Republicans now govern by punting tough choices down the road. In January, the GOP faces a mountain of them, but Speaker Ryan thinks Congress deserves a longer vacation break.
Still enraptured with the novelty of actually being able to pass legislation Congress (note: it's their job), giddy Republicans in the House are rewarding themselves with an extra week of vacation in January.
JUST IN: Members are advised that the House is no longer scheduled to be in session the week of January 1, 2018.
The second session of the 115th Congress will now convene on January 8, 2018, with the first and only vote being a quorum call at 6:30 PM.
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) December 22, 2017
The extended R&R time, granted by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), comes despite the fact that the Republican-controlled Congress has been one of the least productive in American history. And despite the fact that, as has become its custom this year, the GOP Congress recently punted into early next year a looming laundry list of difficult policy choices that must be addressed.
"Fortunately, Paul Ryan found a solution to all of these vexing issues: Do the minimum amount possible now, and punt the rest until after vacation," notes New York magazine.
Key among those on the to-do list? How to keep the government funded to avoid a complete shutdown. Also, how to ensure that 9 million low-income kids in America don't lose their health care coverage, after Congress let funding expire in September.
On Thursday afternoon, the Republican Congress passed a short-term spending gap to keep the lights on through Jan 19. They also agreed to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program, but only through next March.
Rather than urging members to come back ready to tackle the mounting legislative problems, Ryan is giving everyone more vacation days.
By punting on the hard choice, Republicans are setting up a fantasy timetable for January in terms of dealing with a host of complicated issues that require agreement from at least some Democrats.
"It feels almost insurmountable," noted MSNBC's Hallie Jackson on Thursday:
JACKSON: That's kind of the point here, Dave. It's not the hottest of takes to point out that governing by punt is not exactly the greatest way to run the country. Yet this is what we've seen again and again in Congress. How problematic is it that you have a really big list of priorities, and I had a top White House office on this show yesterday ticking through all the things they want to do in January. It feels almost insurmountable the number of thing they have to get done, the number of things they have to compromise or come to a deal on, in like two-and-a-half-weeks after the new year.
Note that is has taken an incredibly long time for the Republican Party, which controls the White House, House, and Senate, to finally pass a significant piece of legislation, its recent tax giveaway to corporations and to the wealthy. For context, President George W. Bush signed his signature tax cut just five months into office, and President Barack Obama signed 2009's landmark stimulus legislation just one month into his first term.
Trump loves to toss out inflated numbers about how productive he and the GOP Congress have been. But as the Washington Post pointed out, a majority of the bills signed by Trump in 2017 were just one page long, meaning they were mostly symbolic or ceremonial.
Allergic to hard work, Republicans are going to sleep in the first week of January.