The Iraqi Parliament has adjourned for the month of August even though there is pressing legislation pending
Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani closed the final three-hour session without a quorum present and declared lawmakers would not reconvene until Sept. 4. That date is just 11 days before the top U.S. military and political officials in Iraq must report to Congress on American progress in taming violence and organizing conditions for sectarian reconciliation.
The recess, coupled with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s failure to get the key draft laws before legislators, may nourish growing opposition to the war among U.S. lawmakers, who could refuse to fund it.
Critics have questioned how Iraqi legislators could take a summer break while U.S. forces are fighting and dying to create conditions under which important laws could be passed in the service of ending sectarian political divisions and bloodshed.
And critics of the US Congress question how they can take a break while the Defense Appropriations bill has been put on the back burner and US forces are fighting and dying in Iraq.
In point of fact, the Congress is about adjourn their session for the month of August having done significantly less than the Iraq Parliament
Congress, and by extension K Street, has a busy week ahead as Democratic leaders try to shake a do-nothing tag by passing a series of bills before the month-long August recess.
What are those bills they will try to pass in the next two days?
Well, let's see:
There's an energy bill, an ethics bill (oh please), a Medicare bill
House Democrats want changes to Medicare and plan to dramatically scale back federal subsidies to HMOs that cover millions of seniors.
(Well, there's a great idea), an update of the FISA Act
Congress and President Bush's aides are working to expand the government's surveillance authority without jeopardizing citizens' rights. Aides say the new plan would change the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to allow surveillance without a warrant of terror suspects who are overseas. Details remained undecided, chiefly over whether after-the-fact court approval would be required for emergency surveillance.
(Fat chance, huh?), a bill for Veterans, oh, and a bill
urging Japan to apologize for coercing thousands of women to work as sex slaves for its World War II military. The resolution is symbolic, but it has caused unease in Japan and added tension to an otherwise strong alliance. Officials in Tokyo say their country's leaders have apologized repeatedly.
All in two days when they could have been dealing with these things since January if they weren't do busy trying to play gotcha with the Congressional investigation process. Or they hadn't been pre-occupied with trying to be Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.
My guess? They'll get the Energy Bill passed and that's it. Combine that with the minimum wage increase they got as a rider to the Emergency Defense Spending Bill and you have the sum total of what Congress has done in the last 7 months.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Parliament has a much longer list
including enactment of laws creating an electoral commission, military courts, a $41 billion budget that includes $10 billion for reconstruction and capital investment and laws allowing formation of larger federal regions and easing rules for investment in production of gasoline and diesel fuel.
Given the severe religious and ethnic divides present in Iraq, I'd say they've done quite well and deserve a break.
Unlike the US Congress.