Congress Successfully Avoids Near Catastrophe

Subtitle: Inert Congress Passes Inert Gas Law

Who said Congress can’t do anything important?  Oh, right, me.  This time, though, they actually accomplished something.  The Great Helium Shortage of 2013 has been narrowly avoided.  It’s less popular than the strategic oil reserve, but the U.S. also has a strategic helium reserve.  It was started when blimps looked like they could actually be a thing.  Oops.  The U.S. has been selling this helium on the open market since 1996, but the law authorizing it was about to expire.  Now, this may not seem like a big deal until you realize that sales from the helium reserve account for 50% of total helium sales in the U.S.  Ouch.  This could have been disastrous.  You may think of helium as just a gas that is used for party balloons and making your voice squeaky, but it’s used in all sorts of high tech manufacturing processes as well.  Luckily, a new law was passed that avoided the shutdown of the reserve.  The helium must flow.

Even this no-brainer legislation almost didn’t happen.  There was lots of argument on what to do with the money made from the sale of the helium.  In the end, an agreement was struck that would put a token amount towards deficit reduction and the rest towards other program.  Only one no-name person in the House voted against it.  The measure passed the senate 97-2.  Guess who voted against it?  If you guessed Ted “there ain’t a thing alive I won’t obstruct” Cruz, you win a party balloon.  The other was Jeff Sessions who, while I can’t fathom his reasons for voting against it, has proven to be quite the asshat in the past.

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