TIm Bartz, Entry #5

10/27/2013

Senate and House of Representatives

The House overcame its earmark ban to pass a bill. Here’s who gets paid.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2013/10/24/the-house-overcame-its-earmark-ban-to-pass-a-bill-heres-who-gets-paid/

Synopsis: In this article, the author describes a bill Congress passed last Wednesday which will place 8 billion government dollars into water-related projects around the country over the next 8 years. Prior to 2007, Congress passed a bill, “every two years that updated the nation’s water infrastructure.” However, due to a, “self-imposed ban on funding lawmakers’ pet projects,” the House was unable to pass a new bill until 6 years later. Over those 6 years, the Army Corps made 23 recommendations to Congress – 21 of which the new bill authorizes. Florida is home to 6 of the new projects – the most of any state. This is just one example of the time and effort required to get a bill passed in Congress.

Analysis: It should not take 6 years to get a bill passed in Congress – in fact, it should not even take 2 years. In my opinion, if more than one person believes a bill should be passed and more than one recommendation is made, then the process for passing a bill should begin right then and there. Instead, the Army Corps had to wait until 23 recommendations and 6 years had passed before Congress sat down and did something. While I understand the necessity of having a system of checks and balances, our “system” is very convoluted and requires that multiple voices and opinions adhere to a single idea – a noble but time-consuming goal. As we have talked about in class, a bill must pass through the House, the Senate, and the President to be made into law. The need for mutual consent makes speed impossible. My suggestion: have a less rigorous approval system followed by a closely monitored “Trial and Error” period where a certain law can be quickly placed into action and then retracted if proven faulty. Congress cannot agree, so something has to change.

 

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