After months of Mitch McConnell blocking virtually all legislation in the Senate, Republicans are now blaming the impeachment inquiry for their legislative impotence.
While conducting oversight of the Trump administration, the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives has managed to pass more than 400 pieces of legislation since the start of 2019. The vast majority of these have been blocked by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell has bragged about his blockade, calling himself the "Grim Reaper" and gleefully refusing to take any action to stop gun violence, protect the planet, improve the nation's health care system, protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, or ensure equal pay for women.
Now that the Democratic majority in House of Representatives has launched an impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump's apparently illegal attempts to enlist a foreign government to provide opposition research for his 2020 campaign, Trump and his defenders in Congress have embraced a new dishonest talking point: blaming their unwillingness to act on impeachment.
Trump previewed this approach a May. Angry that the Democrats were doing their constitutionally required oversight of him and his administration, he stormed out of a meeting with Democratic leaders, vowing he would not do anything to improve the nation's crumbling infrastructure unless they stopped investigating him. He has so far been true to his word, doing nothing to improve roads, bridges, dams, or anything else.
In the past few days, congressional Republicans have attempted to convince the American public that because the House is investigating Trump's Ukraine scandal, all of their opportunities to legislate are now dead. These include:
- Prescription drugs
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that Democratic investigations meant they were "unable to get anything done" including "lowering of prescription drug prices." A day later, Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley repeated this, saying, "If Democrats use impeachment proceedings to not act on policy that will benefit Americans like the #USMCA or lowering prescription drug prices, that would prove they’re more interested in politics and opposing the president than serving the American people." Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) also claimed Democrats were "losing focus" on the issue. But given that McConnell has already decreed the House prescription drug pricing plan as being dead on arrival, it is hard to believe this has changed anything.
- Background checks
After blocking any meaningful action on gun violence for the past 25 years, Congressional Republicans suddenly want voters to believe that impeachment is the only thing standing between them and new gun legislation. But on Tuesday, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) implied that Trump had been close to a bipartisan gun deal until impeachment came along. "I'm hoping that these things can be compartmentalized and that we can continue to pursue policy that I've been advocating. But I acknowledge that a lot of clamoring for impeachment is not helpful," he Politico. "It makes it more difficult." Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) also complained that impeachment talk created "a negative tone and stage for doing a lot of other things," making action on guns a "lost opportunity."
- Immigration reform
McConnell and the Senate Republicans have refused to allow a vote on a House-passed DREAM Act to protect undocumented immigrants brought as children to the United States from deportation. But Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) complained Tuesday that House Democrats are trying to "delegitimize a duly elected President and pass partisan bills that have no chance of becoming law," instead of working to "fix our broken immigration system."
- Health care fixes
After failing on his prominent campaign promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something "terrific" that would cover everybody, Trump decided earlier this year that he would do nothing to improve the health care system until after the 2020 elections. Still, Braun listed fixing health care as one of the things impeachment would prevent. Rep. John Carter (R-TX) did, as well.
Echoing Trump's original threat, Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) tweeted that the House Democrats were now under the control of the "progressive left-wing of the Democratic party that has been focused on impeachment" instead of "bolstering infrastructure," and the other "work the American people elected us to do."
- The USMCA trade agreement
Congressional Republicans have spent months complaining that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not brought Trump's NAFTA 2.0 trade deal to the floor for ratification — even before the legislation's formal submission to Congress. Now, according to Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), House Democrats are only moving to an impeachment inquiry as an "excuse to do nothing" on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
- Education costs
Carter said that while "the American people need real bipartisan action to tackle issues" including "the rising cost of education," the Democrats' "sole focus has been partisan investigation after partisan investigation."
- Border crisis
Calvert listed the "humanitarian crisis on our southern border" as an issue House Democrats had lost focus on.
- Tax cuts
After helping ram through the unpopular, unfunded, and unhelpful 2017 Trump tax cuts, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) claimed that impeachment was "threatening the federal government’s ability to focus on real solutions" like "cutting more taxes for hardworking Americans."
- Veterans care
Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN) claimed that impeachment meant House Democrats were breaking a campaign promise to "improve vets care" instead of doing oversight.
- A budget
In an interview on Wednesday, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) suggested that impeachment talk was the reason Congress could not pass a budget.
- Helping the homeless
While Trump has made a sport of attacking homeless people, Calvert claimed that Democrats were not paying attention to the "homeless crisis" while they "march down the impeachment path.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.