Much has been made of President Barack Obama bypassing congress to get things done in recent weeks. How do you feel about that? Was it his only choice in light of congress’ frequent stalemate?
There is one clear consensus that has emerged from the Tea Party-led gridlock in congress: their priority is to defeat President Obama. To drive the point home, it was stated as such by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just a short time after Republicans took control of the House.
In response, and after months of political theatrics, the American people have time and time again shown their frustration with Congress. They are simply fed up of partisan gridlock, and I don’t blame them. I am equally frustrated with extreme right-wing Republicans who have shown a lack of will to solve problems, compromise, and to do what is necessary to govern.
After more than a year since Republicans entered into the majority, they have failed to present a plan to create jobs or address our economy. Instead, they opted to vote on legislation to end the Medicare guarantee, reject middle class tax cuts to protect breaks for millionaires and voted to slash college aid.
Our nation is facing monumental challenges. The unemployment rate continues to hover around double digit levels in some areas. Our nation’s housing market continues to operate in disarray, while families struggle to find relief and a helping hand to stay in their homes. And reckless investments made by Wall Street continue to haunt our financial system and consumer confidence.
These are the challenges we must face head on as a nation. These are the problems that communities are grappling with day in and day out, and expect their government to react and take action to address. But all they have seen is Tea Party-fueled leadership that has produced no results, while blocking the progress of critical legislation.
We were elected to lead, and to solve problems. Unfortunately, this fundamental responsibility has been lost on many of my colleagues, making this Congress one of the most unproductive in history.
While I strongly believe that Congress and the president need to work together in crafting our nation’s policy, it is clear that President Obama has been left with little to no options to help the American people. He is right, when he says, “we can’t wait.” Our problems will not stand still until the Tea Party decides they are ready to govern, or until they realize they were elected to govern.
Earlier this month, the president moved to appoint Richard Cordray as America’s consumer watchdog while congress was in recess. He did so after Senate Republicans continually moved to block the appointment, while millions of Americans continue to face abuses from bad actors in the financial industry. Mr. Cordray will finally be able to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and work to protect families across the nation from abuses and dishonest practices by some financial players.
But this is one example, and just the tip of the iceberg. The White House has 74 nominations pending on the Senate Floor, some of which include important roles such as deputy secretaries to vital federal departments. In contrast, President George W. Bush had already made 61 recess appointments by the current point of President Obama’s presidency. President Obama has made only 28.
In addition—led by Tea Party Republicans, in the last 12 months the House majority has rejected the president’s jobs bill and voted to protect tax cuts for millionaires and against protecting Social Security and Medicare from privatization. After more than a year, the House leadership has chosen to move forward with messaging legislation while Americans are struggling to find work and stay in their homes.
The American people demand accountability, and in the face of an unwilling partner—I believe the President is doing the right thing. But we cannot allow for this to become the norm, the new status quo, or the way of doing business in Washington.
Partisanship should not be an excuse for inaction—specially during times of turmoil and uncertainty. The American people expect more from their government than one that self-implodes under extreme partisan bickering. Just like families are doing every day—we must meet our responsibilities.
Our nation is calling on us all to rise above partisan politics and personal agendas, and do what is right for our country. I have been working to rise to that challenge, and I have been urging my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do the same. But until Tea Party Republicans come to the table, I will continue to applaud President Obama and his efforts to support working families.