With Hurricane Relief Inaction, the Woeful 112th House Comes to a Close

Late last night after the U.S. House passed the tax-rate deal, House leadership made a terrible decision that would have been much more shocking a few years ago: they decided not to hold a vote on a Hurricane Sandy relief bill. The relief bill, passed a few days ago by the Senate, would have invested billions in rebuilding homes and infrastructure destroyed by the major storm in November. It would have put people to work and strengthened communities hit hard by the storm—if it had passed.

Instead, top Republicans closed out their session and left town without offering the bill up for a vote. Speaker John Boehner has promised they’ll take up the issue of Hurricane Sandy relief eventually, but

It’s an outrage, and even Republicans like New York’s Rep. Pete King and New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie are criticizing Boehner over the decision to just ignore the relief bill. But it’s depressingly predictable given the sorry record of the 112th House.

Taken over by Republicans thanks to an influx of Tea Party radicals in 2010, the House has been a shining example of what happens when you put people actively hostile to the general concept of governing in charge of the government. This Congress has been the least productive in decades, and that’s largely due to the fact that the House is much more focused on fighting ideological battles than actually carrying out the basic responsibilities of governing. Just look at how the House, under the leadership of Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, has voted 33 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

As Jamelle Bouie puts it, the 112th House is run by

a group of fanatical, rabidly anti-government conservatives, who—over the last two years—have threatened to shut down the government, crash the global economy, and induce a second recession in order to lower taxes on the rich and slash spending on a collection of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

Add to that a pattern of governing-by-manufactured-crisis, putting millions of jobs at risk as the House pushed up against deadlines on transportation funding, the Federal Aviation Administration, the farm bill and more. The threatened blowup of the debt ceiling in mid-2011 is a clear low point, as the House threw a tantrum over one of the most basic formalities of governing, but it’s just one example of the pathology of the House majority in this Congress.

So we bid a not-very-fond farewell to the 112th House and all its embarrassments—and hope that the incoming one will be a little more interested in doing its job. As for the people who lost homes and workplaces in the hurricane, they’ll just have to wait for Boehner to get around to helping them.