(Bloomberg) — The U.S. House of Representatives is six weeks into its new session without saying which legislative priority will become H.R. 1.
The symbolic prized designation in past sessions has gone to proposals including the No Child Left Behind Act, the Sept. 11 Commission proposals and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
See also: H.R. 1 Frees FSAs And HRAs From 1099 Rules.
This year, Republicans who control the House left the number vacant as of Friday, as Congress begins a week-long Presidents’ Day break.
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Among thousands of bills to be introduced over the next two years, will H.R. 1 be set aside again for a hoped-for revamp of the U.S. tax code? Tax changes had that designation in 2013, though it was nothing more than an empty vessel until the waning days of 2014. Another possibility is a Republican alternative to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or a jobs initiative.
“We have not announced that at this point,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican.
Asked whether there was a lack of ideas or something in the works, Steel insisted, “the latter,” while declining to say more.
Rank-and-file Republicans say they haven’t been let in on the secret either.
“I have no idea. Wished I knew,” said Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina.
Democrats see the lack of an announced choice by Republicans as having more significance.
“I think they are confused about what their priorities are,” said Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee.
Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, said a still-vacant H.R. 1 is emblematic of a Congress that has gotten little done in its first six weeks.
“All we’ve seen from House Republicans is cut and paste, cut and paste,” Hammill said. “No jobs agenda, no new ideas. Just rehashed message bills that will never become law.”
Even with Republican control of both the House and Senate for the first time in eight years, just two public bills this session have become law. One is a terrorism-risk insurance measure. The other is a veterans’ suicide-prevention bill.
The House this week cleared S.1, the Senate version of a measure approving the Keystone XL Pipeline — the House bill is H.R. 3. President Barack Obama has said he’ll veto it.