WASHINGTON – On Capitol Hill, yesterday was a rare day in which the House could do something important by doing absolutely nothing at all.
The task: stave off a government shutdown by passing a budget extension that would get the federal government through the weekend. It would not require a vote. It would not take the whole 435-member House.
Thanks to an unusual procedural tactic, all that was required was for a handful of legislators to show up – and then shut up. Their silence would be interpreted as “unanimous consent,’’ and the bill would pass.
Some doubters thought that even this might be too much to ask. But this Congress, which has had a fantastic amount of practice in doing nothing, proved them wrong.
“I ask unanimous consent,’’ said Representative John Abney Culberson, Republican of Texas, to “concur in the Senate amendments.’’
“Without objection, the Senate amendments are concurred in,’’ said Representative Andy Harris, Republican of Maryland, who presided over the five-minute, 46-second session.