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Getting Stuff Done

February 15, 2015

The GOP fought long and hard to retake control over Congress. In the 2010 midterm elections, they took control of the House of Representatives from the Democrats, vowing to repeal the Affordable Care Act – calling it Obamacare. Since then, they have voted over 50 times to repeal the law, only to have it die in a Senate controlled by the Democrats. Since the Republicans took control of the House, Congress has lurched from one deadline to the next, basically accomplishing less than any Congress in modern times. They barely avoided a debt ceiling crisis, limped along with continuing budget resolutions rather than a budget and even culminated in a two-week government shutdown in 2013 before agreeing to short-term funding.

In 2014, the GOP finally retook control of the Senate with another dominating midterm election performance. The House is now more thoroughly dominated by the GOP than it has been for decades. They can basically pass anything they want. If only they could get the Senate Republicans and a few Democrats to agree to it. There’s the rub. The Senate is still subject to the same rules as when the Democrats were in control, meaning most measures need 60 votes, not 51, to pass, due to filibusters. The Republicans in the House are far from a unified group on many issues. Yet they still cling to the demands of those calling for repeal of the Health Care law and continue passing that legislation knowing full well it will neither pass in the Senate nor survive a certain Presidential veto were it ever able to get that far.

Many Congressional Republicans were outraged when the President signed executive orders attempting to at least partially fix a broken immigration system that would have been largely repaired by a bipartisan bill that passed in the Senate, but which the Speaker and House Republicans refused to even vote on. Trying to get the executive orders cancelled or overwritten, they decided to play a new budgetary hostage-taking card by passing funding bills enabling the government to function through the end of the current fiscal year, which ends September 30. The one exception involved only funding Homeland Security through February. That’s less than two weeks away, and Congress is in one of its frequent recesses this week. To top that off, before heading off on recess, Congress (both House and Senate) passed and sent to President Obama a bill authorizing the building of the Keystone XL Pipeline, setting up the first of many possible veto confrontations between the President and the Republican Congress.

As for Keystone, the avowed reasoning behind GOP backing of the project is an abject sham. They tout it as a job creation bill, even though it would create fewer than a hundred jobs that lasted longer than it takes to actually build the pipeline. Environmental concerns, including the impact the pipeline and the oil it carries would have on climate change, far outweigh the economic impact of the few American jobs it creates, not to mention that the oil transported through it would ultimately be exported abroad and not improve gas prices in this country in the least. The potential (or should I say inevitable) environmental degradation caused by massive oil spills across the American heartland means that the main upside of the project goes to the Canadian firm strongly backing it, not to the American economy or workers. Trying to make us think we are drinking Koolaid which tastes an awful lot like dirty petroleum won’t work. The project should’ve been quashed years ago, but was kept alive for political reasons and potential corporate profits. The time has come too put an end to it, once and for all.

Building a time bomb into the Crominibus that Congress passed last December seems counterproductive, to say the least. The immigration bill passed by the Senate was far from perfect, though the President has said he was willing to work with it. Included in that are provisions which strengthen border security. Many people who opposed the bill did so on the grounds that it places too much emphasis on further militarizing the border (primarily the one with Mexico, of course). What sense does it make to show disapproval of the President’s loosening of restrictions on immigration as outlined in his executive orders by shutting down the government department most closely assigned to executing the laws pertaining to border security?

Instead of working on an acceptable immigration bill that can be signed into law, Congressional Republicans are putting themselves into a position where they may, in fact, cause at least a temporary shutdown of a key government department that it needs in order to just maintain the status quo dealing with immigration issues, rather than solve and improve on them. They continue to duck the main issue by refusing to pass the legislation they think is needed to resolve the many pressing long-term issues dealing with immigration. Shutting down Homeland Security will be blamed squarely on House Republicans, should it happen, and rightfully so. Mitch McConnell spoke with glee as he foresaw a new era of getting stuff done now that Republicans have control of both the House and Senate. At this point, it would appear that rumors of the death of DC gridlock were greatly exaggerated.

Once they extricate themselves (and us) from the Homeland Security mess, they get to deal with the whole budget for the next fiscal year, which promises to be as cantankerous as ever, judging from the proposals put forth by the Administration and the grumblings coming from the likes of Paul Ryan and the other Republican Congressional leaders dealing with government funding. Every single progressive-sounding proposal coming from the White House seems to be met with more of the tax-cuts-for-the-rich-and-big-corporations and cut-all-domestic-social-welfare-programs that we have learned to know and loathe from the GOP ever since Ronald Reagan gained the White House back in 1980. To top it off, they appear to remain unwilling to raise revenues to pay for ongoing and desired (by them at least) military adventures in the revised War on Terror.

President Obama may be willing to act more boldly to forge a lasting positive legacy for his administration in its remaining tenure, but I see no signs yet that the largely intact Republican leadership in Congress is any more willing to compromise for the good of the people (and by extension, the nation) than they were during their last session. Makes some of us wonder if not only the Chief Executive needs term limits. Incumbents seem comfortable with business as usual. We certainly need to take action to curb the undue influence of big money in our political campaigns and all sorts of laws affecting the election of legislative bodies and other officials at all levels who make up the government controlling our lives. Cut the crap. Do your jobs. Get stuff done. Pass laws, confirm appointments, fix problems to the benefit of the many, rather than the few who paid big money to get you elected and serve their interests. You govern the people. You allegedly represent all of us. Make it so the word “allegedly” has no place in that last sentence.

 

Further Suggested Readings:

Republicans having trouble with the whole ‘responsibility to govern’ thing

Homeland Security Chief Says 30,000 Will Be Furloughed If Department Shuts Down

Pelosi Tells Republicans To Stop Playing Games with the Safety of the American People

Congressional Republicans Continue To Play Politics With National Security

Boehner can’t rule out Homeland Security Department shutdown

Senate frozen amid DHS fight

Security Of The Nation Is Just Another Pawn In The Republican Political Games

Top Dem Slams Republicans for Endangering the American People by Forcing DHS To Shut Down

McConnell, after his no-shutdowns pledge, quickly finds himself boxed in

House, Senate GOP spar over DHS funding

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5 Comments
  1. Cynthia Lawton-Singer permalink

    I certainly don’t see the usefulness of term limits for legislators. As frustrating as it is having the same idiotic group of clowns pretending to be leaders, there are those who ARE real leaders and on behalf of the best interest of the people of this country. I speak of Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, and the whole Progressive Caucus in the House. They would be subject to the same term limits. We just need to make it much harder for self- serving corporatist sell-outs to be our only choices in many parts of the country. With Citizens United in place, it is almost impossible for potential candidates to consider running as winning is mostly determined by how much money you can raise so you can plaster the air waves with misinformation. And if your message is not one that will be picked up by the right wing echo chamber, you are out of luck. That is what we need to change. Other wise, I completely agree with your take on this Congress that just withers the American spirit right on the vine!

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    • Point taken. I agree the need for campaign finance reform is urgent. We need to stop the trend where legislators spend more time raising money than they do performing their constitutional duties. We need legislators more than we need professional fundraisers. The goal needs to be to serve the interests of the people living in your district, not merely staying in office as a career choice.

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    • I agree with you, but when a three-toothed trailer park unwed mother in Oklahoma is promised by the GOP rep that no more tornadoes will come if he’s elected (obviously untrue to someone educated to at least the fourth grade level), then her vote more or less cancels your vote out. And there’s far too many of her, I’m afraid.

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  2. Reblogged this on Rural Nevada Democratic Caucus and commented:
    Here’s a great post from Rick Cooley ….

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  3. The 2010 TAKEOVER of the House by the GOP is not a studied point of “history” which has been argued to consensus interpretation by voting adults. It has great relevance to this 2016 presidential election IMO in that it could be argued that 2010’s mid-term election outcome was in great part the result of a sexist crusade to oust the first woman Speaker of the House. Most people think of sexism in terms of direct overt misconduct like that of Roger Ailes wherein sex is leveraged in abuse of power. But there is also a covert sexism–similar to “dog-whistle” racial code, only in this case, for misogyny–defined as “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women”.

    All of you who were around in 2010 as mature observers of political goings-on may remember as I distinctly do, that most every political ad against a Democratic incumbent included a statement to the effect that this target of the ad not only voted for or against something the Republicans were in opposition to but did so “with Nancy Pelosi”. So and so “voted with Nancy Pelosi” for X, Y, or Z . Or, so and so, “voted with Nancy Pelosi” against A, B or C, as it were. It was incessant and clear, at least to me, that Nancy Pelosi’s name was gratuitously inserted where one would never have seen or heard the name of a male Speaker of the House who was a Democrat into a political attack ad. Can you imagine political ads saying so-and-so voted with Tip O’Neil for X. Y or Z? It would stand out like a sore thumb after one play on the air because it literally implies a relationship and a subordination that is not literal.

    Nancy Pelosi, the first-ever female Speaker of the House, was made a human tackle dummy by the right in their media blitz in 2010 and it barely registered that what was intended was a steadfast reminder that a woman (with an ethnically un-anglo last name no less) was out of her place–the proverbial kitchen?–asserting power to influence men to do her bidding. I take no issue with rcooly123’s blog and otherwise commend it except to draw light to the nature of the opening assertion that: “The GOP fought long and hard to retake control over Congress.” I feel if the lessons of the right’s reaction to the “firsts” to bring diversity to previously white male exclusively-dominated positions of power in governmnent are not interpreted and shared at every opportunity to reflect exposure of camouflaged biases, Democrats will have a tougher row to hoe in winning elections than they might otherwise realize. Thank you for reading. James T McGuiness Virginia Beach VA

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