Quick trivia question. Name a bill that has passed the House of Representatives in the last year.
Could you think of one?
Was your response “The Green New Deal”?
I ask this because I want to point out how the Trump Derangement Syndrome is distorting our democracy.
But first, let’s discuss the Green New Deal. This was not and never has been a bill. It was a pair of resolutions presented in both houses — HR109 and S59. On March 25th, Senate Majority Leader McConnell called a vote without debate and it went down in flames. You can read the articles. There was a lot of parliamentary intrigue and the Democrats were righteously outraged. All for a non-binding resolution. But the press loved it! Reams of copy. A quick search of the New York Times database show at least nine articles with “Green New Deal” in the title in February and March of this year.
I got interested in this when Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to her congressional colleagues on November 2nd about what she considered their top accomplishments in 2019. She listed eight bills passed by the House of Representatives that are sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk right now. Pelosi wanted to refute the argument that the Democrats have done nothing and are only focused on impeachment. Turns out, the Democrats have been busy, doing the work I want my elected officials doing to solve some big problems we have here in the US. Different from the Green New Deal resolution, Mitch McConnell will never let these bills see the light of day in the Senate.
Here they are:
H.R. 1 — For The People Act — the bill was passed by the House on March 8, 2019 by a vote of 234–193.
This bill is an attempt to have free, fair and uncorrupted elections in America. Included is the Disclose Act, which would require super PACs and nonprofit organizations that spend money in elections to disclose the names of donors who contribute more than $10,000. The bill would also provide a six-to-one matching system for donations of up to $200 to congressional and presidential candidates who reject high-dollar contributions, funded by an additional fine on corporations found to have broken the law. There is a lot more in the bill. Felons who have served their time would be able to vote. The president and vice-presidential candidates would have to provide 10 years worth of tax returns. Some other provisions. Check it out.
H.R. 8 — Bipartisan Background Checks Act -the bill was passed by the House on February 27, 2019 by a vote 240-to-190.
The Bipartisan Background Checks Act would require background checks on guns sold in private sales, including gun shows and online transactions. The bill would ensure that all sales (with a few exceptions) are run through the national criminal background check system.
Republicans attached an amendment that would require the F.B.I. to alert Immigration and Customs Enforcement if an undocumented immigrant tried to obtain a firearm. This amendment passed and was included in the bill.
H.R. 7 — Paycheck Fairness Act - the bill was passed by the House on March 27, 2019 by a vote 242–187.
The bill functions in three specific ways:
1) It would ban employers from asking candidates how much they made in previous jobs.
2) It would get rid of employer rules that keep workers from talking about their salary information.
3) The bill would require employers to be much more transparent about how much they’re paying workers.
H.R. 1585 — VAWA Reauthorization Act-the bill was passed by the House on April 4, 2019 by a vote 263–158.
The Violence Against Women Act lapsed on February 15, 2019. Thirty-three Republicans congress members voted for the bill.
H.R. 9 — Climate Action Now Act -the bill was passed by the House on May 2, 2019 by a vote 231–190.
The bill would prevent Trump from quitting the Paris Agreement. The bill would also require that President Trump send a plan to Congress detailing how the country will meet its emissions reductions targets as laid out by the Paris Agreement.
During a speech on the floor, Steve Scalise (R) Louisiana, falsely claimed that China and India were “exempt” from the Paris Agreement.
H.R. 5 — Equality Act - the bill was passed by the House on May 17, 2019 by a vote 236–173.
This bill would “prohibit discrimination on the basis of the sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition of an individual, as well as because of sex-based stereotypes.”
This would be in direct contrast to the Trump administration’s policy of dismantling rules and policies designed to protect LGBTQ individuals. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services has spearheaded an attempt to define gender as ‘immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth”.
H.R. 6 — Dream and Promise Act -the bill was passed by the House on June 4, 2019 by a vote 237–189.
The bill would create a new legal pathway for young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children, known as Dreamers, and for those with Temporary Protected Status, granted to immigrants whose countries are ravaged by natural disaster or violence.
H.R. 582 — Raise the Wage -the bill was passed by the House on July 18, 2019 by a vote 231–199.
The bill would raise the federal minimum wage to $8.55 in 2019 and increase it over the next five years until it reaches $15 an hour in 2024.
So those are the bills Pelosi pointed to when touting the House accomplishments. Not bad. Good work Nancy.
In most cases, I could find one (1) article in the New York Times concerning these bills passing the House. A shout out to Catie Edmondson for her quality coverage.
Oddly, when you type the bill’s name into Google, you get no news coverage. Congress.gov and Govtrack.us are the top two results. But after that; nothing. If you go a page or two into the search, you will find the policy groups who either hate or love the bill. But news coverage? Not so much.
I understand that the passage of a bill in the House is not “news” for most Americans, but I mourn the utter lack of interest by the Fourth Estate. Donald Trump has bewitched the press. Fox News has developed and refined a formula that somehow causes reporters to talk and write and obsess about agendas that I don’t care a whit about.
How did we get here?