What do building infrastructure, improving health care, protecting voting rights, expanding economic opportunity, insuring clean water and protecting women have in common? They are all included in bills passed by House Democrats and sitting on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk.
The American people have a right to know what policies cannot be acted upon due to Republican obstruction. The American voters are being held hostage, while the Trump administration plays politics. All the while sick people are not receiving the medical care they need, retirement benefits are being withheld, the air is not fit to breathe and children are dying at the border.
In January 2019, just a few days after being sworn in as the 116th Congress, the House of Democratic lawmakers introduced a comprehensive reform bill, later known as H.R. 1, or For the People Act sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md. Its original focus was to expand voter registration and access, strengthen ethics rules and reduce influence of big money on the electoral process. However, the For the People Agenda has grown into a road map of commitments made for and on behalf of the American people. Hundreds of bills have been passed by House Democrats yet few Americans can list even one.
For the sake of brevity, I cannot list every bill sitting in political limbo, but will try to highlight a range of issues, important to many of us:
• H.R. 1585 — Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act; reauthorizes the 1994 amendment providing legal and healthcare services to victims of domestic violence.
• H.R. 986 — Protecting Americans with Pre-existing Conditions Act; protects the basic premise of the Affordable Health Care Act of 2010. Denial of health care cannot be based upon pre-existing illnesses or diseases.
• H.R. 2820 — Dream and Promise Act of 2019; provides pathway to permanent legal status for immigrant children living in this country.
• H.R. 5 — The Equality Act; prohibits discrimination based on sex, gender or sexual orientation.
• H.R. 790 — Federal Civilian Workforce Pay Raise Fairness Act; matches pay raises received by uniformed military personnel.
• H.R. 465 — Prescription Drug Price Relief Act of 2019; demands that the Department of Health and Human Services review at least annually, all brand-name drugs, for excessive pricing.
• H.R. 2722 — Securing America’s Federal Elections Act (SAFE) of 2019; ensures a paper trail for American ballots, gives accessibility for citizens with disabilities and avoids foreign rigging.
• H.R.109 — Recognizing the Duty of the Federal Government to Create a Green Deal; achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, create high paying jobs, invest in sustainable infrastructure, protect vulnerable communities and manage long term adverse health issues.
• H.R. 582 — Raise the Wage Act. (amending Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938); raises the minimum wage, $8.40 an hour, beginning on the effective date of the law, and increasing $1.00 per hour every year to $15.00 minimum wage on year 6. At year 7, the raise amount to be determined by the Secretary of Labor.
The list of bills passed by Congress but not the Senate, could go on for the remainder of this newspaper, but for anyone to state that this is a “do nothing Congress,” is to refuse to acknowledge facts.
We must wonder why none of these important Bills are being enacted by the Senate? The only logical answer I could find and that makes any sense, is that this administration doesn’t want the American people to believe there is more that unites us than divides us. We are one people, for the people.
Francine DeSanctis is vice president of the Board of Directors of the Talbot County Democratic Forum. She writes from Tilghman.