When U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stood at the front of the Senate chamber today and began to speak, it appeared that the presiding chair, Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), did not expect him to ask for September 25, 2020 to be designated as “National Lobster Day.” But, despite the chaos unfolding across the country, and a truly historic lack of meaningful legislation coming from this Congress, that’s exactly what happened.
The clip, as you can see, is glorious, particularly considering that our famously work-averse Senate has time for this but not for actual governance. But it wasn’t until I showed the clip to my wife—a 10-year veteran of the Senate who several years ago moved on to the private sector—that I learned just how often this happens.
While “Acts” actually accomplish things, Senate Resolutions (S.Res) and House of Representatives Resolutions (H.Res) are used to conduct housekeeping, to make ceremonial statements, and to advance low-level political agendas that don’t really have a direct impact on governance. They are presented in chronological order and the counting resets every two years, so S.Res 688 tells you just how many of these things there have been so far.
While some of these resolutions are at least symbolically important, in the words of my wife, “They’ve passed some truly stupid shit.” This includes things like S.Res.656 (“A resolution recognizing the importance of the blueberry industry to the United States and designating July 2020 as “National Blueberry Month”) or S.Res.654 (“A resolution designating July 25, 2020, as “National Day of the American Cowboy.”)
Perhaps what’s helping to propel this clip to greater fame—aside from Rick Scott’s wry smile—is the sight of Mitch McConnell mumbling his way through a Resolution elevating what is typically an expensive delicacy, during a time when an unprecedented number of Americans are turning to food banks. Or the fact that apparently the Senate has time for this when they can’t even get another working COVID relief bill together. Or maybe, as with so many other things this year, it just really sucks to learn how the sausage gets made.