|Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 9.22.14
Monday, September 22, 2014 â€“
Bipartisan Agreement: Good Process, Good Policy / Bad Process, No Policy
On many occasions, I have taken issue with the modern interpretation of the Senate filibuster rule. The historical rule â€“ as depicted in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington when Jimmy Stewart holds the floor with an impassioned filibuster that slowly changes the minds of his fellow senators â€“ is a good process. But starting in the 1970â€™s, a senator can filibuster by merely making a request (and the senatorâ€™s identity doesnâ€™t even have to be made public).
I strongly believe that this modern filibuster rule is a threat to the long-term stability of the Republic, and that it devalues the role of Congress. It would appear that liberal Democrat Congressman John Larson (CT-01) agrees with me.
On September 17, Congressman Larson and I were among a number of our colleagues who discussed how to streamline and make Congress more efficient at a Membersâ€™ Day hearing held by the panel responsible for the process, procedures, and internal operations of the House, relations between the two houses of Congress, and the relations between Congress and the Judiciary.
Congressman Larson, who has been serving in Congress since 1999, noted how rare it is for Congress to complete anything in regular order. â€śThe reason we donâ€™t,â€ť he said at the hearing, â€śis that the Senate figured out a while ago that itâ€™s in their best interest that there not be regular order.â€ť
Congressman Larson stated that even when Democrats were in control of both the House and the Senate, nearly 500 House-passed bills (70 percent of which he said were bipartisan) were never taken up in the Senate.
How many House-passed bills are currently awaiting action in the Senate, you ask? 387.
As a potential solution, Congressman Larson proposed that any bill originating in the Senate be subject to the same rules it was subjected to in the Senate upon arrival in the House. What that means is senatorsâ€™ bills would be subject to a hold being placed on the bill in the House of Representatives until 60 percent of the House agreed to end debate on that measure.
I may not agree with Congressman Larson on everything, but what an innovative idea! I enthusiastically â€śsecondedâ€ť this concept at the hearing. The Senate probably wonâ€™t like this, but I believe this will force the Senators to return to their pre-1970's rule. More bills will be voted on, more compromises will be reached, and I believe the public will have a more positive view of Congress in the process.
At the hearing, I proposed a change that will help us limit federal spending, among other things. I will continue pushing for these and other improvements to Congressional rules.
Angels in Adoption
For the past 16 years, the nonpartisan Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) has hosted the Angels in Adoption program to increase awareness of the positive impact adoption can have and also honor those from throughout the country who are doing great things on behalf of children without homes.
Three families from the Ninth District were suggested to us by the Virginia Department of Social Services as candidates for the Angels in Adoption awards. At their recommendation, we forwarded these familiesâ€™ stories to the CCAI selection committee for consideration in this yearâ€™s program. While all three of these families have certainly made a difference, Mr. and Mrs. Patrick and Emily Herndon of Salem were named by CCAI the Ninth District of Virginiaâ€™s 2014 Angels in Adoption.
In 2012, the Herndons became foster parents to a young man named Calvin. Just over one year later, soon after Calvinâ€™s sixteenth birthday, the adoption process was finalized. â€śIâ€™d like to introduce you to our son,â€ť the Herndons wrote in their blog. â€śOur real son. â€¦ Born: 1/20/96. Adopted: 2/12/13.â€ť
But thereâ€™s more! The Herndons are continuing to serve as foster parents and are hoping to one day adopt a young girl, Elizabeth, whom they are currently fostering.
Mr. and Mrs. Herndon traveled to Washington, D.C. the week of September 15 in order to be officially honored as 2014 Angels in Adoption. I was fortunate enough to spend time with them while they were there. They are kind-hearted, compassionate people, and I am deeply thankful for their dedication and willingness to bring these children in their lives.
Best wishes to the Herndons and all Ninth District heroes who open their hearts and their homes or advocate on behalf of children needing a forever family.
As always, if you have concerns or comments or wish to inquire about legislative issues, feel free to contact my offices. 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.