Who has the keys to the Capitol?

William Moore Senior Editor
Posted 10/17/13

“If con is the opposite of pro, is Congress the

opposite of progress?”

-- Gallagher

All is well in the world. Well, sort of. The government is not still shutdown. Late Wednesday, Congress figured out a way to avoid sending the whole …

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Who has the keys to the Capitol?


“If con is the opposite of pro, is Congress the

opposite of progress?”

-- Gallagher

All is well in the world. Well, sort of. The government is not still shutdown. Late Wednesday, Congress figured out a way to avoid sending the whole country into receivership and effectively defaulting the world economy.

As you read this Friday, federal employees across the nation will be ending their forced furlough and heading back to work, formally signaling the end of the 16-day debacle. The government is now funded through Jan. 15 and the debt ceiling was raised to get us through Feb. 7. So after the first of the year, we will likely be in the same position.

This whole sad state of affairs didn’t sneak up on anyone. Congress saw it coming. But it was too good an opportunity for some party posturing — that whole “My way is better than your way” mentality. I don’t think that any of the party leaders ever thought about what was best for the country. They were doing what was best for their party.

I saw a poll the other day that said nearly half of Americans favor creating a third party. I think we just need to do away with the Republicans and Democrats and send all of them back to kindergarten to learn how to play well with others. For the last decade or so, the two parties have made minor attempts at bipartisanship but only on minor issues. If anything big came up, the vote went straight down the party line, with few exceptions.

And that seems to be the case with the shutdown and the debt ceiling deadline (and don’t get me started on the lunacy of the latter). Neither side was willing to back down. They wanted the other to blink first in this Mexican Standoff.

Ironically, the government shutdown was not a result of no money as many in the media were reporting. The U.S. Constitution says funding bills must originate in the House. The Republican-majority House passed a bill that funded the entire government with the exception of Obama Care. The Senate refused to accept the money to pay bills and employee salaries. Instead, the Democrat-led Senate said they would not accept any money if it didn’t include the Affordable Care Act.

So the money was there to keep parks open, to send employees back to work, to open government offices, and to provide needed relief to the elderly, children and the disabled. Some folks in Washington just refused to accept that money.

I think the American people need to take a lesson from the Catholic Church. I know the church has taken a beating over the last few decades on some issues (most notably child abuse by priests leading to lawsuits and massive payoffs), but the system has been around for 2,000 years and they’ve worked out some of the kinks along the way. One of those is the College of Cardinals selecting a new pope. The church’s leaders from around the world gather at the Vatican. They go into one building, seal themselves off from the rest of the world and don’t come out until they have decided on a new leader.

I think Congress needs to do the same thing.

When it’s time to create a budget, gather them all in the Capitol Building and no one gets out until they have hashed it out. The press would have to wait outside. No one would be allowed to posture in front of the cameras, unless it was on CSPAN’s single camera in each chamber.

You want to go home and sleep in a nice comfortable bed? Sure. You can go home as soon as you take care of the country’s business. Hungry? Want a nice juicy steak from Peter Lugers? Then hammer out an agreement like a responsible adult. Until then, here’s a cold ham and cheese sandwich. Miss your wife and kids? There are soldiers in Afghan deserts who haven’t seen their family in a year. And there are folks shooting at them. Sit down and man up.

Will that ever happen? No. But I can dream.

The next big question is how will Congress handle the pending deadlines in January and February. If they keep the status quo, then it will be time for voters to start looking for new representation in Washington.

William Moore is the Senior Editor at Gulf Coast Newspapers. He can be reached at wmoore@gulfcoastnewspapers.com