It is no secret that the current Congress did a whole lot of nothing since being sworn in on January 3, 2013. While things such as gun control, a budget and jobs remain in various stages of committee, there were some things that did get done.
A few pieces of major legislation were passed in spite of the contentious rhetoric, such as the Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA), and the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act.† Yet, of the 31 bills signed to date, the majority did little to focus on the pressing issues of the nation.
Here are six bizarre items that Congress felt were a† priority.
1. The one about fishing.
In April of this year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Nashville announced plans to erect permanent restrictions around ten dams on the Cumberland River and tributaries. The upstream waters were deemed hazardous and the areas cordoned off would no longer be accessible to the public. This apparently upset people who liked to fish, so they contacted Sen. Lamar Alexander, and the Freedom to Fish Act was passed in June, delaying implementation for another two years.
I guess this will give residents time to increase the three fatalities, one serious injury and ten near misses and rescues that have occurred in the dangerous waters in the last four years.
2. The one to specify the size of precious-metal blanks.
In 2011, Congress passed a law directing the Treasury to mint a commemorative coin to honor the 75th anniversary of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The law specified that the coin should be dome shaped. This presented a problem for the Mint. When the center of the coin was pushed out, it made it a few thousands of an inch smaller than the law required, which would mean they would have to purchase special plates so that the coin could be in compliance.
Obviously, we donít want to spend any more money, so Congress passed a technical correction to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act which would allow the Mint to make the coin smaller and use the plates they already have. Crisis averted!
3. The one where they renamed a section of the tax code.
If you are married and work from home, you can open up an IRA savings account, called a Spousal IRA. This is now the Kay Bailey Hutchison Spousal IRA in the tax code, in honor of the long serving senator from Texas. That will be much easier to remember than its former name of “Special Rules for Certain Married Individuals.”
Taking time to rename tax code section is an excellent way to spend taxpayersí money.
4. The ones where they name infrastructure but donít fix it.
Naming structures to honor people is a long and storied tradition, as well as a wonderful thing for their families and communities. There were three separate laws passed for the sole purpose of naming an air control tower, a bridge and a building:
Instead of getting a gold watch, Patricia Clark Boston was honored for 50 years of work at the air route traffic control center in Nashua, New Hampshire by having her place of work formally designated as the Patricia Clark Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center.
Former first baseman and outfielder of the St. Louis Cardinals Stan Musial is the namesake of a new bridge crossing the Mississippi River. The Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge is in honor of the Baseball Hall of Famerís career and service in the United States Navy during World War II.
Douglas A. Munro was the only member of the United States Coast Guard awarded the Medal of Honor, which was given to him for his efforts in the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942 where he was killed. The Douglas A. Munro Coast Guard Headquarters on 2701 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., SE in Washington, D.C. is now emblazoned with his name.
Let’s face it, naming infrastructure costs nothing and itís a lot easier to name a bridge than to fix a crumbling one.
The sequester is still in effect, there is no budget and the immigration bill can’t get a vote in the House, but several congress people that have things to put in their campaign commercials. That’s productive.
Here’s a tagline they can use: Congress – The only thing better than doing nothing, is passing legislation that does even less.