These US senators no longer qualify as legislators

The job of the House of Representatives and Senate is to pass legislation and send it to the President for approval. It is not the job of legislators to only pass legislation that the President says he will sign. The Constitution specifically allows Congress to make laws that the President doesn’t sign by overriding his veto with a supermajority in both houses.

The recent Shut-Show, the longest partial shutdown of the federal government, proves that many US senators are no longer legislating. They are so beholden to the whims of the chief executive that they will only vote for bills that he vows to sign. This is exactly the opposite of what the Founders intended.

On December 20th, the Senate passed a continuing budget resolution to fund the government through February. They passed it by voice vote, without taking a roll call, so in effect it was a unanimous approval. Not one senator opposed the measure enough to send it to a recorded vote.

Immediately after the Senate did their job, President Trump demanded wall funding be added to the measure, so the House Republicans obliged and voted for government and wall funding 217-185, with only two weeks left in their term before the new class of Democrats were sworn in January 2nd. Although Republicans still controlled the Senate, they didn’t have the 60 votes it would take to pass a new resolution with wall funding. So the government shut down.

Since the President vowed to veto any bill without wall funding, it took the Senate until January 24th to even bring a bill to the floor. The clean bill with no wall failed with only 52 of the 60 votes needed, with these senators voting against:

  • Barrasso (R-WY)
  • Blackburn (R-TN)
  • Blunt (R-MO)
  • Boozman (R-AR)
  • Braun (R-IN)
  • Capito (R-WV)
  • Cassidy (R-LA)
  • Cornyn (R-TX)
  • Cotton (R-AR)
  • Cramer (R-ND)
  • Crapo (R-ID)
  • Cruz (R-TX)
  • Daines (R-MT)
  • Enzi (R-WY)
  • Ernst (R-IA)
  • Fischer (R-NE)
  • Graham (R-SC)
  • Grassley (R-IA)
  • Hawley (R-MO)
  • Hoeven (R-ND)
  • Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
  • Inhofe (R-OK)
  • Johnson (R-WI)
  • Kennedy (R-LA)
  • Lankford (R-OK)
  • Lee (R-UT)
  • McConnell (R-KY)
  • McSally (R-AZ)
  • Moran (R-KS)
  • Perdue (R-GA)
  • Portman (R-OH)
  • Roberts (R-KS)
  • Rounds (R-SD)
  • Rubio (R-FL)
  • Sasse (R-NE)
  • Scott (R-FL)
  • Scott (R-SC)
  • Shelby (R-AL)
  • Sullivan (R-AK)
  • Thune (R-SD)
  • Tillis (R-NC)
  • Toomey (R-PA)
  • Wicker (R-MS)
  • Young (R-IN)

Less than 24 hours later (just 6 hours after one of his closest advisers was arrested by the FBI 🤔), Trump caved and agreed to sign a bill with no wall. The Senate then immediately passed with another unanimous voice vote the same measure they had rejected the day before.

The only thing that had changed was the President’s mind. But that’s all it took for 44 US senators to table their objection and allow the bill to pass.

These people are not acting as legislators in the spirit of a federal republic under the Constitution. They’re puppets of the executive, stooges of their party, and should be ashamed of their behavior that left a million federal employees and contractors working without pay for more than a month.

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Steve King should go, yes – what about the rest?

Steve King has been racist for a very long time. Republicans have been vaguely denouncing him (and then endorsing him) for almost as long.

Ernst (R-IA) endorses King (R-IA) in 2016

Republican leadership in Congress is now moving to censure King in an as yet unspecified way. This is an entirely political decision, not a moral one. For how can it be legitimate outrage when King backs up his racist rhetoric with fairly standard Republican positions?

King’s racism by definition informs his views on issues that affect different races of people in different ways, primarily immigration and civil rights. But those same views are standard conservative fare.

On immigration, Steve King wants to build a border wall, reduce legal immigration, mandate E-verify, and end birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants. King’s own bill to restrict birthright citizenship to legal immigrants was cosponsored by 48 other House Republicans (all of them white men).

If King wants to reduce immigration because he doesn’t want Americans replaced by “somebody else’s babies” and Joe Wilson (R-SC) wants to do it because of jobs or the Rule of Law™ or something, the effect is the same – fewer immigrants and new citizens of mostly racial minorities.

On civil rights, Steve King supports mandatory voter ID, voter registration purges, and reduced early and absentee voting. Whether intentionally or not, these policies disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters, and the “problem” they purport to solve are effectively nonexistent.

As a committed white supremacist, Steve King necessarily supports these policies because they reduce the electoral power of people of color. Are the many Republican states who have actually enacted them any better because they’ve convinced themselves that they are protecting “the integrity of our elections”, which isn’t under threat in the first place?

On these issues and more, conservative ideology has been developed gradually over the last 60+ years on a steady diet of “welfare queens” and “anchor babies” and “family values” and “inner city” problems and “tough on crime” solutions. When an otherwise mainstream Republican who hews to this standard conservative rhetoric takes it one step further and talks explicitly about white nationalism, everyone reaches for their pearls, but no one reflects inward.

Condemning, censuring, and removing Steve King is good, yes! Condemning, censuring, and removing President Trump, who agrees with Steve King on everything for exactly the same reasons, would be better. Fundamentally reconsidering policies endorsed by white supremacists because of their white supremacist effects would be best. I’m not holding my breath.