Dave Weigel reports that some Republicans, miffed by certain advances made by Democrats in the lame duck sessions, plan to reintroduce the “End the Lame Duck Act,” legislation that would ban future lame duck sessions after Congressional elections. Here’s some of the bill:
(a) Mandatory Sine Die Adjournment- Except as provided in subsection (b), if the House of Representatives stands adjourned on the date of the regularly scheduled general election for Federal office during a Congress (beginning with the One Hundred Tenth Congress) pursuant to a concurrent resolution providing for the adjournment of the House, the House shall be considered to be adjourned sine die.
(b) Permitting Reassembly in Case of National Emergency- After the date described in subsection (a), the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Majority Leader of the Senate, or their respective designees, acting jointly after consultation with the Minority Leader of the House and the Minority Leader of the Senate, may notify the Members of the House and Senate, respectively, to reassemble if they determine that the existence of a national emergency warrants it.
Rep. Lynn Jenkins is spearheading this effort. I guess she really wanted the Bush tax cuts to expire, which was a certainty without a lame duck.
It’s important to explain why the lame duck session experienced the unusual productivity it did this year. The two main reasons are this: 1) Republicans successfully blocked so many bills, even ones with broad support, in the year leading up to the lame duck, that it left a lot of no-brainer legislation on the table for Democrats to mop up; 2) there’s an expected productivity at the end of a session, especially when dealing with expiring provisions. A Congress without a lame duck session would simply have more substantial activity prior to adjournment for the elections. And a Congress with functional rules, so that the minority cannot obstruct everything the majority tries to do, would not have so many legislation sitting around at the end of the session.
Jenkins’ bill, which received only 20 co-sponsors, is exceedingly unlikely to get passed. But it reflects the position of Republicans, to stamp out anything that smells like progress, even if they are attacking the symptoms and not the disease.