Home » leadership » While Congress is away. . .

While Congress is away. . .

The cats will play. In their annual August recess, Senators and House Members are back in their districts, on vacation, campaigning or doing constituent work. Most of them, that is. Catch this stuff; it’s “good, bad and ugly.”

Bad and Ugly — The Washington Post’s, “At Recess, a Little One-sided Dodgeball,” captures what I would have failed to witness if I had looked for it on C-SPAN. Dana Milbank’s column today is high quality fun. I quote the intro and a few typical gems:

  • Eighteen times over the past 90 days, the minority tried, unsuccessfully, to force the House to adjourn. Now the House has finally adjourned — for a five-week recess, no less — and Republicans are demanding that the chamber be called back into session.

    On Friday and again yesterday, they opened the doors to the darkened House chamber and invited tourists wearing shorts and sandals to sit in the members’ chairs. The microphones, lights and cameras were off. The speaker’s chair was empty. But, hour after hour, the Republican lawmakers stood in the well and cursed the darkness.

  • . . . While Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) was speaking, somebody found a light switch and brightened the chamber a bit. “My God, there’s been a surge in power,” the lawmaker exclaimed.

    But even under the lights, dimness prevailed.

  • Price and 17 colleagues kicked off yesterday’s event with a news conference outside the House chamber, underneath a statue of Will Rogers. It was a fitting spot, for they seemed determined to prove one of the late Oklahoma humorist’s best lines: “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”

  • The Republican beef: that Congress left town without authorizing offshore oil drilling. Problem is, while Congress did nothing about fuel prices, the average price of a gallon of gas fell 23 cents over the past month — evidence, critics might say, that Congress should do nothing more often.

Not all House-passed legislation is bad. And Congressional oversight by dedicated committees of jurisdiction has exposed a great deal of wrong-doing. Here is another bit of good news just out on Congress, thanks to my CQ Behind the lines newsletter. To quote:

Since January 2007, DHSers have testified at 359 hearings and given 4,300 briefings to congressional committees, Government Executive’s Katherine McIntire Peters surveys — as Washington Technology’s Wyatt Kash has the House passing eight homeland security measures Friday designed to strengthen cybersecurity, among a myriad of other goals.

The Good — “Eight homeland security bills make it through House.” by Wyatt Kash (8/01/08) at Washington Technology. I am cautiously optimistic and looking for any little bit of light to shed after Congress’ recent FISA debacle. The story includes a helpful summary of each bill. To quote:

The House passed eight homeland security measures today that, among other measures, are designed to strengthen cyber security, promote greater sharing of unclassified information and prevent the over-classification of information. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security praised measures.

While Congress is away there are a few things you can do to make things better. Here is a petition you can sign from The Nation urging Senator Obama to hold to our Progressive values. HT to Steve Clemons at The Washington Note for this opportunity. Here is a fun quiz from We Can Solve It: “America’s Future: How Well Do You Understand America’s Energy”

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View my current slide show about the Bush years — “Millennium” — at the bottom of this column.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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