Lame Duck Congress Anything But Lame
ABC News’ John R. Parkinson reports:
Shortly after passing the Senate’s amendment to 9/11 Health and Compensation Act this evening, the House of Representatives concluded its legislative business and at 6:00 P.M. adjourned the Lame Duck session of the 111th Congress.
But this Lame Duck, by most accounts, was anything but lame.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he believed the 111th Congress was the most productive session during his 30 years in the House of Representatives.
“It is certainly the most productive Congress in which I have served,” Hoyer said Tuesday during his final briefing with reporters as majority leader. “This lame duck has not been lame at all. In fact, it has been very productive and addressed the issues, again, of trying to keep this economy, sustain its growth, provide for those who had lost their unemployment through no fault of their own but through the slowing of the economy, and extended tax credits to business so that they could grow, continue to grow the economy.”
The lower chamber returned to session this week to approve a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through March 4 and grant final approval to the Food Safety and 9/11 bills. The House had already passed its own versions of all three bills earlier this year, but needed to reconcile alterations made by the Senate before sending the bill up Pennsylvania Avenue to President Obama at the White House.
Many lawmakers have been eager to leave Washington to head home for the holidays. As Hoyer, D-Maryland, revealed Tuesday that he would keep the House in session at least one more day, a chorus of dissatisfied groans from members was heard throughout the House chamber.
Despite Hoyer’s encouragement, 168 members did not bother staying in Washington to vote on the 9/11 bill. Even Speaker-designate John Boehner left Washington early ahead of today’s vote to approve the Senate’s changes to the measure.
The House wrapped up most of the Democrats’ other top legislative priorities last week, passing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal and approving President Obama’s deal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts and Unemployment Insurance benefits.
Earlier in the lame duck session the body also passed the Child Nutrition Act, prevented a sizeable cut in Medicare physician payments, and approved the DREAM Act, although that measure failed to pass in the Senate.
“We are very, very proud of the work that was done by this Congress,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said about the Democrats’ record during the 111th Congress. “We came here to do a job. We got much of it done. It all relates to solving problems for America’s families. And we think that the agenda that we passed does just that. We are very, very proud of it.”
With that, Pelosi’s reign atop the House of Representatives comes to an end, at least for the next two years, after four years as the country’s first female Speaker.
“There is always more to be done,” Pelosi, D-California, said. “And as long as the American people have high unemployment rates, families who are looking for jobs, as people have uncertainty about their children’s education, about their own economic security, our work is far from over. So I look forward to working with the new Majority to solve problems for the American people.”
The House of Representatives will convene the 112th Congress on January 5.