Speaker John Boehner finally passed transportation legislation last week and now faces a bit of a lull in the House schedule.
The leadership aide explained that although the public and Members have become used to Congress constantly acting in crisis-containment mode, that has been a reality for lawmakers only since 2008’s vote on the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the economic collapse.
“We live in a post-TARP world in Congress,” the aide said, adding that “just because the floor schedule isn’t filled with salacious things doesn’t mean Congress isn’t doing anything important.”
A big part of this week’s lull is a result of Republicans putting together their next several waves of election year issues. For instance, after next week’s recess, Republicans will bring to the floor a reconciliation package that outlines a new round of cuts the GOP wants.
Although there is little chance that those cuts will be put in place in the near term, GOP aides said the package will be the centerpiece of Republicans’ push against automatic cuts to defense programs, known as the sequester, put in place by last year’s debt ceiling deal and the subsequent failure of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction.
According to Cantor, “We’ll make some moves throughout the year” to demonstrate the GOP’s effort to replace the sequester with a set of cuts it is more comfortable with.
Republicans for months have been beating the drum against the sequester’s defense cuts, and according to a GOP leadership aide, the reconciliation package “shows we’re the only ones with a plan to avoid these defense cuts.”
Similarly, McCarthy has been putting together a package of energy and gas price legislation that will come to the floor later this spring, timed to coincide with the expected spike in prices because of the summer driving season.
One issue that is also complicating matters for Republicans in the House has been the presidential primaries.
While Democrats already have their standard-bearer in President Barack Obama, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has only recently put the primary process in his rearview mirror.
Republicans said they are happy to finally have a presumptive nominee and are eager to work with him on his agenda.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.