The last Congress, the 117th, which sat from January 2021 through January 2023, was controlled by Democrats on both sides of the Capitol. These lawmakers worked in concert with a new Democratic president, so naturally, we witnessed an unusual amount of legislative activity.
Wanna guess how much? The 117th Congress passed, and Joe Biden signed, 362 laws. Now it practically goes without saying that a hefty majority of these were small-bore matters—relatively inconsequential in policy terms. There were the proverbial post office renamings, the Harlem Hellfighters Congressional Gold Medal Act, the Big Cat Public Safety Act, and the like. Still, an unusually high number of them were very consequential indeed: the American Rescue Plan, the hard infrastructure bill, the CHIPS and Science Act, and several more. They were aimed at helping people and businesses through the pandemic, solving aching public needs, creating jobs, reshaping industrial policy, and more. Whatever else you want to say about them, these people were earning their paychecks.
The 118th Congress—the current one; the one that opened with the clown show where Kevin McCarthy needed 15 ballots to be elected speaker by his own party—has not been quite the hive of productivity that its predecessor was. So far, seven months into its term, it has passed, and the president has signed, 12 bills. They’re on track, if they can possibly keep up this scorching pace for the next 17 months, to pass maybe 44, even 45 or 46 bills!
And what laws they are! They’ve renamed a veterans’ clinic. They’ve toasted the 250th anniversary of the Marine Corps commemorative coin. Oh, but it hasn’t all been ceremonial. They’ve also pressed forward with the racism for which they are so widely and justly known, notably the bill that revoked part of Washington D.C.’s criminal code—McCarthy called it soft on crime, and Biden quasi-reluctantly signed it to avoid that age-old tag. The only law of any real consequence was the increase in the debt limit, on which the supposedly out-of-it Biden ran circles around the supposedly spry speaker.
As far as improving the lives of working- and middle-class people, McCarthy’s majority has done absolutely nothing. But by God, don’t call them the “Do-Nothing Congress.” Oh, no! They’ve done stuff. For example, they’ve investigated Hunter and Joe Biden over, under, sideways, and down.
I wonder how many public dollars James Comer and Jim Jordan, respective chairs of the House’s oversight and judiciary committees, have spent trying to prove crimes that probably don’t exist but that they insist, every week, will be pitilessly exposed for all the world to see in just a little while, you’ll see—you’ll all see. In fact, Democrats: Why not tell the world how much they’re spending? I’d assume you have access to the basic budgetary materials. How about a Biden Goose Chase Clock toting up the taxpayer dollars being wasted on this sham?
Those two just get more ridiculous every week. Last week, you’ll recall, Comer’s committee had a closed-door session with yet another star witness, Devon Archer, a former Hunter Biden business partner who was supposedly poised to finally blow the lid off the whole thing. “The walls are closing in on the Bidens,” Comer crowed on Newsmax Monday night.
In the end, Archer’s testimony—taken that afternoon, released later in the week—did nothing of the sort. Which Comer might have known if he’d even bothered to show up at his own hearing, which he did not do!
As for Jordan—well, his special new “deep state” committee or whatever it’s called has been an even bigger abuse of the taxpayer dollar. Just Google “Jim Jordan deep state committee” and look at the headlines: “Inside Jim Jordan’s Disastrous Search for a ‘Deep State’ Whistleblower”; “Jordan’s ‘weaponization’ panel is all conclusions, no evidence”; “Jim Jordan’s ‘Weaponization’ Committee Is Misfiring.”
But hey, don’t be too hard on him. He may have other matters on his mind. In late June, the Supreme Court decided that a lawsuit brought by former Ohio State University wrestlers against a team doctor who was found by an investigation to have sexually abused 177 young men from the 1970s to the 1990s can move forward. Jordan was an assistant wrestling coach during part of the period in question; he has always denied any knowledge of the abuse. Two former wrestlers, however, in a complaint to the Supreme Court, allege that Jordan was aware of the behavior of “Dr. Cough” and did nothing: “Because Coach Hellickson, Assistant Coach Jordan, and the athletic department treated Dr. Strauss’s behavior as acceptable, John Doe 23 believed there was nothing he could do to address his discomfort with Dr. Strauss.” CNN reported back in 2020 that six ex-athletes charged that Jordan knew.
This is one of the reasons I laugh these days when I hear Republicans say of Democrats, as McCarthy and others did during the D.C. criminal code debate, that Democrats are soft on crime.
And oh yeah, the other (and main) reason: Donald Trump. Today’s Republicans are the softest-on-crime bunch of legislators in the history of the republic. They wanted, until they got hooted out of town for it, to “expunge” Trump’s impeachments! I’m putting that in scare quotes because there’s actually no such thing as an “impeachment expungement,” but you know, there was no such thing as holding family members guilty for someone’s crimes until Stalin decreed it, either.
The GOP’s lies are operatic, bald-faced, and so nakedly and obviously untrue that one experiences a kind of wonderment just watching these people actually go out in public before cameras and say these things. Here was McCarthy, for example, shortly before Trump’s arraignment: “I could say the same thing that Hillary Clinton says about her election that she lost.… I can say the same thing about those in the Democratic Party from the leadership on down about George Bush not winning, that Al Gore did. But were any of them prosecuted? Were any of them put in jail?”
I mean … what?! Do I even have to answer that? Clinton made some noises about votes being off but conceded to Trump the day after the election. Gore fought the 2000 outcome to the Supreme Court, as anyone would have, but the court issued Bush v. Gore on December 12 and Gore conceded on December 13. Neither egged on a riot on our most sacred national building (a riot that McCarthy denounced at the time himself!). I can’t help but think that when these guys and their handlers sit around dreaming up what they’ll say next, they just howl to one another: “We can say anything—the mainstream press, drunk on their weird notion of ‘objectivity,’ can’t really challenge us because if they do, we can accuse them of showing liberal bias, and the gullible idiots on our side will be our echo chamber!”
I’d call these people a joke, but it’s far worse and more frightening than that. They are a menace. Congress has been littered with racists and drunks and bribe-takers throughout its history. But it has never been this bursting at the seams with people like this. They lie about everything. They denounce and seek to destroy our system of government. They use their power to conduct taxpayer-funded fishing expeditions for which they have no evidence, where they’re just praying they get a bite so that, in classic fascist-projection fashion, they can accuse Biden of that which they know Trump to be guilty.
And as for trying to do anything to improve the lives of the American people—i.e., doing their jobs? Please. Don’t be naïve. To their mind, American people don’t need health care or wages or a cleaner planet. They need tax cuts and guns and protection from those 100 or so transgender high school female athletes (yes, in the whole country) and, most of all, Donald Trump as their president for life. Come to think of it, the fewer laws these maniacs pass, the better.