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Ideology Trumps Accomplishment as 112th Congress Pursues Futile Bills

Think congressional gridlock is worse than ever? You're right -- because House Republicans keep pushing bills they know can't become law

The debilitating debt ceiling debate is par for the course -- instead of compromising, House Republicans keep pushing bills they know can't become law


House Republicans have been known to sneer at government red tape. Before becoming speaker of the House, Ohio's John Boehner dismissed Obama's health-care overhaul bill as "1,990 pages of bureaucracy." But now that the GOP holds the majority in the House and therefore sets the schedule, House Republicans have been embracing a lot of pointless busy work and ideological signal-sending.

One quarter into the 112th Congress's two-year term, only 14 pieces of legislation originating in the House have become laws (12 bills and two house joint resolutions). Fourteen. Compare that with the House in the 111th, which claimed 254 laws (plus 11 house joint resolutions) over two years. The 110th had 308 (plus 10 house joint resolutions). Even the often-derided do-nothing 109th Congress's House controlled by the GOP passed 316 (with 16 house joint resolutions).

If the current House continues with this trend it will have produced a mere 48 laws by the end of the chamber's full term.

Quick math: The last three Houses have by this time in their tenure produced an average of 76 laws each.

But when House Republicans are actually in session, it's not exactly like they're doing nothing. They've made a point of passing bills that "send a message." Over and over, they've brought legislation to the floor that was doomed to die in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Why? To put taxpayer money where Republican congresspersons' mouths (and votes) are. Yes, the House Republicans of 112th Congress are having a love affair with the symbolic vote.

Below you'll find a list compiled by The Atlantic of the go-nowhere votes House Republicans have made. On the list are some repeat GOP bogeymen. The House majority has voted to defund Planned Parenthood, EPA and NPR multiple times -- in riders, in amendments, in emergency bills -- none to ever become law. They've also voted at least twice to override President Obama's moratorium on drilling in the Gulf. And of course they've voted several times to defund and block the dreaded "Obamacare."

Call it grand standing, posturing, or GOPeacocking -- in the 112th Congress it's the new normal.

The following are bills the House of the 112th Congress has passed even though the bill will die in the Senate or face a presidential veto:

1. H.R. 2, Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, Jan. 19

2. H.R. 1, Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act (amendments include: defunding the EPA, czars, Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.) Feb. 18

3. H.R. 3, No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, May 4

4. H.CON.RES.34 Ryan Budget Bill (lowering taxing for wealthy, dismantling Medicare), Apr. 11

5. H.R. 1363, One-week budget bill (with Planned Parenthood, EPA and NPR defunding riders), Apr. 7

6. H.R. 910, Energy Tax Prevention Act (a.k.a. Stop EPA bill), Apr. 7

7. H.R. 359, Eliminate public finance, Jan. 26

8. H.R. 217, to Defund Planned Parenthood, Feb. 21

9. H.R. 1076, Defund NPR (this was an emergency vote), Mar. 15.

10. H.R. 1230: Restarting American Offshore Leasing Act, May 5

11. H.J. Res. 37: Disapproving Net neutrality, Apr. 9

12. H.R. 861, Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) Termination Act, Mar. 16

13. H.R.1214, Block Money for Constructing School-Based Health Centers, May 4

14. H.R. 1229, the Putting the Gulf Back to Work Act, April 13

15. H.R. 2560, Cut, Cap and Balance Act, July 19

16. H.R. 830, FHA Refinance Program Termination Act, Mar. 10

17. H.R. 836, the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program Termination Act, Mar. 14

18. H.R. 839, the HAMP Termination Act, Mar. 29

19. H.R. 1213, To repeal mandatory funding provided to States in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, May 3

20. H.R. 1217, to repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund, Apr. 13

21. H.R. 1255, the Government Shutdown Prevention Act, Apr. 1 (This bill had language in it claiming if the Senate didn't pass H.R. 1, then it became law)

22. H.R. 1315, Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act (gutting CFPB), Jul. 21

Honorable mentions (brought to a vote by the majority only to be voted down by them too): Light bulbs!; clean bill for debt increase; defunding the Libyan conflict.