Last Friday, Politico had an article about the (really) do-nothing Congress. According to the article:
“So far, this Congress has only enacted 49 laws, the fewest since at least 1947, when the Congressional Record began tallying legislative activity on a yearly basis. In fact, the 80th Congress — famously dubbed the “do nothing” Congress by President Harry Truman — enacted 388 public laws by July 1947.”
Most of those would not be considered “blockbuster” legislation. The most recent bill enacted into law was to rename the Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in Bay Pines, Florida. In total, 5 of the 49 bills are to rename something – 2 of them after former Members of Congress! Other recent bills provided for continued operation of the U.S. Parole Commission and increasing the preference given to certain states when awarding asthma-related grants. Not authorizing new grants, mind you, just shifting how existing grants are distributed. (For those interested, this useful list shows every bill that has become law in 2013.)
As the article noted: “Even legislation that would seem to appeal to some in both parties…is stuck.” Of course, that includes GSP, to the detriment of companies throughout the United States. And they’re feeling the impacts: since the article was published on Friday, six new companies have joined the list of companies and associations calling on Congress to renew GSP. Like most GSP importers, they are all small businesses like the ones Congress always says it want to help. They are spread throughout the United States, including California, Florida (2), Massachusetts, Missouri, and Nevada. Except instead of doing something helpful like passing a GSP renewal, Congress has once again recessed.
While Congress delays, American companies pay: another $30 million in unnecessary taxes during the current Senate recess alone. If Congress adjourns for the year without renewing GSP, these businesses will pay tens of millions of dollars more and start 2014 uncertain about their ability to remain competitive. If Congress wants to boost its productivity – not to mention it’s approval ratings – one good way would be to focus on programs like GSP that have strong bipartisan support when it returns in December.