Lame-duck sessions in Congress are abominable. When many members of the voting body are no longer accountable to voters because they’re leaving, that’s usually the worst time to be pushing legislation. But when the lame-duck session precedes a power change, it’s the final opportunity for a party to make an impact. When the opportunity is fleeting, you take it. That’s politics.
Unfortunately, many Republicans on Capitol Hill seem reluctant to get their act together and push conservative initiatives while they still have time. Mitch McConnell wants to push through more judicial nominees. Why? Because it’s a popular move to the base. They love hearing about more originalists confirmed to the various courts of the land.
This is ludicrous. They don’t need the House to confirm nominees and their Senate majority will be larger next session. There’s absolutely no good reason for McConnell to be pushing confirmations during the lame-duck other than solidifying his reputation as a confirmation king. I’ll acknowledge he’s been very effective so far with judges, but he can be just as effective doing it next year. Instead, he’s squandering time and efforts on it now.
The other big time-waster is the bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, the First Step Act. If it’s bipartisan, it can be passed when the Democrats take control of the House in January. Why in the world would that be a top priority during the lame-duck session? It’s not a slam dunk among Republicans with a handful wanting public debate that will cost them precious time. If it can pass in the future, they need to put it off until then.
Don’t even get me started on the Mueller “protection” bill. Even if we ignore the Constitutional ambiguities associated with it, we can’t ignore the fact that outbound Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is the one pushing for it from the Republican side. His threat? Holding up confirmations. McConnell’s response should be, “go for it.”
The judges can be confirmed on the other side of the break.
What should Republicans be doing over the next 2-3 weeks? First, they need to get their priorities straight. Then, they need to inform everyone that Christmas break is on hold until they get their agenda complete. Longer hours and working weekends are required.
Does that sound too harsh ahead of Christmas? Boo hoo. These are representatives who have done such a foul job while they had control of both chambers of Congress that one of those chambers was taken away from them. They screwed up the last two years despite a small handful of victories, and now they want to rush home to be with their families. I have no sympathy for them. Do your jobs. Set your priorities and get to work.
Here are those priorities. There should be more, but we can’t expect so much from the incompetent band on Capitol Hill. Keep it simple and they might be able to get it done.
Priorities during lame-duck session
Senator Ted Cruz seems to be one of the only Republicans calling for conservative measures to be taken before they lose control of the House. He’s absolutely right and has listed many things he’d like to see accomplished before they go home for the rest of the year.
We can’t expect them to get many things done, but at the very least they need to do these three things:
Fund the wall. Period.
Heck, if they can do this I’d actually be only mildly upset if they missed everything else.
Here’s the reality. If they do not fund the wall now, there is zero chance soon-to-be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will do anything but laugh at funding it in the future. This is the last chance for the next two years at least.
Fund the wall. President Trump has threatened to shut down the government if they don’t. Let’s not test him. Just fund the damn wall like you promised through two elections now..
Cut taxes again
They did it once. They can do it again. It worked the first time. It’ll work again. This should be a no-brainer, unless somehow they believe Pelosi has changed. She’s never seen a tax she thought was too high.
Stop using taxpayer dollars to murder preborn babies or fund Democrats’ election campaigns
The federal dollars given to Planned Parenthood aren’t allocated for abortions or giving money to Democratic election campaigns. Those dollars come from different accounting lines.
Guess what. If they defund Planned Parenthood, that money will get replaced by funds that currently go towards killing preborn babies and funding Democrats. It may not be direct funding, but the source of this dollar going to that part of Planned Parenthood is all basic accounting tricks.
Just like the wall and tax cuts, Republicans will not have another chance at defunding Planned Parenthood for at least two years if they don’t do it now.
If the GOP would stop doing the things they can do next year and focus on the things they can only do while they still have control, then maybe they can make an impact. As of now, they’re acting like they’re ready to throw in the towel.