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  1. Opinion

The many accomplishments of the 'do-nothing’ U.S. House | Editorial

The House has passed scores of bills only to have them stall in Mitch McConnell’s Senate.

President Donald Trump tweets about the “Do Nothing Democrat Savages” in the U.S. House. The reality is the Democratically controlled House under Speaker Nancy Pelosi already has had a productive year. It has passed legislation that would ban drilling off the coast of Florida, reform campaign finance and tighten background checks for gun buyers, among scores of other issues.

The Republican-controlled Senate, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is holding everything up. Rather than act as an obstructionist, McConnell should allow the Senate to make changes to the legislation and negotiate a final version with the House -- or vote the House legislation up or down. Until then, stick the “do-nothing” label on McConnell’s chest. Here are half a dozen key measures that have passed with House, usually with at least some Republican support, only to be buried by inaction in the Senate.

Florida offshore drilling.

The Development Driller III, which drilled the relief well and pumped the cement to seal the Macondo well, the source of the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil spill, is seen in the Gulf Of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana, on the day well was declared dead. [ GERALD HERBERT | Associated Press ]

Sponsored by Republican Rep. Francis Rooney of Naples, the Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act (HR 205) would permanently ban drilling off the state’s west coast in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. It passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 248-180, with overwhelming Democratic support and all but one Florida Republican agreeing.

The inaction in McConnell’s Senate? The bill has languished in committee for weeks.

Background checks on gun buyers.

AR-15 style guns are displayed at the In Guns We Trust LLC booth during the Tampa Gun Show in Feb. 2018 at the State Fairgrounds. [ URSO, CHRIS ]

This common-sense gun bill (HR 8) would prohibit transferring a firearm between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer or similar agent first takes possession of the gun to conduct a background check. While allowing exceptions, such as giving a gun to a spouse, this legislation would close the so-called "gun show loophole.'' It passed the House in February by a vote of 240-190 with eight Republicans in favor.

The inaction in McConnell’s Senate? It has gone nowhere while McConnell awaits word from President Donald Trump on which gun safety regulations he would support.

Marijuana banking.

Marijuana grows at an indoor cannabis farm in Gardena, Calif. [ RICHARD VOGEL | AP ]

Federal regulations make it nearly impossible for banks to handle the legitimate business of legal medical and recreational marijuana. The Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act (HR 1595) remedies that by prohibiting federal banking regulators from penalizing banks for dealing with legal marijuana business. It had such overwhelming House support -- including 91 Republicans -- that the chamber suspended rules to pass it quickly by a 321-103 vote.

The inaction in McConnell’s Senate? It was referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs last month.

The American Dream and Promise Act.

A Dreamers rally

This bill (HR 6) would grant recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — the “Dreamers’” who were born in another country and came to the United States as children — conditional permanent resident status for 10 years and cancel removal proceedings if they meet certain standards. It passed the House in early June by a vote of 237-187 with seven Republicans joining the majority.

The inaction in McConnell’s Senate? The bill has been dormant since June.

Campaign finance and voter reform.

This bill (HR 1) expands voter registration and voting access, makes Election Day a federal holiday and limits removing voters from voter rolls. It inhibits gerrymandering by helping states establish independent, nonpartisan redistricting commissions. It also improves election security and reforms campaign finance, including a provision to eliminate “Zombie Campaign” abuses, which have allowed former members of Congress to keep spending from their political committees long after leaving office. It passed the House in March by a vote of 234-193.

The inaction in McConnell’s Senate? No action.

$15 minimum wage.

Shantel Walker, an employee at Papa John's, speaks to a rally Tuesday in front of a McDonald's in New York as the group pushing for a $15-an-hour wage announced new protests.

The Raise the Wage Act (HR 582) would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025. The federal wage hasn’t gone up in a decade. In July, the bill passed the House by a vote of 231-199, with three Republicans in favor.

The inaction in McConnell’s Senate? Dormant since July.

Editorials are the institutional voice of the Tampa Bay Times. The members of the Editorial Board are Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash, Editor of Editorials Tim Nickens, and editorial writers Elizabeth Djinis, John Hill and Jim Verhulst. Follow @TBTimes_Opinion on Twitter for more opinion news.

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