What If Congress Passed Something ‘Big’?

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (3rd L) speaks as (L-R) Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Sen. John Thune (R-SD), and Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) listen during a news briefing after the weekly Republican policy luncheon March 8, 2016 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

As pressure from Hillary Clinton, the Senate Democrats and their media lackeys continues to build for the GOP Senate to hold a hearing on the Merrick Garland Supreme Court nomination, accusations of a “Do Nothing Congress” have begun.

This charge is as absurd as it is hypocritical coming from the mouths of enablers of Senator Harry Reid’s previous majority.

Let’s recall that the United States Senate under Harry Reid wouldn’t even agree to vote on a federal budget, one of the most basic functions of a government. As a result, Senator Jeff Sessions stated at the time that “…the Senate’s ineffectual Democrat majority balks at the task of leadership.”

A week after the Democrat-controlled Senate achieved its awful 1,000 days without a budget, then-Majority Leader Reid said: “We do not need to bring a budget to the floor this year – we don’t need to do it.” This is the same man who is now leading the charge for the Senate GOP to “do its job.”

Make no mistake, the do-nothing attack can stick in the minds of independent voters if not handled well. In the past, Republicans have relied on pushing back against these types of narratives by doing exactly what I did above – pointing out the hypocrisy of the charge. I write this in the hopes of persuading the GOP to add a component to the strategy this time around.

The McConnell-led Senate should try something new: turn “do nothing” on its head. I understand that this argument faces an uphill climb, but it still needs to be discussed. Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked to Members of Congress about this idea and unfortunately they usually answer that the timing isn’t quite right or with some other mantra of the failing status quo. One of the reasons why President Obama has repeatedly cleaned the clock of the Republican Congress over the past 5-plus years is that instead of asking “why,” Obama asks “why not?”

So I say to Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, why not? There are a number of conservative reforms that the American people support overwhelmingly that the GOP Congress could begin moving on today.

Tax code reform and simplification. The ultimate no-brainer. The American people would respond favorably to serious debate and meaningful votes on the reforming of our impossible tax code.

Balanced Budget Amendment. The American people want responsible government spending and in my opinion there’s only one way to get a balanced budget and also sustain it. Republicans in Congress can send a signal to legions of independent and conservative voters that they are listening.

Pro-Life legislation. Stop cowering under the conventional wisdom that Republicans can’t lead on social issues. Nonsense! Polls show more than 80 percent of Americans want significant restrictions on abortion. Other polls also show that over 60 percent of women would support limiting abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. President Obama has already threatened to veto the post 20 week abortion ban. Make him do it.

Make Super PACs obsolete. Do the Democrats really hate Super PACs? Let’s find out by passing legislation that would make Super PACs obsolete by increasing limits directly to candidates and traditional membership PACs.

Congressional Term Limits. The American people want them, period. Republicans should own this issue as it’s theirs for the taking. By holding a vote on term limits the American people would see a glimmer of hope coming out of a broken Washington.

In the context of the presidential election, the Republican nominee could embrace and drive all of these popular reforms. Who better to talk about tax code reform than Ted Cruz? Who better to discuss balanced budgets than John Kasich? Who better to discuss term limits than Donald Trump? Put it on Hillary and the Democrats to defend the failed status quo. Even if President Obama decided to veto every measure – which is highly likely – Republicans would be marching down the field on offense for a change.

So I submit to the GOP Senate: take action. Get together with Speaker Ryan and back him up on his plan for an aggressive focus on policy. Congress doesn’t exist just to debate policy, but to vote on it and pass it as well. When the Senate under Harry Reid failed to produce a budget, Ryan called it a “disgrace.” Of course it was. That’s why right now is the time for Republicans to show the American people that our words mean something.

On the Merrick Garland nomination battle, it’s time to play chess – not checkers.