As the House of Representative moves towards a vote on Articles of Impeachment, expect President Trump and his supporters to claim that the process has been a huge distraction, which has brought the business of government to a standstill

But if they’re looking for a roadblock, they are looking in the wrong place. The House, the site of all the action in the impeachment process so far, has been a model of efficiency, passing 400 pieces of legislation since January that address the nations’ most serious needs, including health care, election security, and several measures on climate change (including Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree’s bill to rebuild climate-damaged working waterfront infrastructure) .

But only 70 bills have been passed into law this year, and that includes the renaming of post offices or veterans centers, and extending already existing programs for disaster relief, flood insurance and the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund.

There is still a year to go in the session, but, according to an analysis by the online news agency Vox, this Congress is sure to fall far short of the 300 to 500 bills passed in recent sessions, and nowhere near the 700 to 800 bills that were passed by Congress in the ’70s and ’80s.

The president is right to say that this is a do-nothing Congress, but wrong when he says impeachment is the problem.

The real culprit is the Republican-controlled Senate, and the tight-fisted management style of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Kentucky senator is not only throwing roadblocks against initiatives that have mostly Democratic support, but also bipartisan bills, like universal background checks, reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, and restoring net neutrality.

McConnell has the votes to kill any of these bills, or any parts of them that his caucus doesn’t like, but it never gets that far. Instead he just suffocates them, preventing any public debate. Unless he’s being called to confirm Trump-appointed judges, McConnell won’t move. The lack of progress has even caught the attention of Maine’s Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who told The New York Times’ Carl Hulse back in September that “I’m very eager to turn from nominations to legislation.”

In contrast, look at the House. On Tuesday, shortly after House leaders detailed two draft articles of impeachment, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a deal struck with the president on a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement. If House Democrats can keep talking with a president that they are on the verge of declaring unfit for office, the president’s supporters in the Senate ought to be able to send bills to his desk, for the good of the country.

And if they don’t, there should be no confusion about which side of the U.S. Capitol the do-nothing Congress resides.

 

 

 


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