(Rep. Kevin McCarthy) – The cartoon musical television series Schoolhouse Rock presents children with an educational perspective on how the United States government creates laws.
An animated piece of legislation, aptly named “Bill,” dances on the steps of the Capitol and sings, “I’m just a bill. Yes, I’m only a bill. And I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill.” He explains to viewers the entire legislative process, from committee consideration to the possibility of a presidential veto. While this series is considered by many to be a classic teaching tool, it fails to accurately prepare its audience for the reality of this Democratic-controlled Congress.
The updated version for this Democratic Congress would educate viewers about backroom deals, payoffs and kickbacks. It would feature floor speeches about the irrelevance of the Constitution. The animated cast would include a bill too stuffed with pork to dance around on the Capitol steps, characters who exploit their positions of power for personal gain, and others who turn a blind eye to the culture of corruption they’ve bred. Characters would laugh at the idea of reading the legislation they’re voting on, and would mock any attempt to cut spending.
At the end, “Bill” wouldn’t be brought up for a vote on the House or Senate floor, he would be “deemed” passed. Unfortunately, this isn’t a cartoon; it’s U.S. government.
Americans are tired of Congress’ backroom deals, abuse of power and disregard for the Constitution, our nation’s founding document. On multiple occasions during Nancy Pelosi’s tenure as Speaker of the House, Members have been given less than 24 hours to read and consider multi-billion-dollar spending bills before voting on them.
When considering the $862 billion stimulus, Democratic Leaders didn’t make the text of the bill available until the middle of the night, and then forced Members of Congress to vote on the legislation less than 12 hours later. Speaker Pelosi famously told the American public that Congress needed to pass the health care bill so the American people could see what was in it afterward.
The arrogance of Congress under Pelosi’s reign has been astonishing. When discussing the rules of the House, one Democratic lawmaker said, “We make them up as we go along.” Another Democrat recently told his constituents at a town hall, “The federal government can do most anything in this country.”
This kind of attitude is appalling, and certainly hasn’t escaped the notice of the American people. Public confidence in Congress is at an all-time low of 11 percent, according to a recent Gallup survey. Citizens across the country are sending a message to Washington to remind their elected officials that they were chosen to serve the people, but many in Congress refuse to listen.
Conversely, Republicans have launched America Speaking Out, a project dedicated to engaging Americans in a direct conversation about their government. Through this effort, we have collected feedback from all over the country, and the message is clear: restore the government to an institution of the people, by the people, for the people.
Transparency and openness in government is the only way we can ensure that our representatives operate within the bounds of the Constitution, which should be at the center of every legislative effort in Congress. It’s time to change the culture of Washington, increase the government’s accountability to the people, and end the federal overreach into the everyday lives of Americans.
No longer should Congress cloak its actions from the public in the dead of the night, spending billions of taxpayer dollars while the nation slumbers unsuspectingly. We must put an end to the era in which elected officials view the public’s trust as an opportunity to line their own pockets. Congress must restore the trust of the people in their government, and House Republicans are committed to advancing an agenda that prioritizes government reform as a central tenet.
(Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) represents California’s 22nd District and is the Republican Chief Deputy Whip and Chairman of the America Speaking Out Project)