The House of Representatives is adjourned until November 15.
In the early rush out of town, did they address averting the largest tax increase in U.S. history that’s coming at the end of the year? No. Did Congress pass a budget? No. Did they name post offices? Youbetcha!
Last week, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank recounted a press conference in which House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) defending the ancient legislative art of naming the quasi-governmental properties of United States Postal Service. Asked by Linda Scott of PBS if the House’s “pretty light” schedule was prompting his colleagues to agitate for adjournment rather than sticking around “naming post offices,” Hoyer replied:
It’s a worthwhile endeavor to do that, and people really do appreciate it, particularly when it’s their name and their community.
Put aside the notion that 435 men and women raised lots of money to curry the favor and gain the votes of hundreds of thousands of residents in their congressional districts and then travelled sometimes thousands of miles for the “worthwhile endeavor” of naming buildings. Consider the notion that these 435 people did all that to perform personal favors for just one of our nation’s more than 310 million residents at a time.
But it gets better. In the waning days of the recent session, Congress named three post offices. Contrary to Hoyer’s suggestion, however, none of them was able to bring the warmth and pride that comes to someone who knows that there is a building named after them full of puppy stamps, mail-order Viagra prescriptions and wanted posters. That’s because all of the recipients are dead.
Post offices that were named this week included ones for General George C. Marshall (died October 16, 1959), actor Jimmy Stewart (died July 2, 1997) and civil rights activist Dorothy Height (died April 20, 2010).