The lack of civility and decorum at the U.S. Capitol has reached a critical stage, a phenomenon which likely would have irked the nation’s Founding Fathers. “The First Congress established civility as a core value of American government,” the U.S. Archives notes in its section devoted to the matter, citing the Journal of the United States House of Representatives, April 6, 1789.
In decades past, lawmakers would stage civility retreats and vow to treat one another fairly, or at least give it a shot. There were chummy bipartisan projects and photo-ops. That hasn’t happened lately.
Etiquette mavens and assorted experts have previously pointed out that displays of hostility by lawmakers do not increase either the efficiency or efficacy of House or Senate — and also contribute to the image of the dreaded “do nothing Congress” in public opinion polls.
Currently, 65% of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job, according to Gallup’s latest poll on the subject, released in mid-May.
Meanwhile, the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress — established over a year ago to investigate ways to make Congress more productive and less dysfunctional — continues to discuss possible solutions. They include “promoting civility and bipartisanship,” according to the committee.
Are there rules in place against bad manners in Congress? Why, yes, there are. Here are a few verbatim, self-explanatory excerpts from the “Rules of debate and civility in the House,” as issued by the House Committee on Rules, of course.
“Avoid characterizing another Member’s personal intent or motives and discussing personalities. Refrain from speaking disrespectfully of the Speaker, other Members, the President or Vice President,” the rules state.
And from the extensive “Rules of the Senate” come these two requirements:
“No Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another Senator or to other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator. No Senator in debate shall refer offensively to any State of the Union.”
The rules are there. Inside the Beltway looks forward to the aforementioned committee’s recommendations.
GEORGE P. BUSH HAS A SAY
News reports claim former President George W. Bush will not vote to reelect President Trump. How about his nephew George Prescott Bush — son of Jeb Bush and the only member of the Bush family still in public office?
He’s a Trump guy.
“President Trump is the only thing standing between America and socialism. I endorsed President Trump in the 2016 election cycle and plan to do so again in 2020,” the younger Mr. Bush said in a statement to the Dallas Morning News and the Texas Tribune.
“It’s clear, Republican policies are working. Even in a global pandemic where we have had to take unprecedented measures to protect public health, the economy is already returning,” he said.
Mr. Bush, 44, is the grandson of President George H.W. Bush.
He is also a former public school teacher, an attorney, former U.S. Navy Reserve officer, real estate investor, married father of two and the commissioner of the Texas General Land Office, winning that influential office in 2014 after promising Texas voters, “I will bring my conservative values and my real-world experience with me.”
He has a fan in Mr. Trump, meanwhile. The president noted in April that George P. Bush was “the only Bush that likes me,” then thanked him for the endorsement in a tweet Wednesday, saying he was “honored.”
15 TONS; COAST GUARD AT THE READY
The U.S. Coast Guard revealed Wednesday that it has come into possession of 23,000 pounds of cocaine and 6,900 pounds of marijuana worth $408 million, The drugs were interdicted from suspected drug smuggling vessels in the eastern Pacific Ocean, off the coasts of Mexico, Central and South America, and in the Caribbean by four Coast Guard cutters and two Navy ships.
“The roughly 15 tons of illicit narcotics being offloaded here today and the likely ensuing prosecutions, are the results of extraordinary teamwork and intelligence-driven operations,” said Adm. Karl Schultz, commandant of the Coast Guard. “Our fellow citizens aren’t the only ones who benefit from these counter-narcotics efforts. Our Central American neighbors face tremendous strain from drug-fueled violence sparked by transnational criminal organizations. Efforts like this enhanced counter-drug operation significantly disrupt the criminal activity destabilizing the region.”
The American Federation of Teachers warns that reopening the nation’s schools with new COVID-19 health protocols has a huge price tag: $116.5 billion for instructional staff, distance learning, before- and after-school care, transportation, personal protective equipment, cleaning and health supplies, health staffing, custodial and cleaning staff, meeting children’s social and emotional needs and additional academic support for students. The average school will need an extra $1.2 million, or $2,300 per student, to open its doors,” the group noted in a study released Wednesday.
Funds are also needed “to offset revenue losses and address the cuts that have already cost local education systems 750,000 jobs.”
Somebody is on the very complicated case. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions continues to stage hearings titled “Returning to School Safely,” under the chairmanship of Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican.
POLL DU JOUR
• 23% of U.S. adults say the economy is now recovering from the downturn caused by coronavirus-related lockdowns; 40% of Republicans, 22% of independents and 12% of Democrats agree.
• 36% overall say economic recovery has not started yet, but conditions have stabilized; 42% of Republicans, 38% of independents and 31% of Democrats agree.
• 36% overall say the economy is still in a downturn and conditions will continue to worsen; 13% of Republicans, 38% of independents and 54% of Democrats agree.
• 4% overall are undecided; 5% of Republicans, 2% of independents and 2% of Democrats agree.
Source: A CNN/SSRS poll of 1,259 U.S. adults conducted June 2-5.
• Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.
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