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:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/25/robert-draper-anti-obama-campaign_n_1452899.html

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.

 

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