Congress has now embarked upon a seven-week vacation, which along with a nice salary and great health care is one of the many benefits of office. But shouldn't members have to earn their extended holiday?
It's unfair to paint all of Congress with one brush, as many congressmen will engage in constituent services this month and most Democrats would have been happy to get far more accomplished in recent months. But with do-nothing Republicans in control of both houses of Congress stagnation rules, which is why Congress' approval rating is down there with mosquitoes, had the latter been on the survey ballots.
Speaking of mosquitoes, Congress' failure to approve the $1.9 billion in funding to combat the Zika virus requested by President Obama was particularly unconscionable. The virus is proven to cause birth defects and there have so far been more than a thousand cases detected in the U.S. The White House said that Congress' failure means that development of a vaccine will be delayed if not cancelled and it will be difficult to follow the path of the disease should it spread this summer.
Following a familiar cynical strategy, House Republicans poisoned the Zika virus bill by introducing irrelevant measures calling for defunding Planned Parenthood and part of the Affordable Care Act and reversing a ban on flying the Confederate flag in military cemeteries that could never pass. These GOP attempts at extortion always fail, and in this case, future Zika virus victims and their families were failed as well.
Democratic efforts to introduce modest gun reform measures also failed as well. For Republicans, a massacre of police officers is no more likely to prompt action than was the massacre of schoolchildren or church-goers. Nothing will change when Congress briefly returns from vacation in September. Maybe something will change in November if voters have had enough.