Short Answer: VERY!
Not in my lifetime has the U.S. Congress been so slow, so inconsistent, and so unwilling to go about the People’s business. There is no doubt part of their job is to oversee the operations of the Executive Branch of the U.S. government. But that is NOT their primary responsibility.
The Constitution of the United States outlines the responsibilities and duties of Congress. Article I offers an overview of Congressional power, while Section 8 provides details about each duty. Section 8 includes a total of 14 paragraphs of information about all the duties, including:
- Borrowing money on behalf of the country
- Regulating commerce
- Developing a uniform system of laws
- Establishing the Post Office
- Declaring war
Wow! That seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? Though those 5 tasks for the Congress set by The Constitution seem to be simple tasks, we all know there’s a lot to it. But, in all fairness, there are 535 elected people who are tasked to work together to complete those 5 things every year. And those 535 elected folks each have a staff comprised of dozens of workers to make certain everything necessary for the completion of those tasks is taken care of.
So why does Congress get so little done?
Congressional Actions in 2017 (2nd Half of 115th Congress)
In that most Americans doubt Congress does much of anything, Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL) argues that the U.S. House of Representatives is getting things done. The Congressman on his website published a list of the greatest accomplishments of Congress in 2017. Let’s look at them:
- The VA Accountability First Act (Signed into law)
- The Forever G.I. Bill (Passed the House 405-0)
- The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act (Passed the House 228-195)
- Kate’s Law (Passed the House 257-167)
- The National Defense Authorization Act (Passed the House 344-81)
- Protecting 2nd Amendment Rights (Signed into law)
- Strengthening Career & Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Passed House by Voice Vote)
- FDA User Fee Reauthorization Act (Presented to the president)
- Nuclear Waste Legislation (Approved 49-4)
- Drinking Water System Improvement Act (Approved unanimously)
(If you want details of any of these bills, click on the hyperlink to be transferred to see the actual bill)
These ten Congressional accomplishments — according to Congressman Shimkus — are the MOST important Congressional accomplishments of 2017! Obviously, his list includes specific bills that originated in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate passed some bills, too. But it takes both Houses to pass bills that find their way to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Of those ten bills listed by Congressman Shimkus as THE significant legislative 2017 accomplishments, only two were actually signed into law! None of the others — including any that the U.S. Senate passed — even made it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for presidential signature.
Laws Passed thru 5/31/2019 in this the 116th Congress
|Public Law Number||Bill Number and Title||Date|
|PL 116-19||S.1693 – National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2019||05/31/2019|
|PL 116-18||H.R.2379 – To reauthorize the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program.||05/23/2019|
|PL 116-17||H.R.1222 – Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act||05/10/2019|
|PL 116-16||H.R.1839 – Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act of 2019||04/18/2019|
|PL 116-15||S.725 – A bill to change the address of the postal facility designated in honor of Captain Humayun Khan.||04/16/2019|
|PL 116-14||H.R.2030 – Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act||04/16/2019|
|PL 116-13||H.R.276 – Recognizing Achievement in Classified School Employees Act||04/12/2019|
|PL 116-12||S.863 – A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify the grade and pay of podiatrists of the Department of Veterans Affairs.||04/08/2019|
|PL 116-11||S.252 – A bill to authorize the honorary appointment of Robert J. Dole to the grade of colonel in the regular Army.||04/06/2019|
|PL 116-10||S.49 – A bill to designate the outstation of the Department of Veterans Affairs in North Ogden, Utah, as the Major Brent Taylor Vet Center Outstation.||03/21/2019|
|PL 116-9||S.47 – John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act||03/12/2019|
|PL 116-8||S.483 – Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act of 2018||03/08/2019|
|PL 116-7||H.R.439 – National FFA Organization’s Federal Charter Amendments Act||02/21/2019|
|PL 116-6||H.J.Res.31 – Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019||02/15/2019|
|PL 116-5||H.J.Res.28 – Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019||01/25/2019|
|PL 116-4||H.R.430 – TANF Extension Act of 2019||01/24/2019|
|PL 116-3||H.R.259 – Medicaid Extenders Act of 2019||01/24/2019|
|PL 116-2||H.R.251 – Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program Extension Act||01/18/2019|
|PL 116-1||S.24 – Government Employee Fair Treatment Act of 2019||01/16/2019|
Are you counting? 19 laws in 2019.
Estimates are that American taxpayers’ costs for funding Congressional operations were $4.4 Billion in 2009 — a decade ago! Current numbers simply “are not available.” But using realistic assumptions, it is credible to believe that number approaches $10 Billion annually. Look at what taxpayers received in Congressional services in legislative actions for the entirety of 2017 and the first half of 2019: 29 pieces of legislation plus the one big meaningful one: tax cuts. Do you feel like we’re getting our money worth?
So What is Congress Doing?
Great question. The #1 concern among Americans is dramatically and emphatically Illegal Immigration. Last week, more than 1,000 immigrants surged through the U.S. southern border near El Paso, Texas — the largest number ever encountered by U.S. Border Control and Protection, with the previous record being set in the month of April, which was 424. This unprecedented invasion spurred President Donald J. Trump to slap a 5 percent tariff on goods from Mexico in an effort to get the Mexican government to take seriously the problem of undocumented immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
The mainstream media, predictably, started lamenting on how the price of avocados for American consumers may potentially increase a few cents and completely ignored the $200 billion American taxpayers pay each year in illegal immigration costs. Not to mention the cost of illegal drugs on our youth, and the cost to education and health care on American taxpayers. So, let’s take a look at these dollars and cents.
According to a recent analysis done by Chris Conover, an American Enterprise Institute adjunct scholar, “all told, Americans cross-subsidize health care for unauthorized immigrants to the tune of $18.5 billion a year.”
Although current federal policy prohibits federal tax funding of health care to unauthorized immigrants through Medicaid or Obamacare, “rough estimates suggest that the nation’s 3.9 million uninsured immigrants who are unauthorized likely receive about $4.6 billion in health services paid for by federal taxes, $2.8 billion in health services financed by state and local taxpayers and another $3 billion bankrolled through ‘cost-shifting,’ i.e. higher payments by insured patients to cover hospital uncompensated care losses, and roughly $1.5 billion in physician charity care,” Mr. Conover wrote in Forbes.
Public education of illegal immigrants’ children is also hemorrhaging the American taxpayer, as, under federal law, all students are eligible to receive schooling regardless of their immigration status.
“Public education is where the real big cost comes in,” Randy Capps, the director for research for U.S. programs at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute told NBC News this year. “The amount of taxes that the parents pay on their earnings, that they pay through property taxes — passed through on their rent — it’s not going to be as much as is spent on public education for their kids and food stamps for their kids.”
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimated it cost public schools $59.8 billion to educate the children of illegal immigrants, and almost the entirety of this cost, 98.9 percent, is borne by taxpayers at the local and state level, through property taxes, according to a 2016 study. At the time, the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador were driving increased funding programs for students with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) — causing a major drain on school budgets. That was when 118,929 unaccompanied minors were crossing the border during the fiscal year. Already this year, 44,779 unaccompanied alien minors have crossed the border and 248,197 family units, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
More people have been apprehended illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border this fiscal year than in any year since 2009, according to the CBP.
Then there’s the human cost of the drug crisis. In fiscal 2018, the U.S. border patrol seized 480,000 pounds of drugs, including fentanyl, marijuana, and meth, on the U.S.-Mexico border. In January, the CBP saw the largest seizure of fentanyl in the agency’s history — seizing nearly $4.6 million, or 650 pounds, of fentanyl and meth from a Mexican national when he attempted to cross the border.
Drug overdoses, fueled by opioids killed more than 70,000 people in the U.S. in 2017, with fentanyl overdose deaths doubling each and every year.
And today we learned that ISIS has been sending English-speaking terrorists to sneak through Mexico to get to the U.S. And we have no idea how long that has been happening and how many have entered the U.S.!
Can Mexico do more? Absolutely. Mexico needs to do a better job securing its own southern border — which runs only 150 miles across. It also can do a better job cracking down on its domestic terror organizations — both the coyotes smuggling young children across the border and the drug kingpins. Lastly, Mexico could grant asylum to migrants within its own homeland. According to international law, if you leave a country seeking asylum, you are to seek asylum in the first safe country you arrive. Mexico is safe, and the Mexican government can address this.
Who has the legal requirement to take care of the flow of immigrants into the U.S.? Are there laws that regulate all types of immigration? Why are they not being enforced? If they are bad laws, shouldn’t they be changed?
The answers to all those questions are singular: the United States Congress.
Why Doesn’t Congress Act on Illegal Immigration?
The simple answer: They don’t want to.
For Democrats, illegal immigration assures them of millions of “potential” voters that are present in the U.S. Democrats feel certain that whenever they take back the power of the House, Senate, and the White House, they can pass legislation to legalize all those illegals. That gives them instant VOTERS! And they are certain they will be able to lump those in the same Democrat basket in which they have already relegated African Americans and Hispanics.
For Republicans, those in the House and Senate simply don’t want to rock the boat. On the most part, their driving purpose is to maintain the balance between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans know it’s just a matter of time for the Democrats to take control of the Senate and probably the White House. Republicans want to “not make waves” now so that when Dems are back in power, the “revenge factor” will not lead Democrat leadership to strip GOP members of the prestigious committee spots they currently now have.
Remember: Congressional membership is no longer about money like it was decades ago — it’s all about “Power.” With power, you not only control money — billions of discretionary dollars — but everything else. Balance is the key.
Regarding the border crisis: now that Democrats have come around and dropped their talking point “there is no crisis at the border,” why don’t they just pass legislation to take care of the problem, fund the necessary items to underwrite the current issues, stop illegal crossings, and fund the border wall?
They can no longer blame President Trump. Remember his offer last year? All Democrats had to do in the deal Trump offered Congress was fund the $5.7 billion for partial construction of the southern border wall. In exchange, his offer included hundreds of millions of dollars in new humanitarian money for safety and health of illegal immigrants, it would allow Central American children to apply for USA asylum from their home countries, and it would create a three-year legal status for about 700,000 people now here under the Obama-era DACA program, and some 300,000 people here under humanitarian protections, who might otherwise become illegal immigrants soon.
Of course Dems rejected the offer. So Trump has watched as the crisis down South has reached epidemic proportions and is taking Mexico on in an effort to force them to stop the Central America flood of immigrants through Mexico to get to the U.S. His plan is to use tariffs on Mexican products that come to the U.S. It sounds reasonable to most. But not to Pelosi and Company.
Her patent refusal is sad but not unexpected.
But then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky weighed in on HIS thoughts of the tariff proposal:
President Trump cannot win for losing!
Here’s the rub: President Trump cannot do it alone. Congress can! They could in a 30-minute session in the House and a 30-minute session in the Senate pass the necessary legislation to stop illegal immigration — if not completely then to a crawl — and give DACA recipients the peace of mind that though their parents brought them here illegally, they have stayed and can stay with government protection while they follow a path to citizenship. But they don’t!
The ball is in the court of the U.S. Congress. President Trump’s options are extremely limited. Many don’t like increased tariffs on China and other countries that are already in place. But they’re having positive results. Those on Mexico would hurt a bit, but their results would mean fair trade, which the U.S. has not had with most countries for decades. And if Mexico would simply honor their own immigration walls for their southern border and turn Central Americans away if not emigrating legally, our southern border crisis would subside!
Each American has only one thing to put into this battle: a vote — one vote. It would be a good thing (if you haven’t already) find out how your House member and your U.S. Senator feels, has voted, and will vote on any illegal immigration legislation issue if and when one comes to the floor for a vote. Let them know where YOU stand. And make some noise.
After all, they are allowing and even encouraging illegal immigrants to keep on coming! And they are making Americans who want the flood of illegals to stop feel guilty for wanting the government to simply abide by the law and enforce it.
After all of this, do you think there’s a possibility that many in Congress are just stupid?!?