A Republican form of government requires that though we may have differing views on how to accomplish this goal, we present our best proposals, debate them vigorously and vote to implement the best solutions. This is what the Founders intended when they wrote our Constitution and why our Nation has been one of the most successful in the history of the world.
This is also a fundamental principle that seems to have escaped the United States Senate.
As of today, there are now 28 pieces of legislation that have been passed by the House of Representatives, but have not yet had any action taken by the Senate. These are GOP-sponsored bills and as such, likely have little chance of passing the Democratic controlled Senate, but that fact misses the point. The point is simple. While the Democrats will likely defeat the bills, by not having a debate and ultimately, a vote, they are failing in their responsibility to legislate.
Some may say that debating and voting on these pieces of legislation is a waste of time, but to that I would ask one simple question. Why did we send our Senators to Washington if they refuse to even have a discussion about possible solutions?
I clearly recognize that most, if not all, of this legislation would surely fail, but I find it shameful that the Senate, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, won’t even discuss the issues. I also recognize that if the tables were turned, the Republicans would probably be doing the same thing, however that does not absolve the Senate of its responsibility.
Regardless of party, it is an absolute failure of leadership when our Senators refuse to even consider a proposal from their political opponents for what is clearly nothing more than ideological reasons (and it’s ironic that the Democrats have been accusing the Republicans of doing exactly what they are currently engaged in).
Following is a list of the legislation on which the Senate has failed to take any action:
H.R. 3630 – The Middle Class Tax Relief & Job Creation Act of 2011
H.R. 1633 – Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011
H.R. 10 – Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2011
H.R. 3010 – Regulatory Accountability Act of 2011
H.R. 527 – Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2011
H.R. 3012 – Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2011
H.R. 3094 – Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act
H.R. 2930 – Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act
H.R. 2940 – Access to Capital for Job Creators Act
H.R. 1965 – To amend the securities laws to establish certain thresholds for shareholder registration
H.R. 1070 – Small Company Capital Formation Act of 2011
H.R. 1904 – Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act of 2011
H.R. 2273 – Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act
H.R. 2681 – Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011
H.R. 2250 – EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011
H.R. 2401 – Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2011 (TRAIN Act)
H.R. 2587 – Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act
H.R. 1938 – North American-Made Energy Security Act
H.R. 1315 – Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act of 2011
H.R. 2018 – Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011
H.R. 2021 – Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011
H.R. 1231 – Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act
H.R. 1229 – Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act
H.R. 1230 – Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act
H.Con.Res. 34 – Establishing the budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2012
H.R. 910 – Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011
H.J.Res. 37 – Disapproving the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission
H.R. 872 – Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011
I’m not writing this to take any particular position on any of this legislation. I’m not supporting or opposing anything listed here. What I am attempting to do is to bring some attention to the fact that the Senate, in its infinite wisdom, has decided not to even have a discussion about these bills. Whether or not any of them will pass is completely irrelevant. Refusing to have the debate is nothing short of Senator Reid and his supporters in the Senate deciding that they know better than the rest of the chamber, and the American people, what the best course of action for our country is.
If this doesn’t make you angry, it should. The primary Constitutional obligation of both houses of Congress is to legislate. The Senate is knowingly and willingly ignoring this obligation because they’re too busy playing politics to take their responsibility seriously. Instead, they take the elitist position that somehow they know better than the rest us what the outcome of any debate may be. This is just wrong. The Senators that support this position are willfully bypassing the democratic process for their own political purposes and do not deserve to represent their constituents in Congress.
The fundamental principle of a functioning Republic requires debating an issue and voting on proposals to solve the underlying problem. This, in fact, is the primary responsibility of our Congressional Representatives, yet these bills have been languishing with no action having been taken. It is not unreasonable to expect that our Senators leave the partisan politics behind and do what they have been sent to Washington to do.
If you also believe that this is not unreasonable, they I urge you to email, write or call your Senators and tell them so.
UPDATE – 12/20/2011
Shortly after writing this post, the Senate took action on the Payroll Tax Cut bill (HR 3630). Though they didn’t do much with the House bill, they passed their own version with a few differences (mainly in how it’s paid for – mortgage fees versus spending cuts). The most significant difference is that the House bill extends the tax cuts for one year, but the Senate only extends them for two months to “give Congress time” to resolve the differences.
In short, these people couldn’t do their jobs, so the solution is to pass what is effectively a CR so they don’t have to finish their homework until tomorrow.
UPDATE – 12/22/2011
After a few days of political infighting, it appears that Speaker Boehner has persuaded the GOP to pass the Senate bill in order to avoid the tax cuts expiring. Now, we get to have the same fight again in February. Yippee.
UPDATE – 12/24/2011
President Obama signed Congress’ compromise bill for a two month extension. So now, it’s the entire Legislative and Executive branches that are inept.