By Toby Spitz, published in the Southampton Press (April 12th edition):
House Republicans headed back for Easter recess without much to brag about.
As January ushered in a new Congress, one controlled by the GOP, the common refrain, voiced as well by our self-proclaimed GOP leaders, Lee Zeldin and Peter King, was the promise of effective governing that would also emphasize the leadership promised by Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump promised “tremendous” healthcare “everyone would be proud of.” Instead, our congressmen return home having to explain why the best they could do was to float a plan that left more people uninsured and paying more for less protection. Everyone was not proud; a measly 17% favored the proposed plan. In a high-profile embarrassment for House leaders and the Trump administration, the proposal was never even voted on.
Relying on a little-known law, the GOP-led Congress rescinded a number of Obama-era regulations. But some of these actions were ill-conceived and have provoked hostile reactions of voters. One move was the repeal of regulations restricting coal mining businesses from dumping toxic coal waste products into streams and other waterways. Mr. Zeldin favored this move.
In the most high-profile example, Mr. Trump signed into law a measure approved by the House and Senate that repealed an Obama regulation that prevented telecom and cable companies from sharing or selling their customers’ personal information without first obtaining permission. Mr. King voted for the measure and Mr. Zeldin was silent as he opposed it. So much for leadership. The new law has spawned fierce resistance; a recent poll found that 83 percent of Americans disapproved of the change.
Despite control of all three branches of government, the GOP has no major legislative accomplishment to show for their efforts in the first quarter of 2017.
One New York GOP Congressman summed up the situation honestly: “Our supporters aren’t happy.” Neither are the rest of us in Congressional Districts 1 and 2.