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Nearly 400 House bills stuck in Senate limbo

Greg Nash

The Senate may be “back to work,” but that hasn’t stopped hundreds of House bills from stalling in the upper chamber.

Of the 518 bills or joint resolutions passed by the House since January 2015, only 122 have passed the Senate, according to Congress’s Legislative Information System, which tracks the status of legislation.

That leaves just shy of 400 House bills stuck in the Senate chamber. The total doesn’t include resolutions only taken up by the lower chamber, or concurrent resolutions, which aren’t sent to President Obama’s desk

{mosads}Many of the proposals are currently stalled at the committee level. For example, legislation to ban bonuses for IRS employees until the department develops a “comprehensive customer service strategy” is currently awaiting action in the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Others, like the House legislation to crack down on the acceptance of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, were blocked by Senate Democrats.

Republicans need at least six Democratic votes to overcome an initial 60-vote procedural hurdle to take up a piece of legislation.

The standstill is drawing frustration from House lawmakers, who have urged Senate leadership to get rid of procedural hurdles that can kill legislation even if it has the support of every Republican.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, lashed out at the Senate this week, saying the upper chamber is holding up bills that could bolster national security.

“The House has passed bills to prevent Islamist extremists from exploiting security gaps overseas. It’s unconscionable that the Senate refuses to act on these bills to protect the homeland and improve security at foreign airports where planes fly directly into the United States,” he said in a statement.

The backlog of House bills isn’t anything new.

House Republicans, and some Senate lawmakers, repeatedly criticized Democratic leadership when they controlled the Senate, launching a “Stuck in the Senate” hashtag on Twitter.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told “Fox News Sunday” in June 2014 that then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was responsible for holding up 240 House bills.

“The Senate has not moved anything. They never send something to the president’s desk. So, how do you even negotiate with the president if he doesn’t have the bill on his desk?” he said at the time.

At the height of criticism from the House, The Washington Post broke down the number of House bills that have been stuck in the Senate for every Congress since 1975.

Eleven of the 19 sessions between the 94th Congress and the 113th Congress had more than 300 House bills awaiting action by the end of the session, according to the Post and GovTrack.

But the current backlog in legislation comes amid an uptick in productivity for the Senate. The current Senate has passed more legislation as of May 1 than any Congress since the 110th Congress, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

Democrats have repeatedly countered that by arguing Republicans have been able to pass more legislation because the minority is being cooperative. They also accuse GOP leadership of slow-walking President Obama’s nominations.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) touted legislation passed by the Republican-controlled Senate in a Medium post Friday.

“Some said Congress could never break old traditions of short-term fixes and punts, but we repeatedly proved pundits wrong with meaningful and substantial reforms for our country instead,” he wrote.

Tags Harry Reid Mitch McConnell
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