So what, exactly, has Congress been up to? They’ve just recessed for the holidays, ending the 1st session of the 112th Congress. We all talk about Congressional gridlock, and their inability to accomplish anything to help the economy or American people, but The Library of Congress THOMAS System lists 73 bills that became law during this session. Here are some of the highlights:
“Reformed” the patent system, making it easier for corporations to use legal maneuvers to extort money from inventors and small business owners.
Engaged in political theater during the debt ceiling debacle, abdicating their responsibilities to a Super Committee, which failed to come to agreements about budget cuts or tax increases to fix the deficit. How do you fix a deficit? End the wars, tax the rich!
Funded the ongoing efforts of the CIA to meddle in the affairs of sovereign nations and drop bombs from drones onto civilians around the world.
Extended the Patriot Act unchanged, despite grave concerns about its damage to our civil liberties, and the fact that the original impetus for the act, Al-Queda’s attack on 9/11, has largely been avenged.
Congress also voted to allow the President to use the military to indefinitely detain, without charge or trial, any person, including U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, that he deems an enemy. While ostensibly about terrorism suspects, the language is so vague and broad that interpretation is guaranteed to expand to cover almost anyone. This baby isn’t on the list above because Obama hasn’t signed it into law yet. He’s waiting for the holidays, hoping nobody will notice while he legalizes martial law in the United States.
Congress is also debating, but has not passed, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) which expands the government’s control over the Internet. The ACLU and EFF oppose this legislation.
Please leave comments if you think any additional legislative accomplishments deserve mention. What legislation do you think Congress should be debating and passing?