Congress goes on vacation, leaving major work undone

Golfing, skiing, junkets abroad, schmoozing with fat cat donors: everything but doing the people’s work. Photo: The Capitol where the people's work is supposed to get done

WASHINGTON, February 18, 2013 — Congress headed out of Washington on Friday for a ten-day vacation, leaving the American people teetering at the brink of still another potentially catastrophic financial crisis, the sequester.

When was the last time you walked out of your job for ten days, leaving a pile of work on your desk, that if not done could wreck the company?

Yet our Congress, under the Republican leadership of Ohio Rep. John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, saw fit to adjourn Congress and hightail it home or to the ski slopes or on whatever junket Congress decided to take for ten days. Democratic House members protested for most of last week not to shutter the House for a holiday so that they could remain in town and work on a sequester replacement plan.

Remember the sequester is bearing down on us come March 1 with $1.2 trillion worth of automatic deep domestic and defense spending cuts ($85 billion of them this year) unless Congress stayed in D.C. and did the people’s work.

Is this where Boehner is on the 10-day Congressional vacation?

However, on Friday morning, the House voted 222 to 190 to take an extended holiday. Every Democrat voted against the recess along with four Republicans. Then the Senate followed suit since no work could be done without the House.

Once again the Do Nothing Congress did just that, nothing.

Remember last summer when Congress took a five-week vacation? It has another five-week one scheduled for this August as well. All told, counting this current Congressional holiday, it has 70 vacation days already planned (not including weekends). Talk about outrageous. 

When Congress returns a week from now on Feb. 25 at 2 p.m., we will be only three days away from the sequester kicking in. That step into the financial abyss will make the end of last year’s fiscal cliff seem like a step off the curb. Three days is not enough time to get a sequestration bill passed and signed in time to prevent our latest fiscal crisis.

The  Republicans have been dithering and stalling, actually saying that they now welcome the sequester with all of its consequences and there are many. Just ask economists on the Left and the Right.

Republicans have dubbed it “Obama’s sequester” as though he is the cause of the latest crisis, when it was actually a bi-partisan plan back in August 2011 to save the country defaulting on our national debt by not raising the debt ceiling.

At the time, Republicans in both Houses of Congress had no trouble signing on, horrified at the thought of taking a machete to the defense budget. Now they are not so horrified. Eighteen months have passed since the decision by Democrats and Republicans to use the threat of the sequester to force them to do their job with essential recommendations from their own bipartisan Supercommittee.

Now we find ourselves lurching ever closer towards the self-imposed deadline, without an escape hatch, and the Republicans have not moved any closer to solving our country’s financial crisis with the Democrats.

Instead they are saying “What me worry?” Maybe the sequester will be good for us. Really?

The stock market isn’t saying that, businesses large and small aren’t saying that, and the average American isn’t saying that.

Is it any wonder that 74 percent of Americans said, in a newly released Rasmussen poll, that Congress is not a good reflection of their views. So when members of Congress go home, to whom are they speaking? What are they hearing? Or are Americans just telling pollsters we are unhappy with Congress and not telling the people we elected to represent us?

We need to inform them there is a national crisis and they need to go back to Washington and start doing what they get paid — quite well — to do. This is a financial Hurricane Sandy and it needs immediate attention.

Oops, I almost forgot: this is the same Congress that took three months to vote on getting federal funds to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

This is the 113th Congress, God help us.


To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe


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