Yesterday, the House of Representatives took a break from its longstanding policy of not debating any jobs-related legislation and approved a series of trade pacts that had been under consideration since the Bush administration…
Congress resoundingly approved long-stalled trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama late Wednesday, authorizing the most significant expansion of trade relations in nearly two decades…
The South Korea deal has the potential to create as many as 280,000 American jobs, according to a recent assessment by the staff of the U.S. International Trade Commission, and to boost exports by more than $12 billion. Several major labor unions have warned that any gains will come at the cost of layoffs among American workers because of heightened competition from South Korean imports. The South Korea deal is widely hailed as the most consequential trade pact since the North American Free Trade Agreement was ratified in 1994.
But those controversial jobs figures, which are disputed by the AFL-CIO and various groups that are skeptical of free trade, belie the true importance of this legislation. How vital were these measures? Well, there were several dozen roll call votes in the past week. Michele Bachmann participated in precisely zero. Which brought the number of votes the "Congresswoman" has cast since August 1st to…zero. But on Wednesday, Christmas came early to the south side of the Capitol, and miracle of miracles, Bachmann's Bizarro Iron Horse streak of 88 consecutive missed votes came to an end with her votes in favor of the trade deals.
To be fair, showing up to vote is a huge drag. Between campaigning for re-election or seeking higher office, raising money or attending lobbyist-funded junkets, writing to irate constituents or sending creepy texts to strangers while using their niece's chat avatar, few Members of Congress have the time to actually do their jobs. And by few, I mean one…
On the other hand, Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa., has not missed a vote during his tenure in the House dating back to Jan. 4, 2007. Altmire’s impressive streak is now beyond 4,300 straight votes.
Of course, racing back to Washington to cast vote after vote is totally rewarded by constituents and the judgement of history. After all, every schoolchild knows the story of William Natcher, a Kentucky Democrat who cast 18,401 consecutive roll call votes from his election to the House in 1954 to his death in 1994. He's more famous than Cal Ripken, Jr. and Lou Gehrig, right? Right?
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: Colombia, House of Representatives, Jason Altmire, Michele Bachmann, Panama, South Korea