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A Misused Majority

April 16, 2019
Weekly Columns

It’s now been more than 100 days since Democrats have held the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. And from day one, House Democrats have misused that majority by playing political games, casting show votes and embracing radical ideas—instead of working in a bipartisan manner to craft legislation that can realistically become law in divided government.

While the current Congress started amid a partial government shutdown, that shutdown was needlessly extended due to political games initiated by Democrats. Even though President Trump and Republicans in both chambers were ready and willing to negotiate in good faith and reopen the government, Democrats chose to waste time on nonstarter appropriations bills that ignored the sticking point issue of border security. To force Democratic participation in discussion, the president eventually looked past their drama and reopened the government for three weeks. I was relieved that a compromise was reached, but it doesn’t excuse the unacceptable delay caused by Democrats refusing to negotiate.

Since the shutdown, House Democrats have continued to waste time on purely partisan legislation that doesn’t stand a chance in the Republican-controlled Senate or on the president’s desk. In early March, this included consideration of misguided gun control bills that would expand background checks. To be clear, Republicans are not opposed to screening prospective gun owners, and we certainly share the goal of preventing acts of mass violence. But as we pointed out during debate on H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112, current federal law extensively covers many of the concerns that were raised by Democrats.

During March, House Democrats also brought up their hallmark H.R. 1, erroneously calling it “For the People Act.” Filled with mandates that disrupt the constitutional role of states and egregious provisions limiting free speech, H.R. 1 was a clearly rushed and sloppy attempt to rewrite voting laws, election laws and campaign finance laws to get more Democrats elected. And its consideration wasted more valuable debate and floor time.

Week after week, Democrats have also refused to allow a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act—which simply requires that attending medical professionals provide the same life-saving care to abortion survivors as they would to any other babies born alive. No matter what side Americans fall on the issue of abortion, this bill is commonsense. Protecting vulnerable children shouldn’t be a divisive issue, but House Democrats have refused all 32 Republican requests brought by unanimous consent.

Last week, the House debated a rule that would provide in part for consideration of a Democratic "caps bill" instead of an actual budget. Buried within the procedural measure was language that would approve (or "deem") budget numbers whether the caps bill had enough votes to pass or not.  As a former member of the House Budget Committee, it's disappointing that Democrats chose not to present their fiscal vision by crafting a budget. In fact, the committee didn’t even attempt to write one this year. And by using a procedural measure as a safeguard, it's telling that Democrats lacked confidence in their own “caps bill” budget alternative, which was later pulled from the vote schedule due to lack of support.

Certainly, Republicans and Democrats disagree on a lot of things, but we can find common ground when we choose to work together. And in divided government, bipartisanship is a necessity. Unfortunately, legislation currently promoted by Democrats or rumored for future consideration is not only partisan but alarmingly radical in nature. This includes bills like Medicare for All, which would pave the way for one-size-fits-all, government-run healthcare. And coming with an expensive price tag is the Green New Deal, which would touch every sector and industry in our country. Even during the Obama Administration, it would have been unfathomable for such socialist proposals to garner mainstream Democratic support and attention.

During the next 100 days, I hope that Democrats will beat their bad habit of show votes on legislation going nowhere, abandon their radical agenda and choose to work with Republicans to govern for the American people. Republicans remain ready to do just that.