With July upon us, we are now more than halfway through the first year of the 116th Congress. So far, 2019 has been marked by partisan divides that have stood in the way of results.
There is much work to do to solve our nation’s challenges. Instead of focusing on impeachment or forcing the President to release his tax returns, Congress should be working on efforts to ratify the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, lower health care costs and rein in our debt.
The partisan legislation the House has passed this year has no chance of being enacted into law. Recently, the Ways and Means Committee, on which I serve, agreed on a bipartisan legislation, only to see it turn partisan after it left committee. The devaluing of the committee process and changing legislation after it is voted on in committee is especially frustrating.
The disappointing trend of partisanship in the House continued this week with the National Defense Authorization Act — the annual law that directs military operations and has a 58-year tradition of being bipartisan. While the House Armed Services Committee reported a traditional bipartisan bill, partisan provisions were tacked on afterward before consideration by the whole House. Some of these provisions include a backdoor attempt to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, removing key upgrades crucial to our nuclear deterrence, and blocking the president from addressing the crisis at the border. At the end of June, the Senate passed their bipartisan NDAA with a vote of 86-8. The NDAA passed the House on a party-line vote of 220-197.
Partisanship is affecting our productivity. Democrats and Republicans have different visions for the future of our country; however, not working with the other party only leads to gridlock. We are missing or delaying opportunities to secure our nation’s borders, increase and open new export markets, and address the cost of health care.
When Congress works together, we can tackle important issues. In June, the House, Senate and president agreed on a border security package that will improve the situation on the border, fight human trafficking and give law enforcement at the border a pay raise. For the rest of 2019 and 2020, I urge my colleagues to find common ground and start working for more productive solutions.