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A do-nothing Congress?

From NBC's Mike Viqueira
Do-nothing Congress? Well, not quite.

On this very day your US House will vote to express its "sense" that "there should be established a National Watermelon Month." Later this afternoon, the people's House will move to consider whether to similarly express themselves over "National Funeral Director and Mortician Recognition Day." And then, in a separate bill, it will weigh in on setting aside a day of recognition for this nation's letter carriers.

So when the president and Republicans say that this Congress isn't doing much this year, they may have ground to stand on. But that isn't necessarily at variance with what usually happens in an election year -- especially a presidential election cycle where, no matter what, there will be a new administration come January.

So far this year, the stimulus package has passed, and that's about it. It has been slow going, no question. Behind the scenes, the Democratic leaders are still wrestling with the question of how to handle the president's latest request for war funding, this time for $108 billion. They are looking at legislation to ease the housing crunch. The farm bill has been on the verge of closure for weeks, if not months. And Democrats are clamoring for a second stimulus package for the economy, this time focused on extending unemployment insurance, infrastructure spending, and other items that they failed to pass in the first version.

But none of this is going to be easy. And on the fundamental job of Congress -- to pass spending bills to keep the government functioning -- it is quite possible, if not likely, that Democrats will simply punt it all into next year, thereby giving the new president, who they obviously hope will be one of their own, a clean slate on which to enact new policies and priorities.