John Boehner Blames Democrats For Do-Nothing Congress

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) appears to be a touch sensitive to the idea that he's presiding over the least productive Congress in history, and on Wednesday, he delivered a speech on the floor of his chamber blaming President Barack Obama and the Senate for the inaction.

The last session of Congress was deemed by historical standards to be one of the least productive ever and this Congress, the 113th, is working at an even slower pace

Asked about that Tuesday at a news conference, Boehner dismissed the idea that his chamber was unproductive. But apparently he felt he needed to do more, and so he took to the House floor a day later to make his case.

"The American people work hard and they've got a right to expect their elected representatives to do the same. House Republicans are listening," Boehner said, pointing to nearly 150 bills the House has passed as evidence.

"Nearly 150 bills passed by this House -- yet to be acted on by the Senate," Boehner said, even though some of the bills in question have actually been voted down by the upper chamber.

He blamed Senate Democrats for failing to act on the bills, many of which would do things Democrats oppose, like repeal Obamacare and roll back environmental regulations.

Boehner argued, however, that the House bills were aimed at boosting the economy and improving the lives of Americans.

"Every single one of these bills have been blocked by Washington Democrats," Boehner said. "The Senate, the president continue to stand in the way of the people's priorities."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has complained often that the House does little but pass partisan measures aimed at pleasing the tea party, while bipartisan measures passed by the Senate -- such as those geared toward immigration reform or expanded background checks for gun purchases -- languish in the House.

"No matter what Speaker Boehner says we believe, the American people understand that the House of Representatives is where commonsense, bipartisan policies go to die," said one Senate Democratic leadership aide.

Another added, "Didn't he want to be judged based on how many laws he repealed?"

Indeed, Boehner has taken exception to being blamed for Congress' lack of productivity before, saying in one case that the barometer should be the number of laws that get revoked.

"Most Americans think we have too many laws. And what they want us to do is repeal more of those," Boehner said this summer.

"We should not be judged on how many new laws we create," he said a few days later. "We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal."

The House has just a handful of days remaining on its calendar, and it still has major pieces of work to get done, including finishing talks in conference committees with the Senate to pass a budget and a farm bill. The Senate may also pass a defense bill next week that will have to be worked out in the House so that it doesn't fail to pass one for the first time in half a century.

Boehner sounded slightly worried that his members and the Senate would not be able to reach deals on the remaining legislation. He suggested that Democrats could end up being the problem there, as well.

"We're trying to come to an agreement on the budget and on the farm bill," Boehner said, arguing that Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) "have made serious good-faith efforts to Senate Democrats. When will they learn to say yes to common ground? When will they start listening to the American people?"

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.



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