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Mary Pitt: America's Demands Of The 100th Congress

The Work Ahead
What America Demands Of The 100th Congress

by Mary Pitt

Let us all take time to rejoice over the "thumpin'" we delivered to Mr. Bush and his minions, to savor the absence of Rummy, and to allow the newly-elected Dems to learn the ropes of Washington procedures, and then let us hold their little feet to the fires of our agenda. Nancy Pelosi's plan for "The First One Hundred Hours" is excellent on its face, but that is but the tip of the iceberg and there is much yet to be done. These measures should accomplish something to ease the economic distress on the least affluent Americans, but this is only the tip of the iceberg of disaster which the Bush administration, with the complicity of the go-along-to-get-along Democrats. has created for our nation. While the whole body are putting in their "One Hundred Hours" in actual floor time in passing the Pelosi plan, the committees should be hard at work for many hours more in preparing the necessary measures to correct the atrocities which this administration has inflicted on our Constitution.

There is much to be done and it will not be accomplished with the work ethic which was displayed by the last Congress. Holding sessions for two or three days a week and going into long recesses on any event, (such as Saint Patrick's Day), will not be accepted by the public. When Congressmen receive pay raises that are more than many ordinary working people earn in a whole year, they will be expected to earn it. We realize that, first and foremost, they must deal with the problems of Iraq, the working-class economy, and with the flood of illegal immigrants which are plaguing the health of the nation but, inasmuch as the freedom of our citizenry and the continuation of our democracy are seriously at risk, they must not neglect the restoration of the balance of power and the return to Constitutional government.

They should bear in mind that the measures which were passed by the 109th Congress can be countermanded by the 110th Congress and they should get right to work on many of them. There are many measures which must be rescinded on an urgent basis, beginning with the blanket permission for Mr Bush to use his own judgement as to whether and when to go to war. The declaration of war is the Constitutional responsiblity of Congress and they were remiss in surrendering it to the administrative branch. It must be reclaimed immediately. Then, all the laws permitting the administration total control over domestic and foreign issues, and there are several of these, which must be revoked or corrected., paricularly the "fast track authority". First to fall should be the hated Patriot Act with its delegation of power to the executive to suspend habeus corpus at will and to detain any American citizen without charge or any legal formality. Of equal importance is the authority to suspend posse commitatus, to take control of National Guard troops with or without the consent of the Governors of the States and to send them to another area of the country to "put down insurrections". This measure, if taken to extremes, would allow a President to commandeer the Texas National Guard, send them to Washington, and order them to take all opposition Senators and Congressmen to Guantanamo and intern them there, creating a dictatorship that would end the United States as we know it.

Having thus secured our nation from the inside, they can begin cleaning up the messy little details that slipped in when they were hiding under the bed from fear of the "terrorists". They should, by statute, eliminate the possibility of future "Presidential signing statements" exempting the executive branch from laws which are legally passed by the Legislature and they must countermand most of the "executive orders" which have been issued from the White House, particularly the one that seals the Presidential papers from public scrutiny for many years to come. How can we "learn from history" if that history in all its naked truth is forever hidden from us?

They must also revoke all laws in which they were complicit in passing that remove the protections of the Constitution from the citizens of the United States. In fact, the 109th Congress enacted measures which effectively removed eight of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights as well as three of the remainder. Some may quibble about the inclusion of Amendment XIII, but there are many among us who feel that the repeated "retentions" and "involuntary recalls" of soldiers can be compared to the slave soldiers of the Roman Empire who were required to fight to the death while, in the absence of the draft, others in their social class are free to pursue their lives without responsibility.

All these things must be done while, at the same time, a new plan must be formulated to extract ourselves from the war in the Middle East. It will not be easy or quick to make all these corrections and, given that the majority of Congress will still be the same "moderates" who are more intent on the political ramifications of their actions than on the good of the nation as whole, they may not exhibit the intestinal fortitude to pursue these goals to completion. In that case, there will be another election, and another. If it requires the action of ten Congresses and two or three Presidents, it must and will be done. It is the will of the people and we will not be denied.


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