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Progress in Washington

Post # 233, Bob McKnight's Florida Commentary

"There is movement."

President Joe Biden

During a recent post to this Commentary, I pointed out the success of the two parties in Washington resulting from a "Codel." That is a Congressional trip for fact finding or oversight, typically in a foreign country. I tried to point out that a Codel is an opportunity for members of Congress to get to know each other and possible coalesce around issues outside of their leadership.

In reviewing similar bipartisan progress, the following show signs of encouragement:

1. Semiconductor Legislation. The distribution backlog in our ports and highways has particularly harmful to our computer and tech industry requiring semiconductors, typically made in Taiwan. Bi-Partsian legislation is working through the Congress to put China on notice that the United States will do whatever is necessary to protect Taiwan from an attack. Speaker Pelosi's trip to Taiwan helped send a clear message of U.S. support throughout the region. This has rankled China, and the consensus across the aisle has sent them a chilling message from Congress.

2. Gun Legislation. Although the legislation was modest by most standards, any gun control legislation is a major success, with the National Rifle Association, the enemy. Even conservative Texas Senator John Cornyn got behind the just passed bills, with the thought that more may follow.

3. Election Reform. This is probably the most surprising legislation because Republicans are actually saying that local state election authorities cannot easily overturn elections. This is the heart of former President Donald Trump's whole strategy to overturn the 2020 election. How far the Republicans will go with this issue remains to be seen.

4. Infrastructure. This is the first bill that drew any bi-partisan support, and it was not much but enough. In the past this is the center piece of the GOP, but not with Trump. Incredibly, Republicans who voted against the funding went home and claimed credit for delivering the new projects. Essentially all the Florida Republicans in Congress did that as well as our Governor Ron DeSantis, a probable candidate for the GOP nomination in 2024.

5. Climate Change. Although this compromise was not bi-partisan, it is a very significant break through for the Congress and President Biden. Biden had established climate legislation as the hallmark for his Administration, but ran into a road block from his old Democratic friend in the Senate, Joe Manchin. Out the blue a couple of weeks ago, Manchin (WV) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) announced they had reached agreement on climate change and additional medical reforms to Obama Care, as well as some taxes on the wealthy, all Democratic priorities. The price tag was huge--$740 Billion, but the sponsors said it has funding to lower the deficit. At least it is a signal that really significant legislation is starting to move in Washington.

6. Aid for Veterans. Senator Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) manufactured bogus reasons to object to this straight forward funding relief for up to 3.5 Million our brave veterans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. But none other than comedian Jon Stewart called Toomey's hand and won. The President signed the $ 280 Billion funding for victims of the Burn Pits in service to our country overseas. Senator Toomey never served our country in the military anywhere, but he did achieve the rank of Eagle in the Boy Scouts.

So the bipartisan movement is small and slow, but to the leaders' credit on both sides, progress has started. One may ask why and why now? Although I believe Manchin and Biden probably like one another from their service together in the Senate, I really attribute the changing attitude toward compromise for the Democrats probably is the stellar work and reputation of the January 6th Special House Committee. Donald Trump's favorability polling is rapidly dropping and other GOP back benchers like Congressmen Gaetz, Gohmert, and Jordan as well as Senators Josh Hawley, Rick Scott, and Ron Johnson are dragging down support among Americans. Much of this change in attitudes toward the extreme right wing of the GOP is directed more to their behavior rather than their politics.


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