...when congress returns from their August break, they were met by a blank piece of legislation that says nothing, does nothing, and contains absolutely no text whatsoever?
The Onion got to thinking the same thing, and it bears examination.
Known as S.0000, the bill, which doesn't have sponsors, co-sponsors, or an author, has reportedly drawn starkly contrasting opinions from legislators in both the Senate and House of Representatives, and has paved the way for a major legislative battle in coming months.
Yup, opinions are flying fast and furiously. How can blank pages cause a stir? Let's look at the predictable comments by the regular suspects.
“At a time when millions of Americans are still struggling, we simply cannot afford this kind of devil-may-care federal policy,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), angrily waving the blank stack of papers in front of reporters. “We will not risk leading the American people into further hardship simply so the Obama administration can once again do whatever they please, regardless of the consequences. As it is now, the bill is both short-sighted and utterly irresponsible.”
You've got to admit, that's Mitch to a "T." But he's not the entire Senate, only the minority leader.
According to reports, 45 Democratic senators are in favor of the bill—which contains no text whatsoever—while 41 Republicans are staunchly opposed. At least three Republicans, including Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), David Vitter (R-LA), and Susan Collins (R-ME), have said they would consider crossing the aisle and backing the bill, an announcement that drew fierce criticism from GOP leadership and primary threats from members within their own party.
So what is it about this wordless document that has Republicans so riled?
They claim, or more appropriately protest that this wordless document would “kill jobs and force another round of big government policies upon the American people.”
Some Democrats said the blank legislation doesn't go far enough, while a majority of party members accused the GOP of “willfully undermining the legislative process” and being totally averse to any and all concessions. C'mon, after all, they are here for smaller government and obstruction. And a blank bill would be open to so many interpretations that it would undoubtedly be tied up in the Supreme Court for years.
Over in the House, the blank document is receiving it's share of critics and supporters.
House Speaker John Boehner has already said the Senate version of the non-legislation is dead on arrival in the House, and that the Republican majority would work together to pass their own blank law.
He has hinted at breaking up the blank bill and is considering trying to pass it in piecemeal, though he hasn't totally given up the option of tossing it out entirely and starting from scratch.
“The truth is, Speaker Boehner doesn't have enough support in his own party, and will need Democratic help to pass anything,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), adding that he “firmly and categorically stands behind” many of the nonexistent measures in the bill. “But once again, the GOP has decided they would rather spread vicious lies about the effects of this legislation, and they've successfully created a panic that is completely unfounded. Americans can’t afford to wait around any longer. We need to get this done now.”
But wait. We haven't heard yet from the POTUS. Surely Obama's going to weigh in on this blank bill. Not one to leave an opportunity untapped, he heavily criticized Congress for its failure to vote on the proposal. I mean he was really pissed.
“The inaction of Congress and the hyperbolic, ultra-partisan statements regarding this legislation, are precisely why most Americans are frustrated with Washington,” adding that he is prepared to sign the empty sheet of paper into law as soon as it crosses his desk.
Jeff Bezos, demonstrating his new ownership of the Washington Post flexed his muscle in dispatching Israeli correspondent and frequent WaPo contributor, Hava Garber, to assess the situation. She reports that to enact the bill’s total lack of provisions would require heavy concessions from both the Israelis and the Palestinians, not to mention approval of the Knesset.
"After all," Ms. Garber reported, "Israel does run America and not the other way around."
“But let’s not beat around the bush here—the midterm elections are right around the corner, and these legislators don’t want to take a chance and do anything that might cast them in a negative light before their constituents go to the polls.”
Now back to reality.
If the blank bill mentioned above is so radical, how are we going to get anything done on bills with words? Jobs. The economy. Immigration reform. Banking regulations. Tax reforms. Education. Security. Senior-care. Women's rights. When these jokers come back from their vacations, they better be ready to work. There's a lot to be done and the bills they're facing are a lot tougher than the blank one described above.
On top of that, leading republicans are pushing for a government shutdown at a critical time like this. I've got one word for that idea: Fuggedaboutit.