Thousands of bills are introduced in a congressional session, but only a fraction become law. Even without that success, they call attention to their causes — or their sponsors. Here are a few of the eclectic measures awaiting action in
Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act: Would establish the Apollo Lunar Landing Sites National Historical Park on the moon.
Argument for: "In 1969, led by the late Apollo astronaut
Status: The bill has yet to get a hearing but has drawn plenty of ridicule. "We don't own the moon! We don't need a national park on the moon even if we did,'' said the Congressional Western Caucus. Citizens Against Government Waste said Edwards and the bill's co-sponsor, Rep.
Read the Bills Act: Would require legislation to be posted online one week before it comes up for a vote. The House version, sponsored by two Republicans, would exempt declarations of war. The
Argument for: "It is a basic moral question that a member of Congress should only vote to pass legislation having read and understood it," said Rep.
Status: No hearings yet.
Department of Peacebuilding Act: Would establish a Cabinet-level federal department, headed by the secretary of Peacebuilding, dedicated to reducing violence domestically and internationally.
Argument for: The department's duties would include facilitating peace summits between conflicting parties, creating a Peacebuilding Academy modeled after the military academies, and providing grants for college peace studies departments. "We invest hundreds of billions each year in the
Status: No hearings yet. The idea of a Department of Peace had been championed for more than a decade by then-Rep.
District of Columbia-Maryland Reunion Act: Would address the District of Columbia's long-standing grievance over lack of representation in Congress by turning over the district to Maryland except for a "National Capital Service Area" that includes the Capitol, the White House and monuments on the National Mall.
Argument for: "The District of Columbia would clearly and constitutionally have two senators and a representative with full voting rights by ceding the District of Columbia to Maryland," said Rep.
Status: Sitting in committee. The district's lack of a vote in Congress has long been a sore point in the city, which features "Taxation without representation" on its license plates. D.C. residents pay federal taxes and can vote for president but have no senator, and only a nonvoting delegate in the House. Legislation to give D.C. statehood has faced GOP resistance because the strongly Democratic district would probably elect two Democratic senators and a Democratic member of the House.
SPA Act: Would prohibit the operation of the House gym during a
Argument for: "If veterans' benefits processing, food assistance for women and children and medical research are not 'essential,' then the sauna, steam room and gym for members of Congress certainly are not," Rep.
Status: In committee. No one seems too exercised about the issue now that the government is open.