Congress needs to govern

Published 10:18 am Friday, September 16, 2016

The U.S. Senate, back to work this week after its longest summer recess in 60 years, can’t wait to get back on the campaign trail.

Yep, senators up for re-election want to get out there among the people touting their accomplishments and the reasons why they deserve re-election.

The only problem is they need to accomplish some things for the American people in order to recess again, and that appears to be more than a small problem.

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Yes, that little issue of governing, the once declared function of congress and now the lead laugh line for any mention of Congress, seems to be once again getting in the way of a good vacation.

Eight months ago, President Obama requested Congress fund research and support to protect America against infection by the Zika carrying mosquitoes that can cause serious birth defects in pregnant women.

Congress did nothing beyond politicizing any bill proposed and to sit silently while Zika advanced to Puerto Rico and now to Southern Florida and northward. Now, nearly 17,000 Americans have been infected by Zika, including 1,600 pregnant women…and yet our congress extended their recess over the summer with no urgency to address the crisis.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that 25 percent of the population of Puerto Rico will have the Zika infection by the end of this year. That represents nearly one million people.

And where are the solutions? CDC Director Thomas Frieden says “Basically, we’re out of money, and we need Congress to act to allow us to respond effectively.”

So the first thing Congress did in this new and exciting session was to fail to pass a Zika billing 52-48. Now, as time winds down so Congress can once again adjourn to campaign for re-election, the senate turns its attention to a funding bill for government.

And guess what? No funding bill can pass in congress right now, so the Congress plans to extend current funding until after the fall elections. Or, alternatively, if a continuing bill fails, the government once again shuts down.

At this point, calling congress a “Do Nothing” Congress seems to give more credit than deserved to this collection of irresponsible talkers.

How one must ask, can these folks go out into their home communities and ask to be re-elected to continue to demonstrate that they are completely unable to perform their constitutional duties?

Consider the Portman case for re-election. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is terrifically funded this campaign to tout his accomplishments in the Senate. Only problem is, Portman has no accomplishments. In his six year term, he has introduced exactly zero bills that have become law, barring the dedication of a post office and an energy bill that asks the federal government to build more efficient buildings at a total budget cost of zero.

So to add to his somewhat small resume in the Senate, Portman uses his TV ad budget to say he is fighting for Ohio jobs by being against unfair trade agreements. Now that might be effective and noteworthy were it not for the fact that Rob Portman was George W. Bush’s trade representative, a job requiring Portman to construct and support trade agreements that took away U.S. jobs to advance global trade. An advocate for Ohio workers? Hardly.

But Portman is just one example among many of those elected to govern who have simply refused to govern. If, as an elected official, you can proudly say you could not advance the completion of the legally required federal budget, could not even prevent the spread of Zika to protect Americans, and could not pass any meaningful legislation, what is your motto?

Elect me…and I will fight for…me.


Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.