Dear Congress: We’ll Pay for Your Ticket Home If You Leave Now!

December 20, 2010

Congress is still in session with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi frantically trying to pass a number of bills. Quite frankly, I don’t care whether any of these bills has merit or not. Especially anything that should pass, should not be tainted with the whiff of illegitimacy by being passed in this Lame Duck Congress.

America has already tried to outlaw lame duck sessions and, after the ratification of the 20th Amendment, it looked for a long time like we succeeded. David Fahrenthold in the Washington Post writes about the goal of the 20th Amendment:

Historians say lawmakers thought they were ending lame-duck Congresses forever.

“This amendment will free Congress of the dead hand of the so-called ‘lame duck,’ ” Rep. Wilburn Cartwright (D-Okla.) said as it was debated in 1932.

But there was a problem. The amendment didn’t actually say it would end lame-duck Congresses forever. Its text only moved Congress’s end date from March back to early January (it also shifted the presidential inauguration from March to Jan. 20).

At that time, historians say, it was inconceivable that lawmakers would journey back to Washington to meet for a few weeks after Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, the authors of the Twentieth Amendment didn’t anticipate abundant and relatively cheap air travel. We need an amendment to the Constitution clarifying the intent of the 20th Amendment. Maybe we should give it some teeth and threaten legislators that convene in a lame duck session with imprisonment. We can have an except for a national security emergency declared by the president.

For now, all we can say is: “Please go home! We voted many of you out of office so you would stop putting your interest ahead what’s best for the people and for the preservation of liberty. We didn’t mean for you to get one last chance to feed at the trough.”

The Lame Duck Congress in Session

Radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt has suggested that Congress pass a law that gives every member of Congress $10 million if they leave now. It would be cheaper than if they continue in session and pass more spending. I don’t know about ten million, but we certainly can treat them to first class tickets home. That’s not even a rounding error in federal spending.

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