Opinion | Congress Gets the (Working) Christmas It Deserves

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By Michelle Cottle

Ms. Cottle is a member of the editorial board.

After a stressful, fractious and at times terrifying 2021, rarely has the congressional community more desperately needed a nice long holiday respite far from the toxic funk of Washington.

Better luck next year. Congress originally planned on wrapping up its Washington business around Dec. 10. Instead, lawmakers and staff members rolled into this month with a pile of must-do items still to tackle: pass the annual defense authorization bill, continue funding the government, prevent a default on the national debt and make at least some progress on President Biden’s Build Back Better plan.

With obstruction-happy Republicans working to slow progress, Congress’s hopes for fleeing town soon are disappearing faster than cheap wine at a House staff party. Schedules are being adjusted. Travel plans are being tweaked. Pat Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has already bought a Christmas tree for his place in Washington in anticipation of having to stay in town through the season.

Hill denizens are looking forward to nights and weekends trapped together in the Capitol complex, eating bad takeout and squabbling over policy minutiae and procedural arcana. How festive is that?

It may sound Grinchy, but lawmakers have only themselves to blame for this unmerry state of affairs. This is what happens when Congress operates through brinkmanship, blackmail and punting.

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