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Last Week?
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The Galveston Daily News Mast Head Next Week? Hype vs. Votes Part 2

Bill Sargent, Mark Mansius and John Gay are writing columns on important issues for today.


Learning the Difference Between Hype and Votes

May 27, 2013

We’ve all seen them, slick mail pieces that talk about the bills a Congressman has introduced, the committees he or she is on, and what wonderful things he or she has done for constituents. But we’d like to talk about something that counts more than all of that “hype” – actual votes!  We will be focusing on one or two Members of the Texas delegation as we do this.  Their vote(s) speak volumes about who they are and what they stand for.  They are the Congressman in our region who stand out by their voting record.  Over the next two weeks we will be focusing on two pieces of legislation, both of which have become law and, by our way of thinking, should not have.

The first is the “No Budget No Pay” Bill.  This is a great sound bite and who could object to requiring a person to do their job or not get paid?  But the devil is in the details.  First, the 27th amendment of the Constitution prohibits anyone from messing with a Congressman’s pay during their current term in office.  So instead of actually cutting off a person’s pay it would just postpone cutting the check until the end of the Congressional session.

The Second thing this bill did was to eliminate the national debt ceiling for about four months.  The former national debt limit was suspended from February until the middle of May, in essence allowing the federal government to spend whatever it wanted, and that is not a good thing!  During this time the Treasury Department reported the overall debt swelled by about $300 billion and now totals roughly $16.7 trillion.

Finally the bill did not require that the House and Senate agree upon a budget. (Government 101: For a bill to become law it is authored in either the House of Representatives or the Senate, then the other house of Congress passes a similar bill and a committee from both houses works out a compromise bill that is sent to the President for signature or veto.)  This bill only required that a budget be passed by each house of Congress.  As we have seen the Senate and House budgets (yes each chamber passed a budget) are drastically different and come from very different world views.  If the “No Budget No Pay” bill was to have any meaning at all it should have required that both houses of Congress agree on a budget and send it to the President.

So in the end what we ended up with was a bill that did only one thing.  It suspended the debt ceiling for four months.  In the Houston area only four of the ten or so House members voted against this measure.  They included Republicans Ted Poe and Steve Stockman, both of whom voted against the bill because of the suspension of the debt limit. We commend them for their vote.

Next week we will look at the Continuing Resolution and funding for Obamacare.

Until next week...

Bill, Mark and John