Obama's 'Schoolhouse Rock' lesson for Congress
August 23rd, 2013
10:34 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama's 'Schoolhouse Rock' lesson for Congress

(CNN) - President Barack Obama invoked a beloved children's cartoon to try to educate Congress on how to pass a budget.

"Maybe you're not old enough to remember 'Schoolhouse Rock'," the president said in an interview with CNN "New Day" anchor Chris Cuomo. "You remember how the bill gets passed? You know the House and the Senate try to work out their differences. They pass something. They send it to me, and potentially I sign it."

"If Congress simply does those two things when they get back," he added. "Then the economy can continue to recover."

His comments came as he expressed frustration with what he described as a glaring lack of action on Capitol Hill.

A longstanding ABC television series that turned 40 years old this year, "Schoolhouse Rock" was created by jazz pianist and vocalist Bob Dorough.

One of the most famous animated shorts teaches youngsters about the legislative process in Washington. A rolled up stack of papers with the nametag, "Bill," sings a catchy song about his long journey from a congressman's desk through the rough-and-tumble world of Congress.

"I'm just a bill. Yes I am only a bill. And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill," the bill sings.

He laments the lengthy debates that each chamber goes through as they mark up the legislation, all the while crossing his fingers that he'll make it to the president's desk.

"Then I'm off to the White House where I wait in a line, with a lot of other bills for the president to sign. And if he signs me then I'll be a law," he sings. "How I hope and pray that he will. But today I am still just a bill."

- CNN's Ashley Killough and Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.

Filed under: Congress • President Obama
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Wake up People!

    OMG!! I loved Schoolhouse Rock!!!

    I'm just a bill, yes I'm only a bill, and I'm sitting here on Capital Hill.
    Conjunction, junction what's your function?

    They should really bring those back. Not updated, just like they were.

    August 23, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  2. Data Driven

    As a child in the 70s, I can't even begin to tell you how educational Schoolhouse Rock was for me. I think "Bill" influenced me enough to take an unusually early interest in politics.

    I suppose I should hate him for it.

    August 23, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I'm just a bill. Yes I am only a bill. And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill," the bill sings."

    And a sitting ... and a sitting ... and a sitting.

    August 23, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  4. Wake up People!

    Me too DD!!

    August 23, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    LOL. Kids loved those cartoon shorts. The best short of the animated series was "Verb", in my opinion.

    August 23, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  6. sonny chapman

    Many things we learned as kids about America, especially during the Cold War, Red Scare & on the heels of America's greatest triumph, WW II, have turned out to be not quite true; starting with the Civil Rights fight. The folks who were on the wrong side of History on those issues are gone, but we have new ones to replace them-CONSERVATIVES.

    August 23, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  7. tea party days are numbered

    do the house of representives have drug and alcohol screenings they have to pass before they begin work? maybe they ought to look into doing that, most of the general population is required to pass before they begin work, then throw a few randoms in to keep them straight.

    August 23, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  8. wendel

    right on Mr. President. Amazing how many kids retained that information.

    August 23, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  9. PEPPY

    More lip service, does this guy ever work????

    August 23, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  10. Wake up People!

    Rudy, I'm having a brain poot moment this morning. Can you give me a few of the verb lyrics???

    August 23, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  11. Zerubbabel


    Verb, that's my man.

    August 23, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  12. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I suppose I should hate him for it."

    LOL. My daughters used to cringe whenever I spoke politics. I truly enjoyed the day my daughter and I (hand in hand with her 3 year old daughter) went together to sign up at Obama's 2008 headquarters in Minneapolis.

    Of course, I never mention her "growing up years" attitude.

    August 23, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Wake Up People wrote:

    "Conjunction, junction what's your function?"

    They should really bring those back. Not updated, just like they were.
    1. "Verb" <---– Every mother out there will LOVE this one.
    2. "Conjunction Junction"
    3. "Bill"

    August 23, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  14. RIchard Long

    I'm just a Bill, Obama's 2014 budget Bill
    Adding $5.2 Trillion in Deficits...


    I'm just a Bill, Obama's Cell Phone Tax Bill,
    Going to pass it right without Congress's approval...


    I'm just a Bill, Obama's Criminal Immigrant Amnesty Bill
    Don't care about the 7.6 unemployed US citizens here

    August 23, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  15. Jim8

    I fail to see the Republican's point most of the time.

    August 23, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    "Verb" sounds its' sung by a gospel choir. Very uplifting.

    I get my thing in action (Verb!)
    To be, to sing, to feel, to live (Verb!)
    (That's what's happenin')
    I put my heart in action (Verb!)
    To run, to go, to get, to give (Verb!)
    (You're what's happenin')

    I found that on Wiki_you can guess where. It's a LONG song.

    August 23, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  17. Warren

    Richard Long.
    Or The GOP
    GOP No
    GOP No
    GOP No

    August 23, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  18. Thom

    Jim8....... their point is to not allow the other party to do a good job, not matter what the cost to the country, and to break or change as many election laws as possible to keep the power from slipping away as it is...

    August 23, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. ED1

    The House has been doing that since you took office but the Senate always does the same thing dead on arrival. Did you tell the kids that didn't think so.

    You can't keep spending money you don't have kind of simple but must be to much for you and the Senate to understand.

    August 23, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  20. Rudy NYC


    I fail to see the Republican's point most of the time.
    It's a proven scientific fact. You cannot *see* a black hole.

    August 23, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. TwinkleDimes

    Unfortunately, President Obama closely studied and took to heart a follow-up Schoolhouse Rock in 1996 – "Tyrannosaurus Debt." Then, $5 trillion, now $17 trillion and growing. "Feeding time is all the time."

    August 23, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  22. Gunderson

    Holy Somolies,
    Maybe old Gunderson miss class but kinda hard to learn lessons/Pass Budget when Teacher no in class room, no? Maybe bus late to school.

    August 23, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |