For a Congress that struggled to pass even the most basic of bills, the 113th didn't lack for imaginative proposals. Squelched in committee, locked in legislative logjam, and buried in obscurity were bills that would do everything from eliminating federal agencies to micromanaging D.C. traffic enforcement. As the year draws to a close, let's take a look back at some of the best congressional pipe dreams, organized by their likelihood of passage, as determined by GovTrack.
0% — Tragically, Rep. Louie Gohmert's proposal to exempt D.C. residents from income taxes did not find its way into the congressional agenda. The No Taxation Without Representation Act addresses the District's long-standing voting-rights concerns, but rather than asserting Washingtonians' rights, it simply eliminates their obligations to Uncle Sam. Some District advocates are concerned it could turn the capital into a tax haven, as well as pushing residents' concerns even lower on the congressional totem pole. The bill has seen no movement since its introduction last July, much to the chagrin of many District-residing Hill staffers and political reporters.
1% — With a just-better-than-zero chance of passing, Rep. Alan Grayson's campaign finance proposal is more a product of idealism than of realism. His bill, the Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act, imposes a 500 percent tax on political contributions by corporations. What better way to get money out of politics than to bring in revenue in the process? While reform advocates might see the logic in Grayson's proposal, his donor-reliant colleagues seem unlikely to take it up, even in committee.
Sometimes even the most quixotic ideas need to be stamped out before they take root. At least, that's the premise of Rep. Greg Walden's plan to ban trillion-dollar platinum coins. Some on the left had floated the idea of minting such coins as a work-around to another debt-ceiling fight with the GOP. Walden's bill would limit the value of platinum coins to $200, which, presumably, would not go very far toward circumventing a debt-ceiling battle.
Rep. Charlie Rangel didn't get much traction behind his plan to make women register for the draft, coupled with his perennial proposal to reinstate compulsory military service. Rangel's goal is to give all Americans a stake in the wars the country fights, but it doesn't appear that his colleagues—or the Pentagon brass—share his views.
2% — Some bills exist simply to nakedly troll a member's political enemies. Rep. Ted Yoho's GLITCH Act is one such bill. Released during the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov, the proposal would cut the salary of the Health and Human Services secretary by 5 percent for every month that the website is not fully functional. The site has since rebounded, and Yoho's bill is collecting mothballs.
Meanwhile, some lawmakers are just sick of speeding tickets. Rep. Steve Stockman's bill bans D.C. from using traffic cameras to catch speeders, including, presumably, members of Congress. It also nixes federal highway funds for states that use such cameras.
Even love itself has not been safe from congressional interference. Rep. Matt Salmon's bill would give the axe to the Popular Romance Project, a program that studies the influence of romance on cultures throughout history. And in case any other agency was getting ideas, Salmon's bill would ban "any similar project relating to love or romance."
3% — Snarky bill names were not confined to the House of Representatives. Sen. Tom Coburn proposed the Let Me Google That For You Act, which would eliminate an obscure document-keeping agency. Its purpose, Coburn argued, has been largely made redundant by the availability of records on the Internet.
4% — Finally, Stockman makes this list twice with his self-named bill to disprove global warming. Intent on etching his name into law, the representative's Stockman Effect Act is his last attempt at disproving global warming. The bill directs scientists to study the Earth's magnetic field, which, if given more scrutiny, will apparently displace global warming as the culprit for most weather changes. Sadly for connoisseurs of such legislation, Stockman won't be back in the 114th Congress. But perhaps his ideas will live on.
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