What Are They Thinking?
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.