by Carrie McCullough
Widener University Masters of Public Administration Student
Congress’ approval rating is at one its lowest points in memory. This article compares the public’s opinion of Congress to that of their opinion of Lindsay Lohan; and with good measure. The public can only see deadlock, sequester, and bickering coming from the current Congress. What would make someone be interested in a job like that? Well, if you’ve already been there and done that, it may be more appealing.
Four notable ex lawmakers, Former Rep. Marjorie Margolies (PA), Former Rep. Bob Barr (GA), Former Rep. Joe Baca (CA), and former Rep. Robert Dold (IL) have all thrown their names back into the Congressional race once again, after many years away from politics. Additionally, party leaders believe at least 5 other candidates who lost in the last election will be considering running again in the upcoming elections. These individuals have spent a significant time away from the bickering and compromise of Congress, and are willing to give it another try. And why not? 9 ex-members won back their seats last year. These are experienced lawmakers, who know the ropes of Washington, and how to make things happen. The lure of the Washington spotlight, and getting their hands dirty seems to be very appealing to them. They’ve been there, and they’ve done that. For them, a re-election loss may not be the end of the road.
In my opinion, I believe Congress could use a little experience on compromise and lawmaking. These are candidates could bring a little bit of the “remember when” back into lawmaking that both parties seem to be nostalgic for.
Several weeks ago the Senate held a “vote-a-rama” related to amends to the federal budget. This is the third of a three part series of reactions to this event by Widener University students studying Congress this semester.
by Andrea Stickley
Widener University Political Science Major
Ladies and gentlemen, Congress has now found a way to act like a bunch of six year olds….and get paid for it! Introducing vote-a-rama, the newest invention that Congress has come up with that allows an all out debate and no compromise. It sounds like a word a six year old would come up with and sounds like how a six year old would act; and yet, it was created by our nation’s lawmakers. Something seems wrong with this picture. If Congress actually believes that they are going to accomplish something by holding this budget debate and comparing amendments, they’ve got another thing coming.
Wake up, Congress. Democrats and Republicans having different ideas is not a new discovery. The whole nation is aware of the fact that you guys can’t agree on issues. That’s not the problem. It’s the fact that Congress can’t come to a compromise. So, your solution to this is to hold a debate about the fact that you already know you have different amendments to request? Somehow this doesn’t seem like a smart idea or an effective use of time. Why not, instead of just rehashing all the things that you don’t agree on and will never agree on, you spend your time talking about things you can agree on? Wow, what a simplistic idea.
Unless, of course, there is nothing left that Congress can agree on…
by Alexander Roux
Widener University Political Science Major
For decades the issue of instituting term limits on Congressmen has been a hot topic for debate. The issue comes up almost every new Congress but it never receives any real attention nor is it taken seriously. The last major attempt for instituting term limits on our Senators and Representatives was in 1994 when Republicans took control of Congress and promised term limit legislation. Legislation was introduced limiting Senators to two 6 year terms and House members to two 6 years terms as well. The bill received support from both parties. However, there were not enough votes to secure the two thirds majority that is required for Constitutional Amendments. The bill was defeated and since then no major attempt has been made to limit the numbers of years our Congressmen can serve.
I believe that if we found it necessary to restrict the number of terms for the President, then Congress and the Supreme Court should have the same restrictions. Congress has had members of both houses serve 30 years in Washington. The President has two shots to move the country in the right direction and effectively lead the nation. I believe that our Senators should enjoy two 6 years terms allowing them to work with 3 administrations and our House members should enjoy four 3 year terms, again allowing them to work with three administrations. If they can’t effectively legislate in 12 years in Washington then they shouldn’t be allowed to keep their jobs.
Term limits might also help keep Washington lobbyists at bay considering they won’t have entire careers to corrupt our politicians. As for our Congressmen a term limit might actually inspire them to work as hard as they can knowing that they can only be there for a max of 12 years and that eventually getting re-elected won’t matter. This will mean that what they’re doing for the people will be their own priority. I think that term limits for Congress and the Supreme Court are long overdue and that if we want to make our legislative body effective again term limits could certainly help make that a reality again.
by Matthew Dugan
Widener University Political Science Major
The current fiscal fight in Congress between the Democrats and the Republicans is adding further evidence to the widely held opinion that congress in incapable of agreeing on anything. The same fight that happens every year is being played out once again, Democrats want tax increases while the Republicans want to cut social programs. In the end there will be some sort of agreement made where nobody is happy, with the possibility of a government shut down happening first. Compromise is an ugly word in politics and officials on both sides will stand their ground without trying to reach any sort of actual agreement. They will stand on their side until they are blue in the face like a child who cant get his way. This is one of America’s largest frustrations with congress, in my opinion. They want to do what they feel is right for the country, I’m willing to grant them that and I have respect for them, but they are not helping us by shoving their finger’s in their ears going “blah blah blah” while the other side shouts their opinion.
The only way to stop this cycle is to have politicians act like the mature and civil adults they are and to be open minded to others opinions. Obviously there are things that are off the table for both parties and they will not compromise on them. What needs to be found is some kind of middle ground. Neither side will ever accept the others entire proposal so it is pointless to continually try and get them to vote your way. The base of all this is the degradation of civil discourse in American politics. Politicians show almost no respect to one another. If the discourse in politics was changed then much more would get done if people merely showed each other the respect that is due to them as fellow human beings. If officials would stop pinning the opposition as someone who is trying to destroy America then there would be progress. I feel in my heart that no member of Congress, or any politician, wants to destroy America, I feel that they all want what is best for this country, they just want to go about it in a different way or they have a different idea of what “best” is. Attacking a person’s character and refusing to hear what they have to say will not solve anything and we will continue in this gridlock.
by Ashley Bidne
Widener University Political Science/Criminal Justice Major
We all know the stereotypes that say congress is incapable of agreeing or compromising on anything. America is now facing approximately $16 trillion in debt and for almost 4 years the United States has not had a set budget. Any average citizen would find themselves hiding from collectors and moving back in with their parents. However, the federal budget is not so simple. Now a “no budget, no pay” bill has been passed extending the debt limit and holding congress accountable for a budget.
Although, many are claiming this bill is unconstitutional according to the 27th Amendment. The 27th amendment reads “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened,” In my opinion, this simply limits senators and representatives from raising their pay until after congressional elections, except for Cost of Living Allowances. The bill would not reduce members pay, but withhold it. This puts ample amount of pressure on Representatives and Senators to finally make a budget for the United States. My only concern is whether their paychecks will take priority over what is best for our country and its finances. However, we can all agree that four years is a significant amount of time to be without a budget, it is time to put pressure on congress to do their job.