Reprinted from the Dubuque Telegraph Herald Jan. 18
The farther we get from his 2016 election victory and his inauguration a year ago, the less we hear President Trump discussing his oft-repeated campaign promise to “drain the swamp.”The original use of “drain the swamp” referred to the practice of draining low-lying wetlands to curb breeding areas for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The political reference to “drain the swamp” is to get rid of the environment that permits bad government — including waste, fraud, mismanagement and conflicts of interest.
Before and since he won election to the U.S. House, Dubuque Republican Rod Blum has included “drain-the-swamp” planks in his campaign platform. With Congress’ approval ratings at or near record lows, it’s a stance that tends to resonate with voters, even if Blum’s colleagues are loathe to get on board.
Nonetheless, the congressman representing Northeast Iowa continued that initiative last month, introducing another batch of “drain-the-swamp” proposals. It’s probably best if you read about them here, because it is unlikely you will see Congress pass them and President Trump make them law.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act. H.R. 4512 would cut federal lawmakers’ pay each year the federal budget is not balanced. Introduced last Dec. 1, it has zero co-sponsors.
The No Golden Parachutes for Public Service Act. H.R. 4511 would ban former lawmakers from lobbying current congressional members, officers or employees. Zero co-sponsors.
The No Congressional Vehicle Leases Act. H.R. 4510 states taxpayer dollars may not be used to lease vehicles for more than 30 days. This one could be labeled a bipartisan measure, since its only co-sponsor is a Democrat, Rep. Tom O’Halleran of Arizona.
The Blum proposal garnering the most support among his colleagues is the No Congressional First Class Flights Act. H.R. 4509 mandates that upgrades to first-class airline seats will not come from taxpayers’ pockets. Three other representatives, all Republicans, have joined in as co-sponsors.
These four pieces of legislation make sense — so much so we’re more likely to see Blum walk on top of the swamp than see the swamp drained through passage of these measures. But it’s worth calling public attention to these issues.
And while we’re thinking about how Congress conducts itself, let’s not stop there. Perhaps it’s also time to take another look at the self-promoting mailings lawmakers (including Blum) send out at taxpayer expense, the prevalent practice of not paying the interns in their offices and the long and excessive recesses lawmakers schedule for themselves.
The swamp is deep. Unfortunately, noting the tepid response to Blum’s proposals, it is likely to remain so for some time to come.