Issue: Government Function - U.S. Congress
The citizens of our country today have little regard for the performance of the U.S. Congress. Recently, Congress has passed fewer bills in its sessions then have been passed in most other congressional sessions in recent recorded history. When legislation is passed, it is not clear that the legislation is designed to meet real immediate or potential future needs. It is also not clear that efforts are made to include in that legislation means to monitor for or avoid future unintended consequences. This includes passing on the financial and social costs associated with the legislation to those younger than the legislators. Recommendations for specific procedures that Congress could/should adopt, modify or eliminate to improve its operation are to be proposed and discussed.
An abuse of public transparency in our U.S. Congress is the procedure of voice voting. In this age of electronic counting, and with the citizens of our country deserving to know where our elected representatives stand on different issues, the continuation of this practice is not appropriate. It is the position of the NewUSA Issues Forum™ that voice voting should be banned in the U.S. Congress.
A discharge petition can be used by a majority of members (irrespective of party affiliation) of the House of Representatives to bring a blocked bill out of committee and to the floor for consideration. It bypasses the need for a report from the committee considering the bill, by discharging the committee (if it or its chair is holding up the bill) from further consideration of that bill. It is actually a very democratic activity, and its use could overcome the "Hastert Rule" (which of course is not a rule). The discharge petition requires the signatures of a majority of House members. If this process was used often enough, many bills which are locked out of House consideration but which are important to the American people could actually be voted on and approved by a majority of the House. A small group of members of the house in one party (if they agreed to stick together over time) could actually begin to share control of the House of Representative with the agreement of many members of the other party. If this occurred often enough, the "Hastert Rule" would prove to be useless, a waste of time on the legislative calendar, and hopefully discarded.
There is an ongoing discussion of whether or not limits should be placed on the length of time that an individual can serve in a given elected office, at any and all levels of government. It is the position of the NewUSA Issues Forum that no person should serve in any office, at any level of government, for more than twelve (12) years. For example, no person should be allowed to serve more than 6 terms in an office where each term is of two (2) years duration, or four or three terms where each term is of three (3) or four (4) years duration (respectively), or for two (2) terms, where each term is of six (6) years duration. These term limits would be in place whether the terms served were sequential or not. Where these term limits cannot be set by legislation within a level of political organization, it is suggested that the term limits be set for support of any individual by political parties, where the office is partisan.