- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed
- Mississippi abortion law can’t be enforced
- Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in case vs. ‘American Sniper’ author Chris Kyle
- Middle Eastern firm’s deal to manage U.S. cargo port raises security concerns
- Bob McDonnell’s defense: Lonely wife developed ‘crush’ on CEO
- Chinese hackers stole ‘huge quantities’ of sensitive data on Israel’s Iron Dome
- House Republicans unveil bill to speed deportations of border children
- Californians protest middle school for hiring white man to teach cultural studies
- Killer’s sentencing overturned because mother couldn’t find seat in courtroom
Dropping symbolic votes raises a howl
Interest groups see awareness value
Question of the Day
Looking to clear space on the legislative calendar for more important work, House Republicans promised last year to ban purely commemorative legislation, like resolutions honoring sports teams or designating awareness days — but that seemingly innocuous move has left some groups frustrated.
“This is a piece of paper but it’s huge in our world of education,” said Linda Reinstein, co-founder of the Los Angles-based Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. After working with the Senate for nearly a decade to pass resolutions calling attention to asbestos, she said a stamp of approval from Congress is an invaluable tool to educate people about its dangers.
“That gives us leverage to raise awareness,” she said. “For us, it’s huge.”
Before the ban, the House typically devoted the first few days each week it was in session to passing symbolic resolutions: Giving official recognition to things like the fabled Battle of Marathon or the 50th anniversary of the Miles Davis classic “Kind of Blue.”
But after voters handed them the majority in 2010, Republicans said the practice was silly, wasteful and not what the Founding Fathers intended.
“I do not suspect that Jefferson or Madison ever envisioned Congress honoring the 2,560th anniversary of the birth of Confucius or supporting the designation of national ‘Pi’ day,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor wrote in a letter to colleagues at the time.
The symbolic votes went on as usual in the Senate in 2011, but the lower chamber fell in line with Mr. Cantor: the House usually passes more than 400 resolutions each year, it approved 132 in 2011.
Some feel the House should have drawn a distinction between resolutions that recognize a local accomplishment — like congratulating a sports team — and resolutions that could help an advocacy group further their message or give honor to a U.S. ally.
Frustrated with the situation, Joseph Grano blasted out an email last week after the D.C. City Council officially recognized the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification. President of the Rhodes Tavern-DC Heritage Society, the Italian-American activist was upset that the ban prevented the House from doing the same.
Mr. Grano feels Italy deserves recognition because the country has been a NATO ally for decades, hosts numerous U.S. military bases and sent troops to Afghanistan after 9/11. And the White House, the Capitol and the Supreme Court all bear the influence of Italian architecture, he added.
He feels so strongly about the matter that he picketed outside the Capitol building last fall, he said.
“The House GOP leadership in its attempt to ban frivolous resolutions from coming to a vote has also frustrated attempts to introduce meaningful resolutions — a clear example of throwing out the baby with the bath water,” he said.
Despite the ban, some lawmakers have continued to introduce resolutions. Even though they aren’t voted on, they’re still added to the public record and lawmakers are occasionally allowed to tout them on the House floor.
That’s enough to satisfy most constituents back home said Amanda Fitzgerald, director of public policy for the American School Counselor Association (ASCA).
“Truthfully, if you tell the average person out there the House bill has a number but it didn’t pass, people don’t understand the intricacies of it, people say no, it doesn’t really matter,” she said. “The same purpose is going through with it.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- A familiar fading feeling for McMahon in Connecticut
- Romney’s bid to undo health law faces hurdles
- Hill GOP presses Medicare probe
- Romney, Obama advisors butt heads over binders, Big Bird and “Romnesia”
- Iran talks not set up, Obama’s camp says
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- Obama's brother wears Hamas scarf bearing anti-Israel slogans in photo
- Obama: 'Not a new Cold War,' but new Russia sanctions announced
- Smugglers, rainstorm combine to poke holes in border fence
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- PHILLIPS: Once-in-a-century stupidity
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- PRUDEN: When the hangman botches the job
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world