May 5, after the Senate voted to create National Snowmobiling Month, Older Americans Month, Missing Children Day and National Theatre Week, it also bestowed official recognition on an international ballet competition in Jackson, Miss.
Six days later, the House created Working Mothers' Day, National Orchestra Week, National Hospice Week and declared that the square dance is the national folk dance of the United States.
May 19, the Senate voted National Junior Bowling Championship Week, Amelia Earhart Day, and set aside a week in October to increase awareness of myasthenia gravis, a severe neuromuscular disorder.
The House and Senate have passed bills commemorating everything from American Salute to Cabanatuan Prisoner of War Day to National Construction Industry Week.
There's even a Parlimentary Emphasis Month. It cleared the House on April Fools Day.
But the budget debate has stalled most everything else on the agenda.
"We have a legislative process that is choked and tangled by the wreckage of the budget . . . this year," said Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez (D-Tex.).
Indeed, the only major bill to reach President Reagan's desk since the second session of the 97th Congress convened in January is one establishing fines and prison terms for exposing the identity of an intelligence agent. Both houses also agreed to kill a Federal Trade Commission rule requiring used-car dealers to disclose defects in the cars.
Beyond that, the clock is running fast on this session as the November elections loom, and the pile of unfinished business is rising. Soon to be sent to the White House are bills to aid the housing industry and extend the Voting Rights Act.
But among the many still waiting in the wings are all the regular appropriations bills, revision of the Clean Air Act, possible tax increases, immigration reform and a new western water law, to say nothing of the specific cuts in domestic spending programs the budget resolution will require.
Still unfinished in the House are a telecommunications bill that deregulates the industry and splits up the American Telephone & Telegraph Co., and a regulatory reform measure. Both have already passed the Senate.
Authorization bills for the Pentagon, for highways and mass transit and to extend the Endangered Species Act are also winding through the legislative maze.
Some social issues on the conservative agenda--such as the antibusing bill the Senate approved in March--may not survive the 97th Congress because of opposition in the Democratic-controlled House. And leaders of the two houses have already agreed that the politically explosive question of Social Security financing won't be tackled until after the fall campaigns.
The House officially has only about 50 working days remaining in the session, but that includes Mondays and Fridays, when votes are rarely scheduled and most members are still traveling to and from their districts.
While Congress has been less productive at law-making this year, that's the intention of those members who believe Americans got tired of 1970s congressional activism.
Among them is Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn.), who said that "perhaps the time has come" when a large volume of bills produces only "legislative indigestion."
The Republicans, said Senate Minority Whip Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), "aren't eager to legislate." The pace of the Senate this year has been "very slow," said Cranston, "and that's not necessarily all bad."
If the 1980 election was a mandate for less government, Congress is doing its part. Since Reagan took office, Congress has enacted and the president signed only 192 laws, compared with 260 for the corresponding period in the 96th Congress, when Jimmy Carter was in the White House.
At the same time, Congress has passed nearly twice as many commemorative bills--39 in the 97th Congress compared with only 22 during the entire two years of the 96th, according to Congressional Quarterly.
The lagging pace on Capitol Hill is particularly evident in the House, where members have filled 25 percent fewer pages of the Congressional Record this year than they did in the first five months of 1980.
The basic reason for all this is that President Reagan set the budget at the top of the domestic agenda. Until the first budget resolution is set--and it is a month beyond the deadline--legislative committees can't make spending decisions. And the budget paralysis has bottled up all 13 House appropriations bills, usually sent to the House floor in the spring.
Now it is likely they will not be passed before the next fiscal year begins Oct. 1. Thus, for all the sound and fury over the fiscal 1983 budget, next year will probably begin with another continuing resolution setting spending at this year's levels.
Rep. Morris K. Udall (D-Ariz), chairman of the House Interior Committee, said the slower pace is also due to the "paralysis of a divided Congress," with each house controlled by a different party for the first time since 1956.
The split in basic philosophy is so broad--such as that between Udall and his Senate counterpart on natural resources, Sen. James A. McClure (R-Idaho)--that one chamber's priorities are often lost in the other, Udall said.
Another reason for the languid pace, Cranston said, is the prospect of a lame-duck session after the Nov. 2 elections. For those facing reelection, it might be easier to "put things off until after the election.".
Meanwhile, the commemorative resolutions and tributes are being churned out unabated. Recently, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) brought to the House floor two commemorative bills, one to honor Amelia Earhart and the other to recognize the role that Navaho Code Talkers played in the invasions of Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima.
Rep. Edward J. Derwinski (R-Ill.) said he wanted to congratulate Hoyer "for taking the awesome responsibility of bringing these measures to the floor . . . and all the members who have shown their legitimate interest in history and civics and governmental responsibility . . . ."