Congress Wastes Time on Frivolous Votes

Rather than address the economy or other pressing issues, Congress prioritizes insignificant bills that only help with their campaigns.

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The House Republican leadership is determined to keep the chamber's schedule to important matters, freeing up congressmen to do more important things, such as attend committee hearings and spend time in the district. That is largely a good idea, as long as it doesn't keep members from spending time together and learning to work together.

What, then, possessed House leaders to allow the following onto the Tuesday schedule for bills to be considered "under suspension" of the rules?

"Reaffirming 'In God We Trust' as the official motto of the United States and supporting and encouraging the public display of the national motto in all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions," the resolution says.

[Rick Newman: 11 Things Wrong With Congress]

Seriously? Is there any practical importance of this resolution? They surely can't force schools or even government institutions to display the motto. Schools in particular might be reluctant to do so, rightly worried about offending students and their families who worship different gods or no God at all. Let them worship learning. Let them trust in scholarship and study.

But that isn't the point of the resolution—and bills considered "under suspension" (meaning they didn't got through the committee process and require a supermajority for passage) don't tend to have serious policy implications. They are all about campaigning, often to convince a voter group—in this case, religious voters—that Congress is on their side. And they are also meant, at times, to convince voters that the other party isn't on their side.

[Check out the month's best political cartoons.]

If Congress wants to earn the trust of voters, it might try something that requires a bit more heavy lifting—passing legislation meant to create jobs, for example, or coming to a compromise on legislation to avert the automatic cuts in domestic and defense spending set to occur if the so-called "super committee" cannot find an alternative. "In God We Trust" might be a nice slogan on a coin. But when it comes to healing the ailing economy, the vaunted phrase is barely worth the dime it's engraved on.

  • See a slide show of 11 things wrong with Congress.
  • See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.
  • See a slide show of celebrities who have testified to Congress.