In the annals of bill numbering, H.R. 1 is the slot usually used for a majority party’s top legislative priority — its No. 1 goal. By way of example, the Senate Democrats this Congress made an immigration reform bill their equivalent, S. 1.
Last Congress, House Republicans’ priorities were evident: H.R. 1 was a bill repealing the health-care law known as Obamacare (though we noted then that House leaders hadn’t come up with their lesser goals, as represented by H.R. 6 through 10).
But in this Congress, which began in January, the House Republicans’ No. 1 bill is . . . nothing. Not yet, at least.
H.R. 1 has a notation stating simply that the space is “Reserved for the Speaker.” Boehner announced this year that it’s being held open for a big tax-reform bill Republicans are crafting.
It’s unclear when that package will be ready for unveiling, though Boehner has called it one of House Republicans’ “highest priorities.”
The H.R. 2 slot is still open, too. At least they’ve got a Plan C — H.R. 3 is a bill that would allow the building of the Keystone XL pipeline.
“We should not be judged by how many new laws we create,” Boehner told CBS’s Bob Schieffer in an interview that aired Sunday. “We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal.”
Diversity in decline
As any baseball team will tell you, it’s good to have a farm team.
Back in his first term, President Obama put together the most diverse Cabinet ever. Thirteen of his 22 Cabinet-level members were white. There were seven women in all, four African Americans, three Asian Americans and two Latinos.
This time, 18 of the 22 jobs (assuming nominee Samantha Powers is confirmed as U.N. ambassador) are filled by white appointees. There are now eight women in the Cabinet — though that will go down to six with the departures next month of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Small Business Administration chief Karen Mills.
(It will go back up to seven if Latino organizations are successful in efforts to have a Hispanic woman named to lead the Small Business Administration.)
But so far there are only two African Americans, one Asian American and one Latino in the Cabinet — and two of those four are holdovers.
It’s not that the Obama administration didn’t make efforts to find minorities for those jobs. And there’s the increasingly serious problem that good candidates — especially those who know the confirmation process has spiraled out of control — are declining to participate.
One problem, a former administration official observed, is that the White House boxed itself in by having no minorities in the deputy posts after Cabinet members left the departments of State, Defense, Treasury, Labor, Energy, Commerce, Transportation and the Interior as well as the Environmental Protection Agency.