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Lawmaker Describes Dysfunctional Congress

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Political gridlock is preventing lawmakers from bringing sanity to federal spending, according to Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D.

The current “run for cover Congress” is scheduled to work the fewest days of any Congress since the 1920s, Pomeroy said here at the annual meeting of the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting, Falls Church, Va.

“Big things don’t get done,” Pomeroy said. “Meanwhile, we don’t get the small things done, either.”

The House has not had substantial meetings to discuss issues such as the situation in Iraq or the budget, and it has not even been able to turn a popular bill focusing on corporate-owned life insurance into law, Pomeroy said.

Pomeroy, brother of former North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Glenn Pomeroy, has sponsored the COLI bill with Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-N.Y.

The bill would codify COLI standards proposed by life insurance groups. Provisions would increase disclosure requirements, implement employee consent rules and restrict the types of employees a COLI plan could cover.

For the most part, both Republicans and Democrats like the bill, and it would cost the government virtually nothing, Pomeroy said.

“There’s just one problem,” Pomeroy said. “We can’t pass it.”

COLI provisions were included in the Senate version of a major pension reform bill but were left out of the version of the bill passed by the House. The bill is now in conference, and the AALU has expressed optimism that the COLI provisions will be included in the conference report.

Pomeroy noted that Congress limits scoring of the amount of the federal budget that a bill will consume to a period of 10 years. As a result, instead of focusing on long-term solvency, Congress has passed tax cuts that soon will come back to haunt the government, Pomeroy said.


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