Thursday, August 4, 2011

Time to Convene the Do Nothing Congress


Having survived a torturous process and passed legislation that raises America's debt ceiling, Congress has decided to go on vacation. One problem: the debt ceiling nightmare pushed nearly all other important work to the back burner and Congress recessed before accomplishing some important matters such as continue funding the Federal Aviation Administration. So because of yet another political stalemate, Congress went home and their negligence has left 74,000 FAA workers out of work--not exactly a stimulus to the sagging economy.

There is one thing that one person could attempt to do about all this: President Obama has the constitutional authority to order Congress back to town to deal with this issue. According to Article II, Section III, of the U.S. Constitution, the President "may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses." The partial shutdown of the FAA would certainly qualify as an "extraordinary occasion" which potentially puts public safety and the health of the economy at risk.

Convening Congress via the extraordinary occasions clause has not been done since 1948 when Harry Truman ordered the do-nothing 80th Congress back to Washington to deal with the issues of the day--a tactic many credit with allowing Truman to embarrass Congress and win a close reelection. Truman had it right and today's 112th Congress can similarly be described as do-nothing. It is time for this President to act boldly, especially when many Americans, his base most of all, view this President as too willing to capitulate to his political enemies. This President should bring Congress back to town and keep them there until they carry out their responsibility and fund the FAA.

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