Written by Annie-Rose Strasser, Aviva Shen
Yesterday was the last day of the 112th Congress, and it will go down as one of the least productive and most partisan legislative classes in all of American history. But there are a few things that Congress did — or didn’t do — that will stand out as its worst moments:
Almost shut down the government and hit the debt ceiling.
Back in August of 2011, Congressional Republicans took the United States to the brink of an unprecedented credit default by refusing to agree to any tax increase. Republican hijinks resulted in the downgrading of U.S. credit for the first time in history and cost taxpayers $18.9 billion. Congressional approval ratings also plunged to a record low.
Let the Violence Against Women Act expire.
Because of some Congressional Republicans’ opposition to extending protections for LGBT and Native American victims of domestic violence, the House GOP allowed the Violence Against Women Act to expire this year. The bill has enjoyed bipartisan support during every other reauthorization vote. And for a good reason: It is a hugely effective piece of legislation. Now, the program that created a rape crisis hotline, outlawed stalking, and protects victims of heinous violence is hanging in limbo. House Republicans also attempted to change the definition of rape itself in order to deny legal abortions to women who have suffered statutory rape or incest.
Advanced the Ryan Budget.
The House approved Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) radically destructive budget proposal in April 2011, despite outcry from economists, clergy members, and even would gut food aid, Medicaid and Medicare, and other essential safety net programs. An estimated 48 million people would have been kicked off their health insurance, and more than 1 million students would have had their federal Pell grants eliminated.
Voted 33 times to repeal Obamacare.
The House has voted to repeal President Obama’s Affordable Care Act 33 times, even after the Supreme Court affirmed the law’s legitimacy. Since January 2011, Congressional Republicans wasted 88 hours and $50 million on their failed attempt to repeal health care reform. Repealing the ACA would take away insurance from an estimated 30 million people, while adding over $100 billion to the deficit. After he appeared to accept defeat following Obama’s reelection, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) quickly renewed efforts to undermine its provisions even as public approval for the law grows.
Top photo: KP Tripathi/flickr
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