In 2019, labeling Congress as “broken” is not a particularly controversial statement. The deadlock that many regret is only becoming more common, leaving the ordinary citizenry little hope in any productive changes. I, like most Americans, had a very critical and cynical view of the legislative body, but upon seeing the problems firsthand, I can tell you that they are far worse than most imagine.
By Addie Mae Villas | USA
So far, Congress has been in session for 180 days for the Senate and 183 for the house. On top of this, the house averages eighteen-hour work weeks, while everyday Americans work well over forty hours a week. Rep. David Jolly proposed a bill in October of 2015 that would require Congress to be in session for at least forty hours a week. Jolly stated that “A work week in Washington should be no different than a work week in every other town across the nation.” To no one’s surprise, the bill received no cosponsors and was quickly failed on all sides. The problem with Congress is that they hold the power to limit their terms and increase the amount of time that they actually work. But, this has not happened, and will not happen because Congress has stopped working for their constituents, the American people. But, they ought to do their job because we pay them $174,000 per year with our taxes to pass legislation.
The average term spent in the house is 9.4 years and 10.1 for the Senate. This is supplemented by the fact that Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has been in office for forty-two years and below him is Orrin Hatch (R-UT) who has served for forty years. We limit our president to terms, but we simply allow the politicians to stay stagnant in Congress. With congressmen and women tending to gravitate towards the incumbent in elections, it is no surprise that the same people are always elected. In races, the incumbent has a clear advantage, they typically raise $165,368,296 more than their opponents and have the benefit of name recognition and support in Congress. Also, PACs tend to support the incumbent as well, again making it extremely hard for newcomers to have a seat at the table. The problem with incumbents is simply nothing gets done. In the past years, debt has only increased and liberties have only been infringed more and more. Thomas Jefferson once said Congress should “return into the mass of the people and become the governed instead of the governors” and in essence, live under their policies.
With the current status of Congress, not much is being achieved. In the age of voting off of parties, non-partisan issues are never seen as so, and the major parties are unable to ever come to an agreement are work together to solve problems that are affecting everyone but them. Take the healthcare issue. Many can agree that the Affordable Care Act put in place by the Obama administration destroyed healthcare for millions and caused premiums to increase, yet, with the new administration and Congress, there still is no repeal and replacement. Politicians are no longer in the business of helping the people, but rather just achieving the name of senator or representative. One can look to the recent special election in Alabama as a prime example of this. Roy Moore, a seriously flawed candidate, refused to step down when the allegations of sexual harassment broke. Many called for this step-down, and many agreed that he would not be the best candidate to represent the state of Alabama. But, in the end, Moore decided to stay in the race, despite not having the approval of current senators and the public, and in the end, Alabama elected their first democrat senator in twenty-four years.
The corruption in the government and the so-called “swamp” is not going anywhere anytime soon. But, it is about time that we take a stand and demand that Congress works for us. We must change the motive of working for their own interests and start working for the interest of the American people. In the words of Ayn Rand “Stop supporting your own destroyers. The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction to give it.” take a stand and let’s make Congress work for us.