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Legislative Report - The Do-Nothing Congress

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are doing their best to remind us of a great old episode of Seinfeld, where Jerry and George approach television executives about producing a pilot for a new show. In their pitch, they say that the show will be about “nothing.” That’s exactly what the House has gotten done over the past few months. However, this show is not nearly as funny.

In this episode, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), was removed from the Office of the Speaker by Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz (R), who played the role of Jerry’s wacky neighbor, Kramer, after McCarthy simply partnered with Democrats in a vote to avoid a government shutdown.

Republicans then shut down the House for a week, came back, and settled on Rep. Steve Scalise as the new speaker. The Republican from Louisiana emerged from a closed-door meeting, called a quick press conference, and said he was going to be elected on the floor.

It never happened. The heavily divided Republican caucus quickly moved on from Scalise and focused on firebrand Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). He was the flavor of the day for a few hours until he learned that he would not be able to secure the necessary 217 votes on the floor.

Next up, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), dropped out of the speaker’s race just hours after winning the GOP nomination. The majority whip beat out a crowded field, but it became clear that he too was far short of the votes needed to win. Remember Jerry’s nemesis named Newman? For Emmer, this role was played by Donald Trump, who urged the Republicans to block the Minnesota Congressman from the job because he supported the certification of the 2020 election for Joe Biden.

Finally, on October 25, Republicans elected a new speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Johnson, a little-known Member from Louisiana who climbed the ranks in his party by playing a leading role trying to keep Donald Trump in power even though he lost the 2020 election.

GOP members danced in the aisles of the House like Elaine Benes, but on the issues that matter most to working people, Johnson has voted consistently with the most extreme elements of the Republican Party and has been a driving force behind cutting trillions of dollars from Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act. He voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which our Union advocated for and included record levels of transit funding and key provisions to keep transit workers safe on the job.

And while all this was going on, the war in Ukraine raged on, a new conflict in Israel began, and the many issues that we have at home went unaddressed. Transit funding for 2024 is up in the air, and deep cuts are being proposed. The Republican’s solution: shut down the capital and do nothing.

The new speaker says he “will ensure the House delivers results and inspires change for the American people.”  “We will advance a comprehensive conservative policy agenda (and) combat the harmful policies of the Biden Administration,” he said.

Yada, yada, yada.

Voters will have a chance to cancel this show next November.