Not Worth the Paper They’re Printed On?


Legislators take a beating (some of it deserved) at all levels for some of the bills and resolutions they consider that either have little to do with good government or have about as much of a chance at becoming law as I do of starring in the next James Bond movie.

Congress.org, which reports on the developments and shenanigans in our nation’s capital, pointed out recently that more than 11,000 bills were filed in 2007-2008, with 460 signed into law. That’s a 23-1 ratio. It went on to compile a list of what it terms "10 hopeless bills." 

A few selections from its list:

Congressional alternates (Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, R-California). Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Rohrabacher has tried to address inadequacies in Congressional succession. Nine years later, the lawmaker continues to keep up the pressure. Rohrabacher’s bill would require the election of an alternative representative or senator during a regular Congressional election. Each candidate would chose his or her alternate, who would then discharge the duties of an acting Member in absence of a Congressional quorum for three days. An alternate could also become an Acting Member if an elected representative or senator died, resigned or was expelled from Congress.

Presidential succession (Rep. Brad Sherman, D-California). Since the 107th Congress, which spanned 2001 to 2002, Sherman has introduced bills to reform presidential succession. In Sherman’s last attempt in 2007, his bill would have modified the presidential succession list to include the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Ambassador to the United Nations, the Ambassador to Great Britain, the Ambassador to Russia, the Ambassador to China and the Ambassador to France.

Three-term presidents (Rep. Jose Serrano, D-New York). Since 1997, Serrano has introduced a joint resolution every Congress — a grand total of seven times — that would repeal the 22nd amendment, thereby removing the current limit of two terms that individual may serve as president. The 22nd amendment, which was ratified in 1951, restricts a president from seeking a third term in office.

Abolishing the Federal Reserve (Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas). This bill would abolish the Federal Reserve’s board of governors and the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks, all of which provide input to the central bank on federal monetary policy decisions. If enacted, the legislation would also repeal the Federal Reserve Act, which in 1913 set up the bank as the fiscal agent of the federal government. In effect, the legislation would restore the U.S. to a system of entirely private banking.

The Department of Peace (Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio). This is Kucinich’s third attempt at establishing the Department of Peace as a Cabinet-level position which would pursue peace as a national policy objective and promote nonviolent conflict resolution. To that end, Kucinich’s bill would create eight separate offices within the Department of Peace, including the Office of Peace Education and Training and the Office of International Peace Activities.

In the event of violent conflict resolution, the department would consult with the secretaries of defense and state. Certain functions that already exist within the federal government would also be transferred to the new department, such as the State Department’s arms control operation. The department would be led by the Secretary of Peace who, in addition to leading the agency, would be responsible for creating and successfully implementing a "Peace Day" holiday.

In his 13 years in Congress, Kucinich has crafted his image by laying down the liberal gauntlet. Of the 97 bills that the lawmaker has introduced, only three have made it out of committee and gone onto become law. 

2 thoughts on “Not Worth the Paper They’re Printed On?

  1. Have all 11000 pieces of legislation been perused to reach the conclusions in this list?

    While I reserve opinion on the majority, the last one I take issue with. The World Health Organization estimates we spend $300 Billion annually on the costs of interpersonal violence in this country, excluding the cost of war. Proactively addressing violence in our society — from youth homicide and suicide to bullying in schools and violence against women and partners and much more — rather than reacting to it is costing each one of us taxpayer dollars, as well as the needless loss of life. Getting to the root cause of violence is not only practical, but is our only sustainable option, and should be part of any strong economic recovery plan.

    A Department of Peace — we can’t afford not to. Check it out at http://www.thepeacealliance.org.

  2. I think I’d agree with Terry that a Peace Department is not an outlandish goal when you consider some of the other things our federal government spends money on. Various forms of conflict resolution and peace education are already taught in our society. In fact, I believe Manchester College right here in Indiana has the oldest Peace Studies program in the country. I think sometimes the notion of world peace has a connotation of naivete in some circles in that it can’t or shouldn’t attempt to be achieved. For a nation that prides itself on being predominantly Christian, I’ve always found that to be paradoxical and unfortunate.

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