Congress Takes Longest Recess Since 1971, Leaves 4 National Crises Unresolved
Congress started their 7-week vacation without addressing four major issues effectively leaving millions of lives in the balance until September when Congress is scheduled to return:
Zika, gun violence, the Flint Michigan Crisis, and funding for opioid treatment plans.
Is this the first time you’ve heard about this? That’s because traditional media (local and national news stations) have been reporting on porn instead. GOP Republicans managed to make national headlines for adding porn as a public health crisis to the GOP platform last week.
Yes, you read that right—porn. We have a global health crisis, potentially rising gun violence, thousands without safe water, and no game plan to a fund a recently passed opioid treatment bill but above all, we have a Congress who chose to start an early vacation rather than address the issues.
And even worse, the largest media corporations aren’t holding our public officials accountable for doing this.
It is clear that in the current state of affairs, porn is not a topic of major national concern if it is one at all. Take for example the Virginia Congressional Candidate who posted a screenshot of his webpage of Facebook but forgot to close out his porn tabs first. The result? 500 increased likes on his Facebook page.
Is it yet safe to say we have more pressing things to address in this country?
- Like Zika, the virus which was identified by the CDC as a global health crisis and the same virus that is currently rampaging in Brazil where 100,000 Americans are expected to attend in the 2016 Olympics. Not only this but we are heading into peak mosquito season in the United States itself. Zika is an issue that can only get worse with time.Back in February President Obama and the CDC requested 1.9 billion dollars towards funding the Zika battle.The Senate responded with this request with a 1.1 billion dollar proposal and the House with 622 million. The GOP republicans however attached several riders to their proposal. Ones that would lower environmental regulations like pesticide use and further defund Planned Parenthood. Naturally the democratic lead Senate did not approve the House’s proposal noting the important role of Planned Parenthood at a time when birth defects have a potentially high risk.As a result states like Georgia where 33 travel-related cases of Zika have already been reported, have been forced to reallocate money from an emergency preparedness funds which ultimately makes CDC employees’ jobs harder.Maybe Congress is hoping that it will get lucky and Zika will not be a rampant issue upon their return. What is more likely is local outbreaks will start small and begin to spread. Babies will be born in the same districts as those Representatives and Senators who chose to leave the matter unresolved. Community members will look for someone to blame and rightfully so.
- Flint Michigan is the place where a public health emergency was declared and where another 100,00 people haven’t had clean drinking water from their faucets for two years.In an unsurprising turn of events, Congress was not able to pass an aid package largely because the Senate tried to attaching the package to an energy bill.The aid package began as all bills do, as an idea. Senate Democrats from Michigan proposed Legislation that would provide 600 million in aid to help Flint recover from its water crisis. The proposal came in the form as an attachment to an already under consideration energy billThe aid package along with the energy bill was not approved by House Republicans and weeks of deliberation reduced the proposal to 220 million which was eventually rejected. As you know Congress chose to take early recess rather than fulfilling their obligation to govern.
- Congress took recess without hardly any measure involving gun violence, which is an issue there aren’t many official numbers on because Congress enacted a ban that prevents the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from conducting gun-related research.Aside from not finding a resolution to this issue, Democratic law makers failed to fulfill a promise they made to the American people on the issue. Remember that sit in back in June when Democrats refused to leave Congress until some measure was passed? Well once they did end that sit in, they promised to find new ways to pressure Republicans into addressing new gun control measures.The Democrats’’ tactic must be to have an early recess and to give Republicans plenty of time to renew and recharge which would most definitely wear them down and come to a compromise.
- In a near success Congress approved a major bill. The Comprehensive Addition Recovery Act is legislation which addresses opioid addiction as a health problem rather than a criminal. The Bill received approval from both the House and Senate and was sent to President Obama to sign. The President indicated he would sign the bill and requested 1.1 billion in funding to carry out the new legislation; however the version the House and Senate approves includes about half as much.”It’s clear that efforts to prevent and treat the opioid epidemic will fall short without additional investments,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, said in a statement after House and Senate negotiators hammered out the final bill.Unfortunately, Congress’ unwillingness to expand on the bill’s provision will affect over 26 million people.The main motive Congress’ early break: elections. All the representatives and senators need to go back home so they can advocate votes for themselves, make numerous public appearances, and make their own contribution on the presidential campaign trial.This is not how our democracy should work. Although August recesses are meant for members to have time to meet with their constituents, this year’s recess is the longest recess—50 days—since 1971.
If Congress stayed in session longer, spent more time working for the people then chances of reelection would increase dramatically- by simply doing their job. This is true only in a perfect world. It seems like the mainstream media might have a hand in getting candidates elected for their campaigns rather than their accomplishments.
The currently oligarchical landscape of media means a few elite corporations control news coverage nationwide. Major companies want to have congress men and women on their side so the elite decide who would be the best fit for their company to be in office and then advocate directly or indirectly (choosing some campaign speeches to be newsworthy and others not) for said candidate. We undeniable saw this in action with Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton.
So how is this happening? VOTERS needs to pay more attention. Legacy and traditional media often report on whatever topics are going to benefit the company the most and not a lot of blame can be placed on them for doing that, but we the people need to know the real news and decisions being made so we know how to make our Congress work for us on our schedule, not their own.
Currently, Congress doesn’t work for the people which is why they can do this kind of thing and get away with it every year.
New York Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/va-congres sional-candidate-doesn-regret-porn-facebook-post-article-1.2640322
Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-zika–20160713-snap-story.html
Atlanta’s NPR: http://news.wabe.org/post/no-help-coming-congress-recesses-without-zika-bill
Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/congress-gun-violence-research_us_5671bde3e4b0688701dbee36
National Institute of Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2016/americas-addiction-to-opioids-heroin-prescription-drug-abuse
The Spokesman Review: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2016/jul/18/idaho-court-nominee-wont-get-senate-confirmation-v/