As we come off the elections of 2019, it’s imperative that we seriously think of the direction we want our country to go for the 2020 elections and beyond. We must start taking steps now to make sure that happens.
Our elected officials are sworn to support and protect our Constitution; they must be held to that high standard. Unfortunately, it appears that some who took that oath feel free to take liberties with the original wording and intent of the document we Americans hold to a high standard. No one is above the law, no matter how high a position they hold. Now is not a time for complacency. Now is the time to firmly support 2020 candidates who exhibit integrity and transparency, which we deserve and expect.
When a high official repeatedly and blatantly assumes he’s above the law, by overstepping his authority, as well as other allegations of impropriety, as clearly stated in the Constitution, that person must be held accountable. That’s where Congress comes in, and it has an obligation to proceed with actions to hold that person accountable.
Then, there’s Sen. Mitch McConnell, who falsely claims while the members of Congress are pursuing impeachment proceedings they aren’t finding time to accomplish important legislation. This Congress has actually passed many bills, and several have had bipartisan approval. Following is an abbreviated list of Democratic priorities that have passed in Congress, and have long been awaiting approval for a vote in the Senate, where McConnell refuses to put them up for a vote in the “Senate Graveyard” as he calls it, including:
• H.R. 1, For the People Act, passed in March to secure elections from foreign influence, to make elections more accessible for voters, mandating use of paper ballots, having the Department of Homeland Security evaluate threats to election systems 180 days prior to elections and releasing the results, and mandating presidential candidates release their tax returns.
• H.R. 5, The Family Equality Act, passed in May, seeks to provide comprehensive anti-discrimination protections, and had eight Republican votes for the measure.
• H.R. 6, The American Dream and Promise Act, passed in June, which would protect young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally and establish a path to citizenship.
• H.R. 7, The Paycheck Fairness Act, passed in March, would prohibit employers from asking about prospective employees’ salaries and mandate employers to show discrepancies in pay are based on legitimate factors. Seven Republican members voted for its passage.
• H.R. 8, The Bipartisan Background Checks, passed in January with the help of eight Republican members, seeks to expand background check requirements on private gun sales, those at gun shows, through the internet or through classified ads.
• H.R. 8, The Climate Action Now Act, passed in May with help of three Republican members, would block the Trump administration from exiting the Paris Climate Agreement, seeking to combat climate change.
• H.R. 987, The Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Act, which passed in May with eight Republicans voting for the measure, seeks to lower prescription drug prices and protect those with pre-existing conditions.
• H.R. 1585, The Violence Against Women Re-authorization Act, backed by 33 Republican members, provides funding and grants for several programs that tackle domestic abuse. This bill was left out of a spending bill during the partial government shutdown.
• H.R. 1644, The Save the Internet Act, with one Republican vote, would repeal the Net Neutrality Act in which broadband companies block or prioritize websites from people to use.
There’s also McConnell’s hypocrisy in refusing to allow vote on President Obama’s 2016 nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland, stating that the people should decide in the November 2016 election who should fill that vacancy. Yet McConnell was quoted by a reporter for the New York Times on May 30, when asked what he would do if a Supreme Court Justice died next year, he smugly gloated, “Oh, we’d fill it!”
The Democrats are doing their jobs. Don’t be fooled by the inaccuracies of the people who wish to “divide and conquer.”
We need more leaders like Elijah Cummings and John McCain, who, even though they may have had differences with colleagues, still treated them with courtesy and respect and tried to reach compromises in the best interests of their country. We need to keep this in mind as we prepare for a very significant 2020 election, not that far away.
As the saying goes, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.”
(Martha Tillinger lives in Allegany.)