September 4, 2013

Hey, everybody: please stop saying that there are only “nine legislative days” that the House is meeting in September as if it were inscribed in stone somewhere.

The U.S. Capitol (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)
The U.S. Capitol (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

There are nine days . . . unless they decide to hold additional days. Which they can do whenever they want; in fact, the Senate decided to come back early to deal with Syria. The House could have done the same. Or it could meet on weekends. Or, you know, Mondays and Fridays. I wrote about this last week with regard to immigration, but it’s true for everything that they might or might not do.

It’s not as if finding extra time is unusual, either; Saturday sessions are never pre-scheduled, but they’re hardly rare when deadlines approach (there were three weekend House sessions in 2011, and nine in 2009 back when the House was actually legislating).

And it’s not as if most of the bills that the House will apparently duck in September take a lot of floor time. We’re not talking about the Senate, here, where delays and extended debate are normal. Even nine days is plenty if they want to get through a lot of bills.

But the bottom line here is that all it takes is for John Boehner to snap his fingers and the House could double the number of days in session this month.

There’s absolutely no reason to think that “the calendar” is some sort of external constraint on what the House can do this month, or for the rest of the year. So everyone should stop treating it as if it were. If the House doesn’t get to anything this month, it’s because they don’t want to. Not because they didn’t have time. End of story.