This Christmas, Coal for Congress -- Literally - NBC4 Washington
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This Christmas, Coal for Congress -- Literally



    Santa knows if you've been bad or good -- and so, apparently, does the business community.

    The Greater Washington Board of Trade presented 535 individually addressed pieces of coal Friday morning, one for each member of Congress, to express their frustration with political gridlock.

    As they did, news broke that Congress had approved a two-month payroll tax cut extension, ending the standstill that had threatened the paychecks of millions of Americans.

    But the payroll tax plan debacle wasn't the only the complaint the board had, citing the threatened shutdown of the federal government early in 2011.

    "Businesses throughout Greater Washington lost money and productivity" due to the looming shutdown, said board president and CEO Jim Dinegar during the Very Special presentation of coal.

    "Consumers across the region, including our military personnel, were mostly on hold as they waited to hear whether they would be getting paid," he said. "Hotels saw cancellations for government programs, and our contracting community put shutdown plans into place."

    Businesses have also delayed hiring decisions, expansions and the purchase of new equipment, and can't invest in innovative ventures right now, the board says.

    "This region, because of its inter-dependencies with the federal government, is disproportionately disrupted when Congress fails to deliver against the basic responsibilities of budgeting and debt management," the group said in a press release.

    Dinegar spoke on the specific concerns resulting from the inaction on Capitol Hill, against a backdrop of a holiday tree, Santa's chair -- and a giant bag of coal.

    "Because the 2011 Congress has not been 'very good,' we are expressing our displeasure by sending each senator and Congressional representative a lump of coal," he said. "It is our hope to send them something nicer next year. Perhaps a pair of socks."