With the fiscal cliff fast approaching, America’s senators returned to Washington yesterday from their holiday breaks at home, and John Boehner has reluctantly called the House into session on Sunday. Congress doesn’t normally work between Christmas and New Year’s: According to the Times, the last time the Senate held a vote this week of the year prior to yesterday “was during the second session of the 91st Congress, in 1970.” But there’s a lot at stake now, and the hope is that some kind of breakthrough agreement can be reached and voted upon in the next few days. Until the impasse is broken, however, senators are spending their time whining about how bored and unhappy they are:
“This is no way to run things,” complained Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, who checked off the various backyard sports he longed to be playing with his children: football, soccer and some golf….
Mostly, people just looked mad. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, his tie slightly askew, looked as gloomy as the clouds hovering over the Capitol dome. “I didn’t realize how much I didn’t want to be here until I got here,” said Mr. Schumer, who had taken the red eye from San Francisco, where he had arrived only days earlier to visit his daughter.
Hey, guess what? Nothing requires Congress to wait until the very last second (or even after the very last second) to hammer out a compromise. Nobody is forcing Congress to reach a lofty annual gridlock quota. Congress knew the cliff was coming. In fact, Congress made the cliff. If you wanted to spend some time with your kids over Christmas break, maybe that sense of urgency you’re feeling now should have surfaced a few weeks ago. Legislating is your job, and the only reason you’re in Washington instead of seeing Les Misérables with your family is because you’re terrible at it.