In 2016, Americans made their voices heard. Not only did they elect a Disruptor-in-Chief for the White House; they elected a Republican Senate and a Republican House. And since elections have consequences, one might expect Congress to act in accordance with the positions by which they were elected. By any standard, this Congress has disappointed. And the clock is running. If they want to make a difference, they should do ten things before the mid-term elections.
Former Congressman Jason Chaffetz has suggested ten things Congress needs to do now – but that they probably won’t do. Continued inaction – hundreds of bills are sitting on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk – is a recipe for disaster, both for the country and the Republican majority.
Let me share Chaffetz’s formula for success.
1. DOJ Conflicts of Interest: The chairs of the Senate and House judiciary committees should convene a joint hearing to facilitate a public testimony from Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. They should be asked to explain and clarify the numerous visible and apparent conflicts of interest on Mueller’s team.
2. Second Special Counsel: Upon the release of the upcoming DOJ Inspector General Counsel Report, the House Judiciary Committee should move to formally demand the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to join the IG in further investigating warranted matters with powers to prosecute those who have violated the law.
3. Answers from the FISA Court: The House and Senate Judiciary Committees should call the FISA Court judges before Congress to offer public testimony about the process and the specific case of Trump campaign surveillance.
4. Subpoena Compliance: The House and Senate Judiciary Committees should call Attorney General Sessions to testify about all outstanding Congressional subpoenas and why the DOJ has not yet complied.
5. Border Security: The Homeland Security Committee, Judiciary Committee, and Oversight Committee should continue to hold numerous hearings on securing our border and fortifying it with a wall. Pass legislation allowing the president to reallocate funds from the Department of Defense.
6. Testimony from Mayor Libby Schaff: Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff should be called to testify before Congress to defend her decision to protect criminals and endanger federal law enforcement. She should have to raise her right hand and testify under oath before the American people.
7. Facebook/Twitter Hearings: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey should be called to testify in person before Congress about their speech suppression practices. Having made the American people their product rather than their customer, they should be required to answer for the commercial and political use of personally identifiable information.
8. Reform the Broken Budget Process: Congress should kick off a serious effort to reform the broken budget process with a joint hearing. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer should be made to testify before a joint budget committee chaired by the House and Senate. Those four people should be asked to publicly testify and explain what went wrong with the budget process and how they’re going to fix it. They should publicly debate the solutions and defend their positions. House Budget Chairman Steve Womack and Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi should preside over the hearings.
9. Balanced Budget Amendment: Give the states the opportunity to vote on whether Congress should be subject to balancing the federal budget. We will never reign in spending until the American people have to pay for what we’re actually spending. There are several drafted amendments to choose from. If two-thirds of the states want Congress to balance the budget, then they’ll have a mandate for it.
10. Confirm Trump Appointees: The U.S. Senate should refuse to recess until all the president’s appointees have been voted on. Inexplicably, there are 160 nominations in committee and another 199 pending on the Senate calendar. Congress should put an end to the delay of the Senate minority.