Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 11.16.12

Congressman H. Morgan Griffith
2012-11-16 17:35:19
Good Process, Good Policy / Bad Process, No Policy Last week’s e-newsletter reflected on our Founding Fathers’ design that our government be deliberate and cumbersome so as to build consensus and compromise before taking action. While that can be frustrating, it helps to ensure that all viewpoints are heard and given due consideration. However, I believe that our Founding Fathers would be disappointed in the way that one particular piece of the process is being used – the Senate filibuster. We’ve all seen the classic movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington where Jimmy Stewart holds the Senate floor with an impassioned filibuster that slowly changes the minds of his fellow senators, and that process is a good one. But starting in the 1970’s, a senator can filibuster by merely picking up the telephone and saying “I want to filibuster the bill” without ever taking a step on the Senate floor. Furthermore, this phone filibuster is often done anonymously. This means that when Senate business grinds to a halt, no one knows which of the 100 senators is to blame. The use of filibusters by both parties has skyrocketed over the last few decades. The end result is that nearly all Senate business requires 60 votes to proceed, a high hurdle these days. This is not what the Founding Fathers intended. Some senators are working to reform this modern filibuster rule. I wholeheartedly support this reform. Senators should still be able to filibuster, but they should have to be physically speaking on the Senate floor in order to do so. Like “Mr. Smith,” they should have to read the New York City phone book or read War and Peace on the floor. That means they will only do it when they passionately believe it is very important. I believe that’s the way our Founding Fathers and Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith would’ve wanted it. Because the Republicans are the minority party in the Senate, I’m aware that filibuster reform would result in more Democratic-passed bills in the Senate. But that is the way a democratic-republican form of government is supposed to work. As it stands now, the House passes legislation that the Senate may not like, but the modern Senate filibuster prevents the Senate from making a legislative “counteroffer” to the House. I may often disagree with the content of Senate legislation, but at least if the Senate can pass some things, then the House and Senate can begin the process of resolving their respective differences in legislation. The final bill would have to be approved by both the House and Senate. This is the how the process is designed to work, and it is essential to begin building the consensus and compromise. This is what our country expects from its elected leaders. Thanksgiving Blessing As you and your loved ones prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday next week, I’d like to wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving with the traditional Thanksgiving hymn “We Gather Together.” We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing; he chastens and hastens his will to make known; the wicked oppressing now cease from distressing: sing praise to his Name, he forgets not his own. Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining, ordaining, maintaining his kingdom divine; so from the beginning the fight we were winning: thou, Lord, wast at our side: all glory be thine! We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant, and pray that thou still our defender wilt be. Let thy congregation escape tribulation: thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free! I’d also like to like to remind our friends from the Bay State that America’s First Thanksgiving was in fact at Berkeley Plantation on the James River in 1619. Upon arriving at the Berkeley site on December 4, 1619, Captain John Woodlief prayed: “We ordaine that this day of our ships arrival, at the place assigned for plantacon, (meaning plantation) in the land of Virginia, shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.” It wasn’t until two years later – November 1621 – that the pilgrims of Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts held their version of “Thanksgiving.” While Massachusetts may have a better P.R. machine, we have Virginia to thank for Thanksgiving. As always, if you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. ###
November 16, 2012
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U.S. Congressman Morgan Griffith
Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 11.16.12

Friday, November 16, 2012 –                                

Good Process, Good Policy / Bad Process, No Policy

Last week’s e-newsletter reflected on our Founding Fathers’ design that our government be deliberate and cumbersome so as to build consensus and compromise before taking action.  While that can be frustrating, it helps to ensure that all viewpoints are heard and given due consideration.  However, I believe that our Founding Fathers would be disappointed in the way that one particular piece of the process is being used – the Senate filibuster. 

We’ve all seen the classic movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington where Jimmy Stewart holds the Senate floor with an impassioned filibuster that slowly changes the minds of his fellow senators, and that process is a good one.  But starting in the 1970’s, a senator can filibuster by merely picking up the telephone and saying “I want to filibuster the bill” without ever taking a step on the Senate floor.  Furthermore, this phone filibuster is often done anonymously.  This means that when Senate business grinds to a halt, no one knows which of the 100 senators is to blame.  The use of filibusters by both parties has

Some senators are working to reform this modern filibuster rule.  I wholeheartedly support this reform.  Senators should still be able to filibuster, but they should have to be physically speaking on the Senate floor in order to do so.  Like “Mr. Smith,” they should have to read the New York City phone book or read War and Peace on the floor.  That means they will only do it when they passionately believe it is very important.  I believe that’s the way our Founding Fathers and Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith would’ve wanted it. 

Because the Republicans are the minority party in the Senate, I’m aware that filibuster reform would result in more Democratic-passed bills in the Senate.  But that is the way a democratic-republican form of government is supposed to work.  As it stands now, the House passes legislation that the Senate may not like, but the modern Senate filibuster prevents the Senate from making a legislative “counteroffer” to the House.  I may often disagree with the content of Senate legislation, but at least if the Senate can pass some things, then the House and Senate can begin the process of resolving their respective differences in legislation.  The final bill would have to be approved by both the House and Senate.  This is the how the process is designed to work, and it is essential to begin building the consensus and compromise.  This is what our country expects from its elected leaders.

Thanksgiving Blessing

As you and your loved ones prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday next week, I’d like to wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving with the traditional Thanksgiving hymn “We Gather Together.”

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
he chastens and hastens his will to make known;
the wicked oppressing now cease from distressing:
sing praise to his Name, he forgets not his own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
ordaining, maintaining his kingdom divine;
so from the beginning the fight we were winning:
thou, Lord, wast at our side: all glory be thine!

We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant,
and pray that thou still our defender wilt be.
Let thy congregation escape tribulation:
thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

I’d also like to like to remind our friends from the Bay State that America’s First Thanksgiving was in fact at Berkeley Plantation on the James River in 1619.  Upon arriving at the Berkeley site on December 4, 1619, Captain John Woodlief prayed: “We ordaine that this day of our ships arrival, at the place assigned for plantacon, (meaning plantation) in the land of Virginia, shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

It wasn’t until two years later – November 1621 – that the pilgrims of Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts held their version of “Thanksgiving.”  While Massachusetts may have a better P.R. machine, we have Virginia to thank for Thanksgiving.

As always, if you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.

###

 

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