House Dems rip GOP for leaving Washington

Sept. 21, 2012 at 5:16 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Democrat after Democrat spoke Friday in a near-empty U.S. House chamber, criticizing Republican leaders for going into recess while major bills languish.

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland led a special orders hour on the floor after the House voted Friday to adjourn until Tuesday -- which is listed as a constituent work day in representatives' home districts on the session calendar released by House Majority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, not a Washington session day.

Democratic leaders sent a letter Thursday to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, asking that he keep the House in session until key the farm bill and bills on taxes and the deficit, among other things, are addressed.

Boehner's office said the House did consider the majority of bills the Democrats had listed, blaming any inactivity on the Senate, controlled by Democrats, or veto threats by President Barack Obama.

Republican lawmakers were leaving Washington with "a stack of unfinished business," Hoyer said.

"The Republicans are leaving without getting our work done," Hoyer said, saying Senate-passed bills such as renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, and bills on postal reform and tax increase, as well as the farm bill, were languishing in the House.

Rep. Pete Welch, D-Vt., said the Republican-led House Agriculture Committee passed the bill on a bipartisan basis "but House leaders who have the authority to bring the bill to the floor won't do it."

Representatives can defend their votes for or against the farm bill if it were brought to the floor, but "none of us can defend not even taking a vote," Welch said.

"It's a shame that this do-nothing Republican Congress has called a halt to any action on the floor," Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., said.

At a news conference, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said, "As you can see, Democrats are proudly standing on the steps of the Capitol saying we must stay here until we take action to help the American people."

She said from Aug. 3, when Congress adjourned for its traditional August recess, through Nov. 14, when Congress will be called back into session, "we will have been in session only eight days. That's just not right. Democrats are prepared to stay until we get the job done."

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