• Seth Hancock

America's Failed Congress of 2021

The Clarksvillian

“Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”—Mark Twain

Members of Congress make between $174,000 to $223,500, depending on their position, a year compared to the average American salary in 2020 of $51,169, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What do members of Congress do to “earn” their pay? Well, they simply press a button for “yea” or “nay.”

And wouldn’t you know it, that’s too much work for the oh, so venerable people of Washington, D.C. to do.

Last week on April 20, Democrat Rep. Steny Hoyer made a motion to suspend the House rules to be able to vote on 15 items with 1 vote. The motion needed a two-thirds majority to be approved, which it easily received at 355-69.

As Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) tweeted: “This is messed up! House Democrats suspended the rules and jammed 15 unrelated bills into one vote. They said it would take too long to vote on each of these bills individually. If that’s true, why are we quitting work this week at roughly noon on Thursday?”

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) forced a recorded vote so we can all know who thought it was too hard to push a button 15 times. Massie, of course, voted against the motion, but he was playing the good team player by simply saying it was House Democrats jamming the bills into one vote. The Democrats voted 214-2 for the motion and the Republicans supported it 141-67. Nearly every Republican in leadership voted for it including Leader Kevin McCarthy (California), Whip Steve Scalise (Louisiana) and Conference Chairman Liz Cheney (Wyoming). Republican Policy Committee Chairman Gary Palmer (Alabama) was the only member of leadership to oppose it.

Certainly, it’s unsurprising to see such laziness from the most entitled class of Americans, politicians. But, it’s yet another reminder of the warped attitude that exists in the political class. In a year where government has arrogantly defined American workers as either “essential” or “nonessential” and has caused millions to lose their jobs and their livelihoods, these political hacks are so brazen to pull such stunts.

Some congressmen are trying to change things and make their colleagues do their job. It’s usually to no avail, but they deserve a tip of the hat.

Massie attempted to force a recorded vote in March of last year on the CARES Act. That attempt failed as he stood out as a lone voice crying out from the wilderness against that socialist spending bill. After the vote, Massie said both McCarthy and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) worked together to stop members from having to go on record.

“I came here this week to make sure our Republic doesn’t die in an empty chamber by unanimous consent,” Massie said. “These people need to do their jobs. If they’re telling people to drive a truck, if they’re telling people to bag groceries, to grow their food, then by golly they can be in there and they can vote. And that’s what we did this week…. They don’t want a recorded vote. They don’t want to be on record of making the biggest mistake in history.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) introduced the "One Subject at a Time Act" in January. In the House, Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho) introduced the same act which has 10 co-sponsors, all Republican: Massie, Roy, Ralph Norman (South Carolina), Andy Biggs (Arizona), Bill Posey (Florida), Lauren Boebert (Colorado), Mo Brooks (Alabama), Mary Miller (Illinois), Claudia Tenney (New York) and Ben Cline (Virginia).

“In Idaho, legislative bills are limited to a single subject and voted on separately,” Fulcher said in a press release. “This practice holds every legislator accountable to their constituents because each topic has a separate and transparent vote…. This proposal will end ‘back room deals,’ large ‘must-pass’ bills, and restore trust in our representative government.”

The text of the bill states every “bill or joint resolution shall embrace only one subject” and an “appropriations bill shall not contain any general legislation or change of existing law provision, the subject of which is not germane to the subject of each such appropriations bill provided however, that this section shall not be construed to prohibit any provision imposing limitations upon the expenditure of funds so appropriated.”

It would require some honesty in naming bills stating the “subject of a bill or joint resolution shall be clearly and descriptively expressed in the title.”

In 2019, Rand Paul proposed the “Accelerating America’s Bankruptcy Act” in the Senate. Are you really surprised after witnessing the recent immigration issues on the southern border?

Maybe it’s just the nature of Congress. After all, the 19th-century humorist Mark Twain provided plenty of descriptors of that body back then that are still apt today. One more from Twain: “It is the foreign element that commits our crimes. There is no native criminal class except Congress.”

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