• 27°

Defund Congress: Lawmakers might better represent the people if forced to live their struggles

As millions remain unemployed and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread and wreak havoc on nearly every sector of American life, from the economy and employment to education and healthcare, U.S. lawmakers continue to sit on their hands and fail at their most basic task of keeping the nation afloat during times of crisis.

To be sure, the Democrat-led U.S. House of Representatives can’t be blamed, as it passed a $3 trillion aid package, known as the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, largely along partisan lines, in mid-May, but the U.S. Senate should absolutely be blamed.

Thus far, the Senate, under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, has failed to take up the House legislation and has failed to reach an agreement on its own legislation, the proposed Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, which looks to slash increased unemployment benefits from $600 to $200 per week.

Perhaps if lawmakers were forced to grapple with the daily struggles so common to folks trying to survive after losing their jobs, they would be more inclined to actually work on behalf of the American people.

Indeed, what does a member of Congress know about the struggles of the vast majority of Americans?

Have they ever had to decide between buying groceries or paying utility bills? Are they right now mulling how to educate their children safely? Are they right now one more missed paycheck from homelessness? Do they go sick for weeks because they don’t have health insurance and can’t afford to see a doctor?

The simple answer is no – our politicians are so far detached from reality that they wouldn’t know the plight of a working class American unless it was rolled out for them by a gas industry lobbyist – which leaves little doubt as to why they find it fitting to dillydally while families suffer.

Add to that the fact that Senate negotiations have stalled over McConnell’s insistence that the new relief package include protections for businesses against pandemic-related lawsuits and the picture of political antipathy becomes even more grotesque.

Party of choice aside, we should all be waking up to the fact that our politicians, no matter how they claim to understand or empathize, no matter what promises they make, are largely working in their own best interest – hardly a better illustration could exist than failing to provide relief for millions of suffering and struggling Americans during a worldwide pandemic – and only pay heed to the needs of the people when it comes time to go to the polls.

Defund Congress – minimum wage salaries all around, no health coverage, no benefits and no paid time off, the possibility of being fired at any time for any reason – and the needs of the people will quickly become first priority because, for the first time in a long time, the politicians will once again be of and among them.