A Trifecta that Will Revolutionize Congress
Washington D.C.—Congressman Tom Marino (PA-10) reintroduced two pieces of legislation designed to fundamentally change the way Congress operates and joined forces on a third with Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA) to alter an internal rule dictating how proposed legislation makes its way to the House floor for debate and votes.
An amendment to the United States Constitution capping the amount of consecutive terms a representative or senator can serve in either chamber is nothing new to Congressman Marino’s agenda. This legislation (H.J. Res. 39) is part of his plan to freshen-up congressional business and restore public trust in the branch’s ability to legislate and govern. His proposal: six, two-year terms in the House of Representatives and two, six-year terms in the United States Senate.
“Too few have had power for too long. I always say 12 years and you’re out. If any elected official cannot learn the systems of either chamber and accomplish meaningful change on behalf of their constituents and the American people, then they ought to step aside and let a fresh face lead the way. I have great friendships and working relationships with many of my colleagues here in D.C. but a common thread among many of them is they have been here too long and not enough has changed for the better; it has gotten worse,” Marino said.
“Term limits should be to politicians what contract expirations are to athletes; work hard, prove your worth, get motivated, make a real and lasting change – or someone else will. Period. I really think this is something the American people, of every political persuasion can agree on,” he continued.
At the same time, Rep. Marino introduced another one of his favorite bills (H.J. Res. 40), dubbed “one subject at a time.” The name is self-explanatory; Congress should debate and vote on single issue bills.
“First of all, the people need to see exactly how and what their representatives are voting on; and in a format that is simple, easy to read and in plain English, not ‘legalese’. Congress has gotten in the habit of passing massive bills, containing multiple subjects, often with provisions not germane to the title or intent. If that is confusing to the American people, I guarantee it is confusing to many of my colleagues too. Single subject bills will increase transparency and lessen partisanship” said Marino.
“We have got to get back to debating, thoroughly, the merits of each bill as a stand-alone piece of legislation. Amendments need to be proposed and debated, from both parties, and then it needs to be voted upon; up or down. If it fails, the sponsors should go back and try again. If it passes, the Senate should take it up as is, and in an expedient manner,” Marino continued.
Marino’s efforts don’t end there. In previous Congresses he advocated for a rule change in House procedures to disallow a party’s leadership from preventing debate and votes on legislation that was passed out of a committee. Many of his colleagues took notice, including Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA), who took the idea one step further and proposed a resolution titled, “Amending the Rules of the House of Representatives to provide for the consideration of reported bills or joint resolutions that have not been considered by the House within 60 calendar days.”
Marino said, “It is important people understand and know that good legislation can make it through a committee but never see action on the floor. From mine and Congressman Peters’ standpoint, that is not ok. The House is a historically deliberative and active body where concrete ideas are proposed, debated and eventually voted upon. I applaud Congressman Peters on his effort to garner support for this rule change that requires the House to take up bills or joint resolutions which have passed their respective committee(s) of jurisdiction within 60 days. That is more than reasonable. I plan to work with him to gain more support among our colleagues so we can move ideas to the floor instead of allowing party leadership more discretion about what sees action.”
The components of Marino’s trifecta are not necessarily new when proposed solitarily; many of his colleagues, past and present, have championed similar ideas. But Marino sees this trifecta as the solution to addressing the fundamental disconnect between Washington and the American people.
“I call these three proposals my hedgehogs. I base the idea from a Greek poet who told a story of a fox and a hedgehog. Many authors have expanded on the theory since but the core message rang true to me when I thought about ways to really fix some fundamental things about the way Congress conducts itself. The story is basic; the fox focuses on many maneuvers and sometimes ignores achieving the real goal. The hedgehog is different. It knows the big picture and focuses intently on doing some core things really well in order to achieve its goal. That is how I think about this trifecta. It is basic, focused and intent on fixing what’s really broken in D.C.,” Marino concluded.