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Crippling Congressional Chaos

Congressman Jason Smith

(Rep. Smith’s column originally appeared in the Washington Examiner)

October 26, 2019 – Never before in our history has the House of Representatives pursued an unsanctioned impeachment investigation of a president. Since launching the unilateral crusade against President Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has failed to provide any institutional rules for these proceedings – a clearly partisan campaign in direct defiance of our democratic values of due process. Worst of all, at a time when our congressional to-do list includes keeping the government open and functioning beyond November 21, the impeachment undertaking has unleashed crippling chaos in Congress.

It is not simply Republicans who are furious at what is taking place in the halls of Congress, but even members of the majority party are urging their leadership to regain sanity. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-New Jersey, is one such member. NBC News reported, “As Van Drew sees it, impeachment is a pointless, divisive exercise that will poison the well of bipartisanship and prevent Congress from taking up more important issues, like prescription drug prices and infrastructure.”

I couldn’t agree more. There are so many opportunities for Congress to get legislation to the president’s desk to help middle-class Americans which are falling by the wayside because of this impeachment craze.

Congress could be working to address the mental health crisis, combat the opioid epidemic, improve our VA system, lower prescription drug prices, gain critical global market access for our farmers, help stem the tide of rising student loan debt, reduce government waste, reauthorize our country’s military and finally secure our borders. These are issues everyone agrees need to be worked on, and finding solutions to them would instantly raise the quality of life for the hardworking farmers, families, and job creators I represent in southern Missouri.

Yet, this impeachment obsession has rendered Congress unable to address any of these concerns in a real and substantive way. In divided government, impeachment has soiled the waters of bipartisanship and it seems unlikely the majority will quit playing politics any time soon.

This agenda of chaos and perpetual inaction is all coming to a head in less than a month.

On November 21, the Thursday before Thanksgiving, the federal government is poised to shut down. As that deadline approaches your Congress remains incapable of crafting a long-term solution so long as the congressional agenda is dominated by political impeachment games. I’m sure the speaker will soon roll out her flawed spending plan with the false choice of: “accepting this agreement is responsible governing.”

In reality, responsible governing is focusing on the real issues facing families and not conducting a wasteful political charade which has made Congress inoperable and thwarted the exact type of bipartisanship needed to keep government open and functioning on the cusp of another expiring funding deal.

Crafting such a deal takes careful negotiations and good faith agreements between multiple chambers and branches of government, something hard to imagine in such times of hyper-partisanship. In absence of such a deal, simply accommodating the Pelosi agenda of chaos, and rubber-stamping another short-term continuing resolution cobbled together will ignore the grave issues we face as a nation in the hopes they will simply go away. We already tried this in September, and in place of working towards a long-term funding agreement in the weeks since, time has been wasted on a Hail Mary of an impeachment investigation destined for ultimate failure. The Budget Committee, on which I am a senior member, has still failed to even produce a formal budget—putting us at over 190 days since it was due.

Instead of waiting until the next election to make their case to the public about why it’s time for new leadership in the White House, the majority party in the House of Representatives is obstructing democracy by trying to throw President Trump out of office for any reason they can dream up.

That’s not governing. That’s chaos. And that’s the halls of your U.S. Capitol.