The Legislative Process Under the Tea Party

Article 1, Section 1 of the United States Constitutions states:

All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

And under Section 7:

All Bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.

What this means is that under the US Constitution, all legislation, especially legislation regarding taxing or spending by the Federal Government must originate in the United States House of Representatives.

From there, the Senate can take up those bills, add amendments and pass them. If the two Bills do not match, under the rules of the Senate and House, a conference committee is convened where the differences are ironed out and then the Bills return to both bodies to be voted upon again. If both bodies vote in the affirmative, then and only then is the Bill submitted to the Executive for signature or Veto.

That is how it has worked for well over 200 years. Despite the misconception of many, the Executive Branch, otherwise known as the President does not have the ability to raise taxes, pay for anything, or enact any new legislation not already provided to him by the Congress from legislation that begins in the House of Representatives.

Neither Obama nor any president before him has raised or cut your taxes, that happens in the Congress.

Neither Obama nor any president before him have increased federal spending, that happens in the Congress.

The President has no powers outside of those given him in the Constitution of the United States and previous legislation passed in Congress and signed by the Executive. Again, despite the misconception of many, especially those on the far right, President Obama has not taxed, spend or has taken on any addition powers already granted him and previous presidents by previous Congresses.

Anyone from any side of the political aisle telling you different is either unfamiliar with basic Civics or are lying through their teeth, or both. However, since 2010 the legislative process in our Congress has changed placing what has worked for Congresses and Presidents for over 200 years on its head, almost making the process untenable. That problem has been the Tea Party, but it didn’t begin there.

When Barack Obama won in 2008 becoming the first Black President of the United States, the Republican Party already had issues with Democratic Presidents. In 1994 the extreme right wing conservatives lead by Newt Gingrich began changing what was for over 200 years a working relationship between the two parties in Congress and their interaction with the Executive. Though the two always fought, the nation always came first and the party not in power was considered the “loyal opposition”, opposed to those in the ruling party but not doing anything for personal power that would harm the nation as a whole.

Both parties had their share of liberals, moderates and conservatives but the Republican Party under Newt started marginalizing those who weren’t conservative. Further, Republicans in the House were forbidden to vote with Democrats on key issues. The best example of this was Bill Clinton’s tax increase that was passed in his first term while the Democrats controlled the House and Senate. Not a single Republican voted for the increase saying it would “destroy the economy.” Actually it ended up accelerating the nations’ prosperity and we had our greatest peace time economic boom in our history. Newt took control of the House in 1994 and began to work on marginalizing the Democratic President going so far as to impeaching him after orchestrating a government shutdown.

Now this is not to say there wasn’t cooperation between the Democrats and Republicans at this time between the Congress and Executive. Actually the nation did come first, but the areas of agreement were getting fewer and fewer as the Republicans more and more marginalized and removed the liberals and moderates from their party.

When George Bush became president in 2000, he and his Republican House and Senate cut taxes for the wealthy while increasing Federal Spending to fund two “undeclared” wars and two major Republican “entitlement” programs that were unfunded, namely “No Child Left Behind” and Medicare Part D. This resulted in the budget surplus left Bush quickly becoming a bigger and deeper budget deficit and increasing national debt. Keep in mind, Democrats joined in with Republicans in Congress for many of these votes.

In 2006 the Democrats took back the House and had control of the Senate. Despite having a Republican President, they worked with George Bush; they just slowed him down a bit. Bush was still able to get his foreign policy funded and though they complained about how he was handling the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they still stood with him at the “water’s edge” and backed him because he was our Commander in Chief.

So Obama is elected and on his inauguration night, several key Republican Leaders met to discuss how the GOP would be working with the president over the next four years. What they decided was that even though we were in the worst recession in our history, though we were still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, this president was not going to get any cooperation from the Republican Party at all.

This link discussed what happened that night:

Nothing in Draper’s book regarding this has been denied by any of the participants at that meeting. They were clear; they would make the Obama Presidency a failure regardless of what it could do to the nation so they could take power back in Congress two years later and the Presidency back in four. That was their plan and they stuck to it.

Fortunately the Democrats still controlled the House, but there were enough Republicans in the Senate to filibuster and block many key votes needed to help get this nation out of the recession and improve jobs and our economy. The Senate began raking up record number of filibusters. Were it not for a 30 day or so window when the Democrats had a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, ACA would have never passed.

So in 2010, due to a still depressed economy and low voter turnout, coupled with anger from the left against Obama for not being “liberal” enough, the Republicans with their new “Tea Party” support took the House, though they were unable to take the Senate.

Now as I mentioned at the beginning of this rant, the House of Representatives is where all legislation to include taxation and spending originates. With the Tea Party running the show and despite John Boehner running the House campaign on the pledge “Jobs First” they didn’t put up any job Bills for consideration. Instead they started a long series of “repeal ObamaCare” votes. No Bills were put up for a vote in the Tea Party Controlled House beginning in 2011 that was designed to do anything to improve our economy. In fact, they began toying with the idea of defaulting on our National Debt and by doing so dragging this country and the entire World into another Depression.

While this was going on, Mitch McConnell and his Republicans who were in lock step with the Tea Party faction, began a new record series of filibusters to block passage of any bills from the Democrats who controlled the Senate being passed that would aid in the recovery of the nation’s economy.

None of the Bills passed in the House had any chance of passage in the Senate let alone the chance of being signed by Obama.

The 112th Congress became famous for being the least productive Congress in our nation’s history. They passed fewer Bills on to the President than any previous Congress. More and more, the President had to rely on the powers already granted him by the Constitution and previous Congressional Acts just to keep the country moving.

In 2012, despite what the GOP leaders had hoped for during Obama’s inauguration, President Obama won a second term. Further, due to the harm the Republicans were seen doing to the nation, the Democrats were able to take seats back in the House, but not enough to regain control due to the gerrymandering of districts after the 2010 Census.

So after this loss of power and rebuke by the nation, did the Republicans decide to put the nation first and work to govern with the Democrats and the President for the best interests of the nation? No, they doubled down. They shutdown the government, threaten default again, the House passed even more Bills to repeal ObamaCare as well as other Bills dead on arrival in the Senate.

Republicans in the Senate increased yet again the number of filibusters to the point where Harry Reid had to change the Senate Rules to simply get important Federal positions on the Courts and Government offices filled so government could do it work.

As bad as the 112th Congress was, the 113th was passing fewer Bills than before. Again, Obama was left with no choice but to use Executive Orders to get things done for the nation. Keep in mind; he still has signed fewer executive orders than any of his predecessors going back to before Roosevelt.

How did the Tea Party Republicans in the House respond to this? Instead of going to work as they were sent to do, they filed a lawsuit against the president for doing the people’s business without them.

Despite what you may be told, not a single executive order the President has signed is in violation of the law, the constitution or prior legislative acts of Congress. Everything he has done is legal.

Further, despite the obstruction of the Tea Party in Congress, slowly but surely the nation is doing better. The thing is if the Republicans would place the nation’s need before their own, our situation would be even better.

To date, because the Congress won’t act and rather obstruct due to Tea Party influence:

No comprehensive immigration reform Bills

No infrastructure repair Bills creating millions of needed good jobs

No National minimum wage increase Bill

No equal pay Bills

No campaign finance reform Bills

Though the Senate will occasionally get a Bill passed, the Tea Party Controlled House will not allow it for an up or down vote, even though the votes are there for passage.

Further, very few if any of the Bills passed through the House have any chance of passage in the Senate or signature by the President.

They only legislate for show, not for governance.

This is what the Tea Party has done to our Congress resulting in unstable governance and in the process is harming a nation still teetering close to falling back into recession if important job Bills aren’t passed.

President Obama has two more years and needs a Congress that will work with each other and him for the best interests of this nation.

The Tea Party has clearly demonstrated they are not interested in governing, only obstructing and causing more harm to the nation. Further, if the last four or more years are a guide, you know this will not change with the Republicans as long as they cater to the extreme right wing fringe that manifests themselves as the Tea Party. The only hope this nation has to make the lives of the majority of her people better in the future is a working Congress made up of mature and dedicated patriots and that isn’t the GOP

Register and Vote in November. The nation and your own economic stability depend on it.


Unrepresentative Government: Ferguson Missouri, A Case in Point

Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man

Ferguson, Missouri: according to the 2010 census:

Population: 21,203

Over the age of 18: 15,115

Whites: 6,206

African Americans: 14,297

Asians: 103

Native Americans: 80 

Others: 96

Identified by 2 or more: 421.

22% of the city lives in poverty.

The mayor is White.

Six City Council Members of whom 5 are white and only 1 is African American.

Ferguson’s population is 67% African American, yet its police force is only 5.6% African American.

Ferguson is a suburb of St Louis, the 6th most segregated city in the nation.

This year, only 12.3% of eligible voters casted a ballot. In 2013 only 11.7% and in 2012 only 8.9%.

Is it any wonder that with such low voter turnout, you end up with city government and city employees who don’t look like the city they’re suppose to serve.

As new reports in recent days have shown, there is a long history of distrust in the African American Community of Ferguson’s police department. The shooting of Michael Brown is seen as the latest episode of a generational problem for the town. The Police response to protests has been over the top, making the community look like an occupied military zone.

As of this writing; despite Missouri law, the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown has not been released. Officials are citing concern for him and his family’s safety. UPDATE: Darren Wilson has been identified as the officer involved in the shooting. To date he has yet to make a formal statement to the press nor has it been confirmed or denied he made a statement to his chain of command immediately after the shooting as required by most law enforcement agencies. Wilson is on paid administrative leave in an undisclosed location.

In press conferences, despite on-scene witness testimony describing the shooting and acknowledgment that Michael Brown was unarmed and was merely walking down the middle of the street when confronted by the officer, he is still referred to as a “suspect” by both Ferguson and St Louis Police.

It took the Governor of Missouri stepping in to appoint an African American Captain of the State’s Highway Patrol to calm the city down. This act was ridiculed by St. Louis Prosecutor Bob McCulloch (who beat his African American Opponent in the Democratic Primary) as an overreach of power and uncalled for. McCulloch has yet to indicate if and when he will file any charges against the police officer for whom there is overwhelming probable cause has committed a serious crime, possibly murder.

Beyond the poor community relations between City Officials and her people, despite the racial tensions that exist, despite the gross uncalled for show of strength, power and intimidation of local and St. Louis Police to townspeople and media, the issues of Ferguson go far beyond the township. It’s endemic to what this entire nation faces in this election year, lack of voter turnout that results in government that isn’t representative of its constituency and isn’t accountable to them.

This is true of local government, county government, state government and national government. If the majority of eligible voters won’t take the time to vote, to be heard, how can they expect a government to represent their needs and see to their best interests? How can they expect that government to hire government officials representative to the people they are hired to serve? How can they expect a fair, working and accountable government for the people they are supposed to represent?

Ferguson may be an extreme example, but it’s an example of what is true in this entire country, especially during “off year elections.”

Not enough people voting, resulting in the wrong people winning and governing only to the interests of the minority of people who voted for them and/or the money interests who paid for their campaigns.

In this country the one thing every American has if they are of voting age, is the right to vote. In midterms, less than 40% of eligible voters nationwide even take the time to vote. This results in unrepresentative government that is unresponsive to the majority of people they are to serve.

The only solution is for everyone to simply vote their interests.

Government of the people, by the people and for the people will not work if the people don’t take the time to vote. We need a government who is representative of our needs and our interests, not the privileged few. The more representative a government is to her constituency, the better it performs for that constituency

Get the word out, for better government services to include police and first responders, register and vote for those officials responsible for hiring, training and holding accountable the government servants who are paid for by your tax dollars.

“To Protect and Serve” should be more than a motto on a police cruiser’s door; it should be a calling for men and women to serve all of the people in the community they serve. Equal Justice Under Law.

MSNBC: Ferguson Lack of Diversity Goes Way Beyond Its Cops:

Slate: Ferguson is Mostly Black, Why is its Government so White?

VOX: Why There Wasn’t Accountability for the Police in Ferguson