With the convening of the 112th Congress, Republicans pledge to bring investigations, commit to the work of the Constitution, work for the American people and repeal everything that the Obama Administration has passed. In their first week, Republicans have skipped taking their oath of office to attend a fundraiser, voted without being sworn into office and solicited major corporations to inquire how they might best help them.
Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R. PA) and Rep. Pete Sessions ( R. TX) missed the swearing in to attend a fundraiser in the Capitol Visitor Center for Fitzpatrick. They claimed that they watched the swearing in on television. Somehow, they initially failed to realize the stupidity of their act. Subsequently, they sent a letter to all members of Congress apologizing for their act. And now several watch dog organizations are looking into the legality of their holding a fundraiser in the Visitor’s Center. Apparently, lawmakers are prohibited from holding any fundraiser in the Capitol. Fitzpatrick and Sessions were attending a $30 per person fundraiser for Fitzpatrick. The Sunlight Foundation and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, claim that ethics rules bar the acceptance of campaign funds on the Capitol grounds. According to the The Hill.com, the Sunlight Foundation has asked the Office of Congressional Ethics and House Ethics Committee to look into the matter to determine if any ethics violations have been committed. And here comes another first. Sessions and Fitzpatrick voted on matters without being sworn into office. Their watching of the oath taking on television did not count. According to Politico, the House voted to nullify the 6 votes taken by Sessions and Fitzpatrick before their official swearing in. Just as Republicans have vowed to doggedly pursue Democrats for any wrongdoing, Republicans should also vow to keep their members in compliance with ethics rules and conduct investigations of any members if a wrong has been committed. So far, House Speaker Boehner has been quiet on the matters.
House Speaker Boehner started the first day of the 112th Congress with the reading of the Constitution. The reading of the Constitution is a historical start for newly elected members of Congress. What is really necessary is an understanding of the Constitution and all its amendments by all members of Congress. Good luck with that one. Many of the newly elected members of Congress also need a civics class as some have never served in any elected office. Of course, that’s not a requirement to serving in Congress. Constitutional law professors and scholars study to interpret the constitution. Supreme Court justices every day take to the task of understanding the Constitution. Reading it and expecting the newly members of Congress to understand it is like asking people to read the Bible and give their interpretation. You will get as many interpretations as there are pages. Many Republican members already want to change or repeal amendments, like the 14th amendment. Many, including the Tea Party, think we need to go back to the days of the founding fathers when women, blacks, native Americans and non-property owners were not given rights under the Constitution. Turning back the hands of the clock will not solve the country’s problems nor move the country forward.
Republicans who pledge to work for the American people have circulated a letter to 150 major oil companies, drug manufacturers and other major corporations to inquire how they can best help corporations. According to Politico, the letter was sent by Rep. Darrell Issa ( R. CA), Chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. It was not enough for Republicans that the Supreme Court sold out the American public with the historic case of Citizens United, by giving big corporations the right to contribute zillions of dollars to political campaigns anonymously which allowed many Republicans to win elections. Republicans now want to reward big corporations. After all, it’s only fair. Big business came through for them when it was needed. So much for Republicans asserting that they are representing and speaking for the American people. The American people that Republicans represent are the same ones who caused the economic decline of the country.
Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer and former prosecutor. She is a contributing writer to the Huffington Post. She holds a Juris Doctorate from George Washington University and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.