Opinion

Make Congress Work Again

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Posted: May 18, 2018 4:06 PM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not represent the views of Townhall.com.
Make Congress Work Again

Editor's Note: This column was co-authored by Jenny Beth Martin.

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“I say to Congress: I will never sign another bill like this again.”

President Trump made this crystal clear following the massive, last-minute funding bill in March, and he is serious. However, Congress has not gotten the message.

Several weeks have passed since the president issued this warning, and Washington is still spiraling towards another 11th-hour spending battle. We can see it clear as day, but many career politicians cannot.

Action must be taken immediately to overcome the following obstacles.

First, obstruction. Senate Democrats are waging an historic campaign to keep Trump from getting his full team in place. It takes an average of 82 days for one of Trump’s nominees to be confirmed. At this rate, he will not have his full team in place before the end of his first term. There are more than 250 nominees waiting to be confirmed today.

Most of Trump’s nominees are ultimately confirmed with bipartisan support, so this is not about real controversy or debate. Democrats are doing this to create a backlog and waste time to keep the Senate from focusing on Trump’s agenda.

Second, time. Twelve funding bills are required to fund the federal government. Congress has not even passed one yet this year. The fiscal year ends on Sept. 30. The Senate has just 62 working days between now and then. There are just 37 working days if you exclude Mondays and Fridays, and that is the norm in Congress.

Time is running out. If Congress does not act now, the obstruction will continue and Washington will continue the cycle of continuing resolutions to keep the lights on, while a handful of politicians get in a room and decide how to spend another trillion dollars.

This should not happen, and we can make sure it doesn’t.

Congress should immediately begin considering one or several consolidated funding bills. Doing so now will allow funding to be amended and debated in the light of day. It will also give Congress plenty of time to get a bill to the president before the September deadline. A good start would be our national defense priorities since these are bipartisan.

It’s also time to speed up the confirmation process for Trump’s executive and judicial nominations. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., has a plan to shorten the 30-hour debate period on nominations to eight hours. We support that plan, but we also realize that the ultimate commodity for confirming nominees and funding the government is time.

The U.S. Senate also needs to work smarter — including nights, weekends, and throughout scheduled recess periods to get the job done.

In 2017, 10 Republican Senators came together to call for canceling the August recess, and leadership agreed. Ultimately, 77 of President Trump’s nominees were confirmed in four days — almost twice what had been confirmed all year up to that point.

This year, we are continuing that push, and our message is simple: It is time to make Congress work again.

Congress must do whatever is required to fund the federal government before the August break. If necessary, it should work nights, weekends, and through the August recess to break through gridlock, confirm Trump’s team, and start funding the government.

President Trump should never again face a binary choice of shutting down the government or signing a bad funding deal at the last possible minute.

President Trump was elected to change the direction of our country and make America great again, and for the last year he has moved with a sense of urgency to get that done. Congress must finally work together to do the same.

This column was originally published in The Washington Examiner.

Sen. David Perdue, a Republican, is the junior senator from Georgia and the only Fortune 500 CEO in Congress. Jenny Beth Martin is honorary chairman of Tea Party Patriots Action.