The Holidays are over and it’s back to reality. Of course, part of that reality — for better or worse — if that the politicians have made their way back to Washington, DC.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that the politicians’ reality is the same as ours. That’s a big part of the problem.
First, it should be noted that most of the significant items on the agenda for Congress as they return to “work” are items that they failed to deal with LAST year. You will recall that, after knowing for months that the government’s spending authority would expire in December, Congress failed to enact any kind of long-term spending legislation, choosing instead to courageously and diligently extend government spending for … three weeks.
If you accept the premise that Congress’ most fundamental duty is to determine how much and on what the government will spend our tax dollars, they had one job — and they didn’t do it. Instead, they punted until January 19 in order to go home and enjoy the Holidays.
Private businesses could never get away with what Congress does
Imagine an employee or business who has the better part of a year to accomplish certain tasks, reaches the middle of December without accomplishing the most basic of those tasks, and then announces that they are going to call it a year anyway and just go home.
Good work if you can get it.
Of course, punting is nothing new for Congress. When it comes to the budget and spending, they’ve been doing it for so many years that it has become standard procedure. After all, the national debt is only $20 trillion. What’s the urgency of dealing with that?
And then there’s the fate of 800,000 “DACA kids” — young immigrants who were brought or sent here, undocumented, as children. Several months ago, President Trump ended the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program that had granted temporary protection from deportation for many of those young people.
Many legal experts agree that the DACA program, instituted administratively by President Obama, was of questionable legality, believing only Congress has the authority to create such a legal status. When he ended the program, President Trump reasonably gave Congress six months — until March — to exercise that authority.
Was the fate of 800,000 young people, many of whom know no other home than the U.S., were educated here, and in some cases, even served in our military, important enough for Congress to deal with before going home for Christmas?
Congress is back in session, but will they actually be back to work?
Thus, Congress returns to Washington, DC, this week with what is now an urgent need to deal with DACA. And with a President demanding that his big beautiful Wall be built, along with reductions in legal immigration, as conditions for supporting a DACA solution, it won’t be as simple as it should be to give those 800,000 young immigrants the security of a legal status.
Warrantless surveillance? Yes, that’s tucked away in the spending bill that must be dealt with by January 19 as well. Disaster relief? Yes, that’s on the plate also, along with a host of other issues that any normal person would consider both significant and worthy of deliberate consideration.
Let’s hope that all those Senators and House Members enjoyed their holiday break. And let’s hope that they were somehow reminded during that break that their actions — and procrastination — actually have very real consequences for millions and millions of people who live and work in the real world.
(Photo of Former Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland by Gage Skidmore)