Will the 114th Congress Deliver or Disappoint?

November 13, 2014

Between 2006 and now, Americans have been dealing with a constant shift between a Republican and Democratic-led Congress. This Congressional pendulum has led to new people and (sometimes) new voices going through a revolving door of uncertain lawmaking. The last Congress, aptly named the “do-nothing” Congress, managed to live up to its moniker and will end its session as the least productive Congress with the record lowest number of bills becoming law. Chalk that up to dysfunction or political gridlock, but the facts remain: Congressional productivity was at an all time low last session and our elected officials need to refocus their efforts to working for the very people who put them in office.

If Republicans now, or whoever ends up getting the majority in the next election, want to remain relevant and keep control of the legislative branch, then they need to actually govern. With the 114th Congress, there are practical and very necessary issues that need to be debated and voted on. 

  1. Very soon, our nation will be without an Attorney General. AG Eric Holder announced his resignation in September, and the Senate needs to ensure a swift confirmation process for a capable AG who will enforce the law of the land while upholding our civil rights and civil liberties.
  2. Congress needs to get its act together when it comes to debating and voting on comprehensive immigration reform. This needs to be done maturely, without the vitriolic poison of xenophobic rhetoric.
  3. Congress should be supportive of a continued diplomatic solution with Iran. Enforcing new sanctions or rallying others to drag our nation into another war is not only counterproductive to diplomacy, but will ensure the continued war-fatigue already felt by the majority of Americans.
  4. Some members of Congress have already brought NSA reform to the floor and this next Congress needs to continue that debate and enact legislation to ensure proper oversight and transparency when it comes to surveillance programs.

Last week, only a third of registered voters went to the polls to vote in the midterm elections. While midterm election turnout is usually low in general, Americans are disillusioned with the way they are being governed and that disillusionment is on the rise.

Gallup has indicated that only 15 percent of Americans approved the way Congress was handling its job. The solution given from the other 85 percent polled? Replacing all members is the best way to fix the problem. Well, not all members were replaced last week, but what we are now left with is a Republican-majority House and Senate. Additionally, Americans haven’t been too happy with President Obama’s handling of his job either; his approval rating is at 40 percent, again highlighting Americans’ overall disapproval with government and the direction our country is going.

If this new Congress continues to remain on this dysfunctional path and does not become a true governing body, Americans will ultimately lose hope and trust in the civic and political process. This political malaise essentially marginalizes all communities and ensures a continued skeptical and disillusioned public. Democracy only thrives when its citizens are both informed and involved.

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