Goodbye To The Do-Nothing Congress

Outgoing U.S. Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) (3rd L) walks towards the Senate Chamber with incoming Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L) , U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney (2nd L, and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) (R) December 7, 2006 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Frist had given his farewell speech to his colleagues in the Senate. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News chief Washington correspondent and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.
This marks the end of what may have been the least productive Congress of modern times.

And, what finer way to remember it than two stories that broke last week?

First, when Democratic leaders announced the new Congress would work five days a week instead of the barely three days a week they worked this year, Democrats and Republicans howled.

Democrat Debbie Wasserman said it would force her to reschedule her daughter's Brownie troop meetings. Republican Jack Kingston said it would mean less time with his family and showed Democrats didn't care about families.

Earth to Congress: there are a lot of working parents who have to juggle family and work schedules. Maybe another line of work would better suit your lifestyles.

And there was this: The House Ethics Committee concluded House leaders had probably known for years that former Congressman Mark Foley was making inappropriate contact with teenage pages but chose to ignore it.

Yet the committee decided bad judgment didn't mean house rules had been violated so they recommended no punishment – not even a reprimand – for anyone.

As the father of grown children who once interned at the Capitol, I believe the time has come to shut down all congressional page and intern programs. Congress has demonstrated it has no real interest in protecting kids from what they might encounter there.

As for Congress working too hard, we should not only demand it work five days a week, but that members punch a time clock like many working Americans.

That way, we would at least know where they are.


E-mail Face the Nation.
  • James Klatell

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