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Grading the Congress
by J. F. Kelly, Jr. [writer] 9/15/06

Much media emphasis is lavished lately on the plunging popularity of President George W. Bush. Far less is expended on the public approval rating of the Congress, which is even lower and, in my view, deservedly so. This has been an unproductive and disappointing Congress which has failed to address some truly urgent issues.

J.F. Kelly, Jr.

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]

With mid-term elections fast approaching, it is time for voters to evaluate the performance of their elected representatives and determine their worthiness for reelection or higher office. In doing so, voters should grade them, not on their speech-making talents or cleverness in criticizing their political opponents, but rather on what they have actually accomplished or, more to the point, failed to accomplish. Let’s start with the failures since they come so quickly to mind.

First of all, they weren’t very productive in the area of lawmaking, supposedly their primary duty, preferring to focus instead on posturing for reelection or running for higher office and taking positions on the president’s performance of his duties particularly with regard to the prosecution of the war on terrorism. This is easier, of course, than the hard work of crafting needed legislation. The Senate, perhaps, deserves the most blame, having blocked important actions that were passed by the House, especially regarding illegal immigration, oil drilling in Alaska, UN reform and repeal of the death tax, to name a few. The Senate also continues to abuse the advice and consent function by blocking presidential judicial appointments, denying obviously qualified candidates a fair hearing for purely partisan, political reasons.

But the Senate’s biggest failure has been its unwillingness to deal with the pressing problem of illegal immigration after the House passed a bill that would emphasize enforcement measures and make sneaking into this country a felony instead of a misdemeanor as it is now. Lacking the political courage to act on this urgent issue because of fears of losing Hispanic votes defies public demand for action now to secure our borders and has caused valuable time to be lost in stemming the flow of illegals, still estimated to be at least half a million a year.

Instead of a serious attempt to reach a compromise between the House bill and a more comprehensive approach favored by the White House and most of the senators that would include a guest worker program and some path to citizenship, both chambers opted to pass on the issue. Instead, a series of carefully orchestrated public hearings was staged in a feeble attempt to convince the public that their views were actually being listened to.

But if the members were, in fact, listening, they would have heard that most Americans are at the end of their patience with the continued inability to control our borders and the continued flagrant violation of our immigration laws. They would know that Americans are tired of the crime and violence associated with smuggling humans and drugs across the border, the trashing of private property, the high speed chases involving vehicles overloaded with illegals recklessly trying to evade the police and endangering innocent lives, the expense of treating illegals at hospitals and emergency rooms and paying for the education of their children at tax supported schools. And if they were really listening, they would have heard that what most Americans were demanding was not comprehensive immigration reform, but an end to illegal immigration now to keep the crisis from getting worse. The reform part, including a guest worker program, can wait until after the border is fixed.

While the Senate gets the worst grades, the House didn’t do much better. Its appetite for pork and special interest spending blocked needed reform of the earmarking process. This Republican-controlled Congress spent money like—well, Democrats.

The war on terrorism has been impeded by the failure of Congress, as of this writing, to come up with legislation to provide rules for the trial of terrorists by military tribunals in view of the Supreme Court’s unfortunate ruling that the current rules wouldn’t do. Democratic legislators with few exceptions, notable among them Sen. Joe Lieberman, seem to feel that their primary purpose is to criticize the president’s conduct of the war. They appear to be more comfortable telling the president how to do his job than they are doing their own, not that they have much to offer beyond criticism.
Criticism, of course, does not constitute a strategy. They would do well to remember that they were elected by the voters of a single state or congressional district to represent those voters, not to run the country or prosecute the war. Voters nationwide elect a president to do that.

Now for some major accomplishments. Let’s see--.Let me get back to you on that when I think of some. CRO

copyright 2006 J. F. Kelly, Jr.



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