In 1964 the movie Seven Days In May was nominated for three Oscars. The movie was a disaster movie in the sense it revolved around a military overthrow of the president and a nuclear attack against the U.S. by the Soviet Union. Fast forward to 2013. Change the title to Nine Days In September and the cast of players to the House of Representatives and you have a similar disaster waiting to happen but there will be no Oscar nominations.
Congress has taken the entire month of August and the first week of September off so lawmakers can spend time back in their districts and states. During this time, both representatives and senators are holding town hall and other meetings with constituents to gain a sense of how Americans feel about the major issues at hand. This information will be helpful as they finalize the Fiscal Year 2014 budget and tackle issues such as immigration, tax reform, domestic spying, and gun control.
Upon returning to Washington on September 9, the Senate is scheduled to be in session 16 days during September. For the House, apparently the month of August was not enough. The House has only scheduled nine work days with the week of September 23 noted as constituent work. This means they will not be in Washington doing the job they are being paid to do.
Are they just not smart or organized enough so they gather and retain the information they need in 35 days or do they just not care? Maybe, with campaign season a mere three to four months away, they want more practice.
The current fiscal year ends on September 30. So far the House has passed four of the 12 appropriations bills required to fund the government for next year. While the Senate has not passed any of the 12, all have passed committee and with 16 work days scheduled, they should be able to pass them all. But even if the House passes the remaining eight bills, with seven less work days, there is no time for conference reconciliation and final passage by the required September 30 date. There may not even be time for a continuing resolution to be passed. Business as usual will result and for the fifth straight year the financial reputation of the country will be in jeopardy.
Chances do not look good for anything to be accomplished the rest of 2013. For the remaining three months of the year the House will be in session 26 days compared to the Senate’s 57. The House does take one week a month for constituent work rather than returning home every week. But even doing that they still manage 11 to 14 days most months. Given the issues at hand and the fact they were home for an entire month, the House should coordinate their remaining schedule with the Senate’s to allow, at the very least, a continuing resolution to be passed and signed by the end of the year.