Yesterday’s message? It was a sad day for the country but a good day for Constitutional democracy. The Democrats greeted the approval of two Articles of Impeachment with the solemnity and gravity the event warranted. Donald J. Trump will be forever branded as one of three United States Presidents to be impeached, indicted for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. It was a brutal day of political theater, largely static debate along partisan lines, worse than root canal for the viewer. Not a single Republican spoke about the substance of the President’s misdeeds. Not one defended the actions or character of the man.
The most outrageous GOP talking point was that, instead of spending their time on impeachment, the Democrats should, as Republican Dennis Riggelman, a whiskey distiller from Manassas, Virginia said, have been hard at work on issues of importance to the well-being of the people. He specifically named prescription drug costs, the opioid drug crisis, the United States/ Mexico/Canada trade pact. Other Republicans robotically ticked off other issues.
Let’s get the record straight. As Massachusetts Congresswoman Katherine Clark laid out last Friday to The New England Council, the Democratic House has passed more than 400 bills, over 300 of which are still sitting on Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk. Two hundred seventy-six were passed with bipartisan support.
There are bills curbing prescription costs (with savings to go, for the first time, to benefits for dental, vision and hearing), addressing the opioid crisis, and investing $10 billion investment in National Institutes of Health and FDA, to move innovation more quickly to patients.
With the focused commitment of MA Congressman Richie Neal, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, the long-sought successor to the NAFTA trade agreement was finally negotiated and now includes enforcement mechanisms for fair labor practices and environmental safeguards. This should reduce competitive disadvantage for American workers whose products already must comply with protective regulations.
Also awaiting Senate action are House-passed bills to address the existential challenge of climate change, two gun safety bills passed last February, and to deal with the Dreamers under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). There’s a bipartisan bill to create a path to citizenship for a million agricultural workers and others to extend the Violence Against Women Act, address Net Neutrality, and pay equity – all among the bills that Mitch McConnell and his herd of sheep haven’t had the decency to take up.
And the work of the House continues, on continued funding for the government, extending the Earned Income Tax Credit, higher education, and more.
Just two weeks ago, in response to a 2013 Supreme Court decision weakening the Voting Rights Act, the House passed a bill providing a new response to voter suppression. Civil rights hero John Lewis of Georgia, nearly killed in the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, inspired his colleagues to be ever mindful of the continuous hard work of reinforcing democracy.
And that’s why this impeachment had to happen. In our democratic republic, no person, not even a President, should be above the law.
Once again, we can hail Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who now says she’ll delay naming House members to manage the prosecution in the Senate until rules are approved that won’t rush the trial at breakneck speed to exoneration. Count on Republicans once again to take up the chorus against the “do-nothing Democrats.” But rest assured, it is Mitch McConnell who – aside from his larding the federal courts with right-wing judges many of whom are deemed professionally unqualified by non-partisan evaluators – steadfastly refuses to do the people’s business.
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