What Are They Think­ing?

Calhoun Times - - FRONT PAGE - Ken Her­ron

I look at the prob­lems that Con­gress faces and many of them seem so sim­ple. It should take a day to write the bill. It should take an­other day to in­tro­duce it. It should take an­other day to clear a com­mit­tee vote. It should take a day to pass the bill in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. When it comes to the Se­nate, it should take a day to in­tro­duce it and send it to a com­mit­tee. Give it an­other day to clear the com­mit­tee. The fol­low­ing day it should pass the Se­nate. The fol­low­ing day, the pres­i­dent should sign it and it be­comes the law. That should be about eight days. The an­swer to so many of our prob­lems are so ob­vi­ous that they can be solved in just over a week. It is as ob­vi­ous to Pres­i­dent Trump as it is to me. He made the prom­ises on the cam­paign trail and he has been in of­fice just over nine months. The only prom­ises he has been able to fin­ish are the ones he has solved with Ex­ec­u­tive Or­ders.

Con­gress has sent 53 bills to the Pres­i­dent, which he has signed. Two of them es­tab­lished new pol­icy. Fif­teen of them rolled back Obama’s reg­u­la­tions. Ten of them des­ig­nated new names for USA land­marks. Eleven of them amended cur­rent laws. Fif­teen of them re­lated to gov­ern­ment fund­ing. Noth­ing re­lat­ing to health­care. Noth­ing re­lat­ing to il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. Noth­ing re­lat­ing to our na­tional drug prob­lems. Noth­ing re­lat­ing to our tax sys­tem. Noth­ing re­lat­ing to our bud­get deficit. Noth­ing re­lat­ing to our trade poli­cies.

Both Houses of Con­gress are re­spon­si­ble for the lack of ac­tion. The Se­nate has pro­ce­dural prob­lems re­lat­ing to the Fili­buster Rule. This is a rule that re­quires 60 votes to close de­bate on a bill. Pass­ing the bill only re­quires 50 votes and the vote of the Vice Pres­i­dent. Repub­li­cans have a ma­jor­ity of 52 votes out of 100, but three to five of them are RINOs (Repub­li­can In Name Only) that vote with the Democrats part of the time. Three of the five are “Never Trump” peo­ple that will vote against a good bill if it will hurt Pres­i­dent Trump. We have no Democrats that vote with the Repub­li­cans on crit­i­cal is­sues. Se­na­tor McCon­nell states that thirty six of the se­na­tors would vote against elim­i­nat­ing the Fili­buster Rule so that he can­not change it. A num­ber of the prom­ises that were made by Pres­i­dent Trump have had bills passed from the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. This is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of Speaker Paul Ryan. Some of the is­sues have not been tack­led yet. The bor­der wall does not have fund­ing. The Tax Bill has not been passed. Some­times I won­der if we do not need a com­plete change in the lead­ers of both houses.

Term Lim­its on both houses of Con­gress would solve some of th­ese prob­lems. Our Con­gress will never pass a law like this be­cause the ben­e­fits of be­ing in Con­gress are far bet­ter than any em­ploy­ment that most of them could get back in their home dis­tricts. Many of them come to Washington with very few as­sets and leave with an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of mil­lions of dol­lars. There are groups that are try­ing to get a Con­sti­tu­tional Amend­ment for Term Lim­its and a Bal­anced Bud­get but th­ese re­quire two thirds of the state leg­is­la­tures to vote for a con­ven­tion ac­cord­ing to Ar­ti­cle five of the Con­sti­tu­tion. They don’t have a chance of achiev­ing this by get­ting state leg­is­la­tures that do not have term lim­its on them­selves to vote for a con­ven­tion. All of the State Leg­is­la­tors are just wait­ing for an op­por­tu­nity to run for Con­gress and they do not want to limit their term if they can get elected. It would also cause pres­sure on the state leg­is­la­tures to pass a law to limit their own term within the state gov­ern­ment. Term Lim­its are a Con­sti­tu­tional is­sue and re­quires an amend­ment to change them.

It also is un­be­liev­able that our Con­gress is so par­ti­san that a good bill will not get the votes to pass strictly be­cause it was of­fered by the other party. We are all cit­i­zens of the same na­tion and the bills that are good for one group should also be good for the other group. The Repub­li­can lead­ers of Se­na­tor McCon­nell and Con­gress­man Ryan and the Demo­cratic lead­ers of Se­na­tor Schumer and Con­gress­woman Pelosi have so much power in com­mit­tee ap­point­ments that they can con­trol their mem­bers to an un­be­liev­able level. They are afraid to vote any other way than what they are told to vote. The founders of our na­tion en­vi­sioned that mem­bers of Con­gress would be in­de­pen­dent and use their own judg­ment to make de­ci­sions on leg­is­la­tion.

Speaker Paul Ryan has al­lowed bills to be sent to the Se­nate that he knew would not get to the Pres­i­dent for his sig­na­ture. Speaker Ryan is in fa­vor of solv­ing the DACA prob­lem con­cern­ing chil­dren that were brought to the USA as mi­nors by giv­ing them the right to be­come cit­i­zens. He is also against build­ing a wall on the south­ern bor­der. His re­elec­tion as speaker comes up with the new Con­gress in 2019 and the chances of chang­ing leadership is very slim. How mem­bers of Con­gress vote is public and if a mem­ber votes against Speaker Ryan and Speaker Ryan re­tains his po­si­tion, that Con­gress­man may as well not be in Washington.

It is not un­com­mon for the party that holds the Pres­i­dency to lose Con­gres­sional po­si­tions in the first off year elec­tion. One third of the Se­na­tors and all of the Con­gress­men will be up for re-elec­tion in 2018. In this elec­tion, Ge­or­gia will not have a vote on a Se­na­tor un­less Se­na­tor Isak­son re­tires for health rea­sons. Nei­ther Se­na­tor McCon­nell nor Se­na­tor Schumer are up for elec­tion in 2018 so we can­not ex­pect a change in leadership in the Se­nate. The lack of ac­tion on the part of Con­gress on the agenda that elected Pres­i­dent Trump may cause the Se­nate ma­jor­ity to pass over to the Democrats. The ac­tion the Repub­li­cans should be tak­ing right now is to talk to the Demo­cratic Se­na­tors that are up for re-elec­tion in 2018 in the states that voted for Trump for pres­i­dent. With the of­fer of good com­mit­tee ap­point­ments and im­proved of­fice fa­cil­i­ties, some of them might change par­ties and be­come Repub­li­cans.

Con­gress has cer­tainly been a dis­ap­point­ment to all of us this year.

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