Cooper Scorns Complete Dysfunction in Congress, Calls on Congress to Enact Self-Governing Measures
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today criticized congressional leaders for general inaction and incompetence, citing a long list of missed deadlines, stalled priorities and policy blunders.
Rep. Cooper urged House leadership to clear several must-pass measures, and he pushed for self-policing bills that would hold Congress accountable for inaction and misbehavior.
“One party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House. Yet very little good is getting done,” Rep. Cooper said. “We need priorities in Washington, D.C., to align with priorities here in Tennessee. Congress shouldn’t be a clown show.”
Rep. Cooper called attention to the following issues:
- Government Shutdown: Barring action from the House and Senate, the federal government will shut down at the end of Friday. Previous shutdowns occurred under divided government – when Republicans controlled one or both houses of Congress and Democrats controlled the presidency, or the reverse. But it has never happened under unified party control. A longtime advocate of congressional accountability, Rep. Cooper supports the No Budget, No Pay Act and the Hold Congress Accountable Act. The latter bill would reduce the salary of members of Congress during a government shutdown.
- Short-Term Spending: Even if Republicans resolve their differences this week, any spending bill is likely to be just a brief stopgap. Top Pentagon officials have described such short-term agreements as “wasteful and inefficient,” as well as “damaging” to the military.
- CHIP: Congress is already more than two months late in reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a lifeline for 9 million children, including many thousands of young Tennesseans.
- Taxes: An emerging Republican tax plan – subject to no real hearings in the House or Senate – is speeding along in Congress despite “glitches” and other problems with its drafting. A report by the Joint Tax Committee indicates the plan would add $1 trillion to the debt. Even Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker voted against the Senate Republican version of the tax plan.
- Immigration: The No. 2 Senate Republican this week vowed that his party would not prioritize year-end negotiations to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, leaving 690,000 currently protected, law-abiding young people at risk of deportation.
- Conduct in Congress: Sexual harassment allegations continue to plague the Capitol. Rep. Cooper is a lead cosponsor of a bill that would empower victims of sexual harassment and eliminate the confidential “hush fund” currently used to settle sexual harassment claims in Congress. But House Republican leadership has failed to bring this measure to a vote.
“Republicans should work with Democrats to keep government open, to legislate like adults and to start helping all Americans,” Rep. Cooper said.