After an election in 2012 in which Republican priorities were resoundingly rejected, House Republicans blocked action on every major item it was poised to consider – bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform, stemming the tide of gun violence, completing a Farm Bill, and extending long term unemployment insurance for millions.
Just about the only things the Tea Party driven House Republicans were able to accomplish this year were party line ideological stances that were dead on arrival in the Senate and would have been vetoed by the President. They voted 46 times to block access to reasonably priced health care for millions of Americans. They shut down the government for 16 days, costing the American economy $24 billion and leaving nearly a million federal employees out of work. They rejected bipartisan-Senate passed legislation on immigration reform and gun violence prevention.
On top of that, House Republicans couldn’t pass the Farm bill despite gutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to the tune of $40 billion to appease the Tea Party.
All told, only 56 bills were sent to the President’s desk this year, with little meaningful legislation passed. It was a year wasted that would have been better spent on job creation and efforts to grow the economy. Instead they chose to focus on divisive social issues that pandered to their base.
Americans deserve better. They need better. Every day, people are struggling to make ends meet. House Democrats have been ready all year to work with our colleagues on bipartisan solutions to the challenges facing us – solutions that create jobs, grow the economy, slow the growth in health care costs, feed the hungry, and strengthen the middle class. At every step, House Republicans beholden to the Tea Party caucus have refused.
Last week’s budget deal signals the first steps of an effort to move past this dysfuntion. I hope my Republican colleagues return in the new year ready to move forward for their constituents, to create jobs, grow the economy, improve healthcare, and serve the American people they were elected to represent.