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U.S. Congress: Far Too Many Bullies and Wimps

15 January 2019

In the three years that my column has appeared in Up & Coming Weekly newspaper, I do not think there has been a time when I forthrightly characterized anybody. Circumstances, and my assessment of them, force me to do so in this column. I must acknowledge that the United States Congress is populated by far too many bullies and wimps. For the most part, many Democrats in Congress have earned the “bully” characterization, while a substantial number of Republicans are justifiably labelled as “wimps”.

The most recent event that shines a bright light on this “bullies and wimps” condition is front and center as I start this column on 26 December 2018. Twenty-five percent of the federal government is shut down because the House, Senate, and President have not come to an agreement on funding for a wall on the southern border. Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader, has repeatedly stated that Senate Democrats will not approve any funding for a wall. Since this matter was not settled by the expiration of the last continuing resolution on 21 December, the partial shutdown commenced.

In what is happening here, the bullying shows through, first, in Democrats refusing to reasonably negotiate on a matter of national security. Allowing illegal immigration to proceed as it currently is in America clearly threatens our national security.

Then there is the in-your-face, confrontational, attacking approach employed by many Democrats in dealing with anybody who is part of the Trump Administration or supportive of the president’s agenda. A prime example of this conduct is reflected in comments by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) to Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, during a House Committee hearing. He brands her a liar, misappropriates a Biblical passage, and walks out of the hearing as Nielsen starts to respond to his comments. To get the full impact of the point I am making here regarding bullying by Democrats, please watch the clip of the Gutierrez/Nielsen exchange at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ScCMHhnkUk.

On the other hand, Congress has far too many Republicans whose actions show them to be wimps. For the last two years, Republicans have held a majority in the House and Senate, and had a Republican in the White House. Donald Trump won the presidency, in great part, by promising to build a wall along the southern border to curb illegal immigration. Congressional Republicans have given lip service to making the wall happen. Time and again, when they should have taken a stand, they promised to address the matter later. Republicans repeatedly bowed to the bullying of the Democrats.

In March 2018, Congress passed a $1.3 trillion dollar spending bill that funded the government through 30 September 2018. President Trump threatened to not sign the legislation because it did not include funding for a border wall. Republican Congressional leadership promised Trump that wall funding would be secured by the end of this year. After 30 September, and into the new fiscal year, no serious action was taken to make wall funding available. An FY 2019 budget was put in place and funding was appropriated for seventy-five percent of the government. The remaining twenty-five percent was operating on temporary extensions that expired at midnight on 21 December.

The Senate, overly populated by Republican wimps, by voice vote, passed another extension that would have gone into February 2019, after Democrats take over the House majority. The extension included $1.6 billion for border security, but did not include wall funding. Instead of accepting the Senate’s extension, the House passed a spending bill providing $5.7 billion for border security, including wall construction. The Senate took no action on the House’s bill because Chuck Schumer made it clear that Democrats would not vote for wall funding. Given that sixty votes are required in the Senate and there are only 51 Republicans, the House bill would fail in the Senate. No need to bring it up.

President Trump has, rightly, locked in to his position that he will veto any bill that does not provide wall funding. At this point, it is not publicly known what amount would be acceptable to the president. Before the House action, it appeared Trump was about ready to give up the fight until the House Freedom Caucus demonstrated their lack of wimp affliction and encouraged the president to stand his ground. They committed to stand with him. The House Freedom Caucus is made up of thirty-plus conservative Republicans led by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC).

Another wimp presence indicator is that when the House was moving towards a spending bill vote, many Republican members had already left Washington, headed home for Christmas. This was especially true of those who were retiring or lost their reelection bid. Still on the payroll, in the midst of a crucial fight, they went home. Some had to be called back for the vote. Despite the urgency, eleven Republican House members did not vote.

In this bully/wimp circumstance, governing deteriorates to a dangerous and disgusting level. Conditions that make absolutely no sense are allowed to fester and American citizens suffer. Consider some of what, with regard to the shutdown and illegal immigration, illustrates the horrible consequences of being governed by too many bullies and wimps.

Start with the $5.7 billion that the House approved. Subtract the $1.6 billion that the Senate offered for border security, but not a wall. That leaves $4.1 billion that could be spent on the wall and Trump would probably accept this amount. An article by Kimberly Amadeo titled, “FY 2017 Federal Budget Compared to Trump’s Spending”, states that FY 2017 federal spending totaled $3.982 trillion. The government is in partial shutdown over $4.1 billion or one tenth of one percent of the total government spending in FY 2017. We have 420,000 federal employees working without pay because they are considered essential and 380,000 on furlough without pay. Makes no sense.

An article by Alan Gomez titled, “Federal judge blocks another attempt by Trump to limit asylum”, addresses an area where the president has tried to take needed action, but the matter requires congressional correction. Following are crucial sections of the article:

A federal judge in Washington on Wednesday ruled that the Trump administration violated federal law by barring migrants from qualifying for asylum in the U.S. based on their fears from domestic abuse or gang violence in their home countries…

Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced new rules in June that required U.S. officials to deny those applications for asylum and place the applicants into expedited deportation proceedings.

Sullivan’s ruling follows a separate decision from a federal judge in San Francisco on Nov. 19, which temporarily prevents the Trump administration from implementing new rules that bar migrants who enter the U.S. illegally from requesting asylum.

Being granted asylum in the U.S. requires that a person demonstrate that he or she has been, or expects to be, persecuted in their home country and that persecution is due to one of these five reasons: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, political opinion. Former Attorney General Sessions took the position that these conditions refer to actions by governments. If extended beyond governments, and beyond the five categories, we could have an even direr situation than now. As for illegals being allowed to apply for asylum, given the overwhelming flow across the southern border, allowing it is unmanageable and does not pass the common sense test. Both of these are matters that Congress should address, but they won’t touch them. They leave it to the president and then complain about what he does in response to these situations that threaten our national security.

A report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform titled, “The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration United States Taxpayers (2017)”, estimates that, after adjustments for taxes paid, illegal immigrants cost the federal government and state governments a total of $115.9 billion annually. $5.7 billion, even $25 billion, appears to be a reasonable investment to reduce that annual expense.

Democrats repeatedly say that walls do not work. The Border Patrol says, and has demonstrated, that walls work. Further, research these walls that work: Israel-West Bank; Morocco-Algeria; Cyprus; India-Pakistan; Turkey-Syria. These walls work.

I could go on to address: the negative impact of illegal immigration on employment for American citizens; the horrendous human consequence of illegal drugs that come across the southern border; the additional crime that happens in our country; abuse of the asylum process. The list goes on.

Simply considering what is presented here makes it crystal clear that Congress is an abysmal failure, and has been for years, with regard to addressing illegal immigration. Sadly, this is just one example, among many, that shows this institution to be nearing a state of uselessness, if not a danger, to the very survival of America. This condition should not be a surprise where bullies and wimps dramatically outnumber people of reason and courage.

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