Nightly News | December 09, 2011
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Meanwhile on Capitol Hill , across town, the House of Representatives was in session for two minutes today before leaving for the weekend, and they leave a lot of unfinished business as the year winds down. Some folks have revived the old Harry Truman rallying cry when he ran against the do-nothing Congress . That was back in 1948 . It worked for him. Our report tonight from NBC 's Kelly O'Donnell .
KELLY O'DONNELL reporting: Despite a very long to-do list, Congress left Washington for a long weekend.
Representative NANCY PELOSI (Democrat, House Democratic Leader): I wish we were still here in session, having these kinds of debates.
O'DONNELL: Urgent unfinished business that affects every working American on hold.
Senator CHARLES SCHUMER (Democrat, New York): Don't go home, Speaker Boehner , because we're going to be here and you'll be embarrassed before the American people if you do.
O'DONNELL: Today House Republicans did make public their plan to extend the payroll tax cut that Speaker Boehner had touted Thursday.
Representative BOEHNER: I think this is a bipartisan proposal that the president ought to endorse.
O'DONNELL: Today the president was unmoved.
Offscreen Voice: Any closer to a deal on the payroll tax cut today?
President BARACK OBAMA: Merry Christmas!
O'DONNELL: Another president, Harry Truman , gave this kind of Washington gridlock a do-nothing nickname back in 1948 .
President HARRY TRUMAN: This Republican idiots, do-nothing Congress toward labor.
O'DONNELL: History repeats and even outdoes itself. This Congress 's workload falls short. The House passed 326 bills, the Senate 368, the fewest since 1995 .
Mr. THOMAS MANN (Brookings Institution): By any reasonable historical standards has been extremely unproductive. Few days in sessions, few votes, few measures passed.
O'DONNELL: Senate Republicans say Democrats are responsible for the slow pace.
Senator MITCH McCONNELL (Republican, Minority Leader): President and the Senate that would rather spend their time doing cheap political theater.
O'DONNELL: Among the unresolved year-end fights, money to keep the government open runs out next week, long-term unemployment benefits are about to expire, Medicare doctors will take a big pay cut unless Congress prevents that. And that payroll tax automatically goes back up, on average about $1,000, unless Congress can find a way to agree. Kelly O'Donnell, NBC News, Washington .