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September 2014
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Congressional Velocity (September 2014 Update)

This is the latest in a series of quarterly posts on congressional legislative output.  I started these in June 2013 in response to a flurry of commentary about how the 113th congress was lagging behind in output compared to previous congresses.  Now, it is fundamentally debatable if passing fewer laws is a good thing, a bad thing, or just a completely meaningless number since of course the impact of laws varies widely.  I’m guessing in reality, it is a pretty meaningless number.

But I noticed that in many of these debates, there was a lack of rigor in the ways these numbers were used.  For instance, it seemed common to compare the current number of laws passed in the 113th, to the TOTAL passed in the 112th or 111th.  Or maybe talking about the “pace” at which legislation was being passed as if there was an expectation that this would continue linearly.  Never did I hear a comparison that actually looked specifically at where the previous congresses had been at the same point in the cycle.

In fact, although there are some repeating patterns to be sure, legislation does not tend to be passed at a steady pace throughout the two years of a congress.  Rather, it is very slow for the first six months, then tends to speed up to a more steady pace after that, which aside from fits and starts for vacations and “big days” when the congress passes many small non-controversial laws, continues up until the next election day…  then lawmaking seems to accelerate quite a bit in the lame duck session.

At least that was the pattern in the 111th and 112th.

In any case, despite all the hype, the 113th has generally been close to the 112th on this metric.  Usually a little behind, but close. And at various times it has pulled slightly ahead.

Today’s quarterly update is one of those times.  As I post, we are 635 days into the congress.  At this point the 113th has passed and the president has signed into law 182 public laws.  At the same point in the 112th congress, only 178 laws had been signed.  So at this very moment, the 113th is actually AHEAD of where the 112th was.  Now, this is unlikely to last, as it seems this is just because the 113th scheduled one of their “big days” a little earlier than the 112th did.  So with congress currently in recess, the 112th is likely to catch up in early October.  For the moment though, the 113th is ahead.

Of course, both are far behind the 111th, which had 252 laws signed by this time.

Here are the graphs:

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 20.46.27

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 20.46.17

Pics from Aug 2014

987 pictures from August. First pass narrowed it to 75. Culling it down to 31 for this post. The last few killed were hard choices as usual.

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2014-08-01 00:50 UTC – We start out the month with Amy in a cat hat.

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2014-08-02 03:06 UTC – Alex is getting better and better at walking Roscoe.

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2014-08-02 19:39 UTC – Roscoe always likes to rest after his walks.

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2014-08-04 04:25 UTC – We sometimes put Alex in a cage.

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2014-08-04 04:33 UTC – Alex playing with a wooden car by the light of a night light.

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2014-08-09 21:31 UTC – Alex will follow his sister to the ends of the earth…  or to a science demonstration for kids at my company picnic.

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2014-08-09 22:00 UTC – Alex chasing a ball at the company picnic. And yes, the “picnic” was inside. No grass or trees to be seen.

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2014-08-09 22:10 UTC – Once Alex was tired of the picnic, we walked a bit in the city.  Well, I walked.  Alex rode.  He is about 45 pounds now, so this usually doesn’t last too long.

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2014-08-09 22:40 UTC – When we were done exploring, we hung out in Pioneer Square for awhile until Mommy could swing around with the car and pick us up.

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2014-08-09 22:55 UTC – This seagull kept watching us.

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2014-08-10 16:51 UTC – One Sunday I accompanied my mom to a church where she was doing the fill in minister thing for the day.

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2014-08-10 18:28 UTC – Here she is doing the meet and greet thing after the service.

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2014-08-10 19:30 UTC – After the service, time for a day trip to Canada! Observe the grandeur and majesty of the border crossing!

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2014-08-10 20:24 UTC – We found a small tourist town to have lunch in.

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2014-08-10 20:32 UTC – My mom was wearing this owl. It kept staring at me.

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2014-08-10 21:13 UTC – We saw some pretty views along a river.

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2014-08-10 21:24 UTC – We saw some train stuff.

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2014-08-10 23:18 UTC – Then we went to a park across the channel from the Vancouver airport. (Click to enbiggen the panorama.)

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2014-08-10 23:22 UTC – We watched some big planes take off.

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2014-08-10 23:28 UTC – And a bunch of little ones too. These were taking off from the channel of course.

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2014-08-11 03:09 UTC – Then after dinner, we headed back to the US. Much shoddier and more run down border crossing this time.

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2014-08-13 01:46 UTC – Back at home, all summer long, Alex almost never missed a day playing with the hose. He would water the lawn, all the plants and bushes, the cars, himself, and anybody crazy enough to get within range.

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2014-08-22 03:50 UTC – Later in the month I took Brandy to a concert.

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2014-08-24 18:24 UTC – At school Alex is starting to learn geography.

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2014-08-30 01:44 UTC (photo by Brandy) – Then we went to a fair.  We went on this slide.  Amy went first while Alex and I waited at the top.

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2014-08-30 01:44 UTC (photo by Brandy) – Then Alex changed his mind and didn’t want to go. But it was too late. So I held his hand. I was not supposed to do that. Because I essentially ended up dragging him down.  And since I was holding onto his hand, he spun onto his side. This was scary and unpleasant. There were tears. But he forgave me a few minutes later.

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2014-08-30 02:01 UTC – Amy and Alex went fishing. Eventually Alex caught one of the fish and won a toy car.

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2014-08-30 03:14 UTC – After dark, there were lots of lit up spinning things to watch.

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2014-08-30 03:26 UTC – Amy won a donut, but let Alex wear it.

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2014-08-30 03:53 UTC – Alex had said for months that he did not want a haircut until he could put his hair in his mouth. Now he can, but he has changed his mind. He still does not want a haircut.

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2014-08-30 04:50 UTC – At a certain point, Alex was done and just bolted to head back to the car on his own. He was headed the wrong way of course. I caught him and we walked back to the car together.  Amy and Brandy joined us awhile later. :-)

@abulsme tweets from 2014-09-29 (UTC)

@abulsme tweets from 2014-09-28 (UTC)

@abulsme tweets from 2014-09-27 (UTC)

@abulsme tweets from 2014-09-26 (UTC)

Curmudgeon’s Corner: Nuke the Penguins Again

In the latest Curmudgeon’s Corner Sam and Ivan talk about:
* Bad Commute
* Bombing Syria
* Money in Politics
* Climate Change / Apple Woes

Recorded on 25 Sep 2014

Length this week – 1:11:53

 1-Click Subscribe in iTunes Download MP3 File
 View Podcast in iTunes  View Raw XML Feed

Electoral College poll updates from 2014-09-25 (UTC)

@abulsme tweets from 2014-09-25 (UTC)

Electoral College poll updates from 2014-09-24 (UTC)