August marks the month that Congress has their annual five-weeklong recess. So what has Congress done to better the state of the country over the past seven months? Well, to put it simply, not that much.
81 percent of Americans disapprove of the 113th Congress and it’s clear to see why. Congress has become a gridlocked mess that seemingly has done nothing special as the first seven months of the session come to a close.
However, it’s unfair to say that Congress has done nothing. It’s just that what Congress has done hasn’t been anything of substance or anything groundbreaking. The 113th managed to turn 22 bills into laws over a seven-month span. Let’s take a closer look at what Congress has done over the past few months.
Six of the bills enacted into law were all about the modification of pre-existing bills.
-HR 258, the Stolen Valor Act of 2013 was a new version of the law against false claims of being a veteran.
-HR 325, the No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013 delayed the debt limit until May 2013.
-HR 475 was To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to include vaccines against seasonal influenza within the definition of taxable vaccines.
-HR 1246, the District of Columbia Chief Financial Officer Vacancy Act, provided the Secretary of Transportation with more flexibility in transferring certain funds.
-HR 1765, Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013, provided the Secretary of Transportation with flexibility in transferring funds to prevent reduced operations and staffing of the FAA. This was the fix to put air traffic controllers back to work.
-S 716 was A bill to modify the requirements under the STOCK Act regarding online access to certain financial disclosure statements and related forms
Three of the other bills were devoted to reauthorizations.
-S 47 was the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.
-S 622 was the Animal Drug and Animal Generic Drug User Fee Reauthorization Act of 2013
-HR 307 was the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013.
Three bills were dedicated to disaster relief, particularly focused on relief for Hurricane Sandy victims. One was HR 41, the Hurricane Sandy relief bill.
-HR 41 was the Hurricane Sandy relief bill
-HR 152 was the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013.
-HR 933 was the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013.
Three laws passed were commemorative bills.
-HR 324 was To grant the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the First Special Service Force, in recognition of its superior service during World War II.
-HR 360 was To award posthumously a Congressional Gold Medal to Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley to commemorate the lives they lost 50 years ago in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.
-HR 1071 was To specify the size of the precious-metal blanks that will be used in the production of the National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins.
Two laws dealt with hydropower in Utah. HR 251, the South Utah Valley Electric Conveyance Act, and HR 254, the Bonneville Unit Clean Hydropower Facilitation Act, both give Utahns more of a say in the hydropower processes and resources in their state.
Two laws were dedicated to renaming things. HR 2289 renamed section 219(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Spousal IRA. Secondly, HR 2383 named the new Interstate Route 70 bridge over the Mississippi River the “Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge.”
There was a law passed to allow the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund to acknowledge donors contributions (HR 588: Vietnam Veterans Donor Acknowledgment Act of 2013).
S 982, the Freedom to Fish Act, stopped the Army Corps of Engineers from blocking fishing access on a section of the Cumberland River in Tennessee and Kentucky.
And lastly, there was HR 1151, to direct the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to obtain observer status for Taiwan at the triennial International Civil Aviation Organization Assembly, and for other purposes, which is pretty self-explanatory.
So although Congress has enacted a variety of laws, it is the hope of many that when Congress gets back to work, they can move past the gridlock and formulate bills that focus on fixing some of the tougher issues.