A legislative graveyard, overseen by the Grim Reaper? Welcome to Congress 2019

Lesley Clark and David Lightman, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

The latest signing involved legislation backed by Democrats and Republicans that encourages the development of public shooting ranges.

One area that Democrats and Republicans agree is moving along is presidential nominations. McConnell changed the rules last month to slash the required debate time for most of President Donald Trump's nominees from 30 hours to two.

Republicans argued the rule change will enable Trump to fill hundreds of vacancies in the federal government and court system. Democrats say most of the vacancies exist because Trump, now in his third year in office, has failed to nominate people for the positions.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said she's tried for months to move two Interior Department nominations.

She suggested it is the implacable Democratic opposition to Trump's reelection that is creating the roadblocks. "We had the presidential election two years ago now and the fact that we are still working to fill out so many of these positions within the administration means that maybe you can't advance the legislation as quickly as we would like," she said. "There is plenty of blame on all sides but when it comes to slow rolling the nominations that is clearly one-sided."

Veteran House members see quiet cooperation on a number of fronts. When House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat, told Trump that $9.3 billion in a fund to help ports and harbors was not being used for that purpose, Trump ordered steps to free the money.

That effort passed DeFazio's committee last week and is headed for action by the full House. "In the end we will do some things, despite McConnell, despite Schumer," said DeFazio, a member of Congress since 1987.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur, an Ohio Democrat and a member of Congress since 1983, saw progress on spending legislation. The government's new fiscal year begins October 1.


"The problem is the press doesn't cover where the real work is done," she said. "The speaker and minority leader (in the House), they work these things out."

Still, there is recognition that Congress is failing to deliver on even some of the simplest measures. The disaster aid package has been held up for weeks among bickering between Trump and Democrats, who want more money for Puerto Rico.

Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, noted that McConnell did schedule a vote earlier this year on a Democratic priority: the Green New Deal. Democrats derided the vote on the sweeping climate change legislation as a show vote that McConnell hoped would put the 2020 Democratic presidential primary contenders in a tight spot. Most Democrats voted present.

"We held the vote," Gardner said. "They're the ones who supported it until they didn't."

(c)2019 McClatchy Washington Bureau

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