
Instead of approving budgets on time, members of Congress competed to see who would lead to a government shutdown when funds run out before new ones are approved.
Hundreds of judicial candidates waited for the Senate to bother considering them. Senators haven’t approved any candidates for district courts since July 2016 or for appeals courts since January 2016. Court cases are piling up because there are no judges available to hear them.
Senators refused to debate the appointment of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. As a result, the court only has eight justices and rulings are often tied, forcing the judicial branch to become as paralyzed as the legislature.
And now, they’re going on vacation.
The salaries of Congressional staff—10,000 people—cost $253 million for the Senate and $413 million for the House of Representatives. What did this money accomplish?
Trust and cooperation between Democrats and Republicans in Congress is almost non-existent, and both parties are responsible for this.
They’re going on vacation or to their respective re-election campaigns, but did not pass a budget to battle the Zika virus. Democrats blocked the Pentagon’s budget. The leadership didn’t approve help for residents of Flint, Michigan, whose water became contaminated with lead. They’re leaving without even debating firearm proliferation, discussing an increase in the minimum wage, or fixing road infrastructure or drinking water supplies. Or even starting a dialogue about student loans, which are overwhelming our young college students and graduates.
Not to mention immigration reform. No one bothered with that one.
This regrettable situation is the result of Republican leaders letting the GOP’s most extremist wing drag them along. They didn’t put up any resistance. Year after year.
Now they have Donald Trump.