Speaker John Boehner finally passed transportation legislation last week and now faces a bit of a lull in the House schedule.
Land swap buffs are in for a treat this week as the House is expected to take up not one, not two, but six bills transferring federal lands to individuals or modifying various federal land boundaries.
After dispensing with that business, the House will also delve into cybersecurity and data management, working on no fewer than five measures in that arena this week.
Welcome to election year legislating, the time of the calendar when Republicans — still healing their wounds from a rough presidential primary battle and coalescing around their nominee — grind through important if not particularly sexy legislation.
It’s not as if there isn’t plenty of activity going on: A number of House committees are holding hearings on economic legislation, gas prices and other issues, all of which are teed up for consideration over the next few months.
Additionally, Republicans are pushing forward with their efforts to reform the tax code. And although no legislation is expected to be seriously considered until next year, Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) are engaged in “tax strategy planning sessions about what to do about our tax code,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Thursday at a breakfast hosted by Politico.
And of course there’s the appropriations process, which has finally begun in earnest and will likely take up much of the floor schedule in the coming months.
Still, it’s a far cry from last April. Last year Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) spent much of the month struggling with his own conference over a continuing resolution to fund the federal government. Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) spent days and many nights struggling to agree on a spending measure that could muster enough support among Republicans to pass the House while being viable in the Senate.
With that crisis resolved by midmonth, Boehner immediately pivoted into the months-long fight over the debt limit, a process that consumed much of the GOP’s and the nation’s focus.
By contrast, Boehner finally passed transportation legislation last week, setting up the start of conference proceedings as soon as the end of this week. But there is no debt ceiling meltdown on the horizon, no hovering deadline to give action in the House a sense of urgency.
And for Republicans, a bit of a lull in the breakneck pace of legislating and crisis management is a good thing.
“The idea that Congress every day is, or should be, doing something that affects Americans tomorrow is a misnomer,” one GOP leadership aide said, adding that although Democrats tend to see a role for government in people’s daily lives, “Republicans don’t.”
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.