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The Do-Nothing Congress

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. Courtney) for 5 minutes.

Mr. COURTNEY. Mr. Speaker, one of the great football coaches in American history was Vince Lombardi, from Green Bay, Wisconsin, who, again, was very famous for his inspiring speeches to his players and to his staff. And one of his most famous quotes was:

Winners never quit and quitters never win.

I wish, Mr. Speaker, that the Republican leadership in the House would go back and read Mr. Lombardi's words when they made the decision this past Friday to basically quit on the American people and say that we are going to recess this week after conclusion of business on Friday for the next 7 weeks.

This is at a time when not only the eyes of the country are on this Chamber to get much needed critical decisions made; but, frankly, the eyes of the world are watching this Congress to see whether or not, again, financial markets will have any horizon in terms of tax policy, in terms of budget policy, and in terms of a whole host of basic fundamental issues like the farm bill, like the post office functioning that, when on Friday, this place clears out after Mr. Boehner's decision to recess, are going to be left hanging for the next 7 weeks.

Again, this is not a problem for the House in terms of inaction by the Senate. The Senate passed a farm bill. They passed a bipartisan farm bill last June; and today we stand here with farmers who are getting up in the morning and going out and milking cows or picking crops, and they have programs which literally are expiring every minute. The Dairy Price Support programs expired on August 30, so dairy farmers up in eastern Connecticut, where I come from, whose feed costs are out of sight and whose fuel costs are out of sight, again, have absolutely no structure and no basic understanding of how they are going to continue to survive, because this place won't move forward on a farm bill with the dairy support structure, the Dairy Security Act, which was built in by the Senate with the bill that they passed.

Again, the Senate has acted; the Senate passed a bill. They have a bill which extends crop insurance for 5 years. So for all those farmers out in the Midwest who have seen their corn crops literally burn up in a historic drought, the fact of the matter is they have absolutely no idea about what the future holds because this Chamber will not take up a farm bill and do its constitutional duty and get its work done.

Again, the post office, which fell into not just technical but actual real bankruptcy a month ago because of the structure of its pension costs, the Senate has passed a postal reform bill which adjusts the finances of that system, again, with bipartisan support and will allow the postal service to have some confidence that its operations and its post offices around the country can have some modicum of a future. This Chamber will not take up a postal reform bill between now and this Friday or for the following 7 weeks.

These are just two basic, sort of fundamental, programs which, in the past, Congress has done on a bipartisan basis without any of the drama and stress that the Speaker's decision to quit, to use Coach Lombardi's phraseology, is now creating. There are much larger issues, of course, which everyone is waiting for this Congress to act on.

Sequestration: I have shipyard workers in Groton, Connecticut, who get up every morning to build nuclear submarines. They don't know whether or not on January 1, whether the chain saw set up in the sequestration mechanism is going to go through the defense budget.

We have a fiscal cliff whereby middle class families don't know what their tax rates are going to be after January. We have physician fees under the Medicare program which, again, fall off a cliff on January 1.

With all of these issues hanging out there, we still, though, have a Republican leadership in the House which has made the decision to go home on Friday for the next 7 weeks.

Again, Coach Lombardi had it right: winners never quit and quitters never win. This leadership is quitting, not only on the Members that are prepared to roll up their sleeves and compromise and do hard work to get measures like the farm bill and the postal bill and budget policy settled once and for all. They are quitting on the American people. That is unacceptable leadership for the trust, the public trust with which they have been given.

This morning's New York Times has a story: ``Congress Nearing the End of a Session Where Partisan Input Impeded Output,'' and they show the numbers that this is the least productive Congress in a century.

Back when Harry Truman was President, he campaigned against the do-nothing Congress. That Congress enacted 906 bills in the 2 years during which it was convened. As of this week, this Congress has enacted 173, a quarter of the do-nothing Congress which Harry Truman made infamous and famous in American history.

We can do better as a Nation. We can get a farm bill passed. We can pass a postal reform bill which will keep that system alive. We can do budget policy. We can create a horizon for this country, which the American people sent us here to do, not go home and campaign.


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