This week, both the House and Senate passed a bipartisan VA compromise bill, and it was signed into law by the President. I voted for this bill because its a good first step towards addressing the systemic problems with the VA health care system. But there’s a lot more to be done, including getting the VA to build the clinic at French Camp as they promised they would.
That bill was the good news. Unfortunately, most of the bills that the Republican majority brought to the House floor were either bad ideas or cynical attempts to score political points.
House Republicans passed two immigration-related bills. One bill would prohibit the President from issuing executive orders that extend to DREAMers the right to stay here and work towards a legal path to citizenship. These young adults were brought to this country when they were too young to control their own destinies, and ithey dentify more with this country than any other place. The other bill provides a far less than adequate level of funding for the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Homeland Security to manage the large influx of unaccompanied minors into this country in a humane way, while also stripping away due process protections that now exist for most of these children. This is a huge step backward for our nation. The result of this law would be unfair to these children, who have come to this country seeking asylum from drug and gang-related violence in their home countries. Immigration reform is a highly emotional issue, but we need to work together on policies that will result in a fair and reasonable solution for these children.
House Republican leaders also forced through a partisan bill that will allow the House to sue the President for issuing and enforcing executive orders. It’s difficult to see any motivation other than politics for this action. This bill could have real world consequences, such as allowing each branch of the government to sue the others. The truth is that the current president has issued fewer executive orders than George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, or Ronald Reagan. Similar to 1998, when the Republicans impeached President Clinton, this Republican majority seems to be willing to do anything to disrupt a Democrat in the White House, even when it’s harmful to our nation. The precedent of suing the President is disruptive and could plunge the nation into further partisan gridlock. Our Constitution provides the means for each branch of government to check and balance the others.
I voted against a partisan bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee that will amount to setting up the 54th vote to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA). There are still problems with the ACA, but rather than going back and allowing insurance companies to dictate our nation’s health care system, let’s work together to improve it.
I also opposed a bill related to pesticides. This legislation would weaken the Endangered Species Act, a law that that has been instrumental in protecting habitat and wildlife. I have supported attempts to make our environmental laws more efficient and responsive, but not at the expense of our nation’s air and waterways. Let’s use science to find the best approach to environmental protection rather than allowing more pesticides in our nation’s drinking water.