The Senate is often referred to as a “club” — a term that certainly fits. The nickname was reinforced last week by a behind the scenes account of GOP senators who view their “club” as a pretty exclusive place.
Basically, conservative ideas, opinions, and research need not apply.
The main focus of The Hill’s article was about GOP senators criticizing Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, for not showing more “collegiality” towards fellow Republicans, i.e., not being more of a go along, get along, get in line type of lawmaker.
Lee apparently believes the GOP conference rule on term limits, which holds that senators in leadership positions must step aside after three terms, should be followed. But as the account reveals, this is about more than certain senators just wanting to hold on to their leadership positions. It would seem some senators don’t like the fact that Lee and his staff talk to people outside the club to fact check and get input about legislation that has been introduced by other Republicans.
As The Hill reports:
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., accused Lee’s staff on the Republican Steering Committee of coordinating with outside groups to oppose compromise bills put together by Republican senators, according to sources who attended Thursday’s meeting…
Corker argued that it’s counterproductive for an internal Senate policy group funded with dues from GOP senators to stake out positions against bills championed by those member senators.
So, is Corker suggesting that the Republican Steering Committee should simply support whatever legislation any GOP senator, who is a member, introduces? Is he suggesting that senators should not seek research from outside groups about the impacts of this or that legislative proposal?
Frankly, I would expect my members of Congress to do a little homework. I don’t want them rubberstamping a bill simply because one of their colleagues introduced it or a group of them have put together a “compromise” bill.
Maybe Corker doesn’t like the fact that organizations like The Heritage Foundation have buildings full of researchers and policy experts whose full-time job it is to comb through legislative proposals, analyzing the pros and cons, what they will cost taxpayers, and how people will be affected by them. And that’s exactly what Heritage scholars did with a current proposal put forward by Corker dealing with the issue of human trafficking.
Corker should be applauded for taking on this issue. He should not take offense that Heritage’s analysis of the bill, which we made public as we do with all our research, found that the legislation needed to be strengthened to achieve its objectives and to ensure U.S. taxpayer dollars and “funds from any organization or program established by the U.S. government” are not spent in ways that conflict with U.S. policy.
Unfortunately, Corker isn’t alone in his view that organizations like Heritage and others, who represent millions of Americans, shouldn’t be meddling in their business. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is quoted in the article saying that “Generally speaking, any effort that would encourage outside groups to weigh in on internal discussions is not healthy.”
When “internal discussions” are about the positive or negative impact a particular bill might have, it would seem our public servants shouldn’t be so afraid of input from, well, the public.
Perhaps Corker and Murkowski wish others weren’t paying such close attention so their legislative proposals could sail through. It would be much easier for them if things operated that way. But it would not be good for the American people—who may not “pay dues” to the Senate conference but who do pay the salaries of every member of Congress.