GOP Congress: Six Months of Progress on the People’s Priorities

The rise of the 24-hour news cycle has led to an odd twist: We have more news to consume than ever and yet we probably know less about what is actually happening in Washington than ever. The pundit class tends to zero in on one particularly juicy storyline, analyze it from every angle possible, and then move on to the next topic du jour.

Sometimes that model works, as when all eyes and resources turned to digging into the questionable relationship between foreign regimes and the Clinton Foundation. In that case we got stories that probably would have never been discovered, much less reported, without the full weight of the media behind it. But other times the 24-hour news model absolutely breaks down. Take, for instance, when we spent a full two days examining the details of Hillary Clinton’s decision to eat a burrito bowl at Chipotle.

But even at its best this approach has a severe structural flaw: It leaves a lot of news unreported. While the news was hanging on Hillary Clinton’s every word, did you know that Congress passed a bill to help veterans have better access to mental health care resources, especially for post traumatic stress disorder? Likely not, because the bill, sponsored by Sen. John McCain, passed unanimously with little to no opposition and without even a whiff of scandal, two ingredients that appear to be requirements of news coverage.

An even more egregious example happened earlier this year with a bill to help victims of human trafficking and provide additional resources to law-enforcement to target sex traffickers. The contents of the bill, which are historic, got no press. None. Instead, the media focused on the political snafu over whether or not the Hyde Amendment, which is included in every appropriations bill and was tangential to the substance of this legislation, would be included. Nobody knew what was in the bill, or the huge progress that was set to be made against one of the most horrendous crimes that a person can commit, they only knew that Democrats decided to raise a political stink about abortion because that’s all the news would report.

The list could go on and on. For instance, did you know that Congress has sent the following items to the president’s desk:

  • The first 10-year balanced budget plan since 2001
  • The first real entitlement reform in newly two decades, which will help make Medicare more sustainable over the long-term
  • A bill to ensure Congressional oversight over any nuclear arrangement the White House reaches with Iran.
  • Legislation to give Medicare patients and their doctors more certainty by permanently solving the so-called “doc fix,” which plagued Congress every year
  • New reforms to allow retired police officers to use their retirement benefits at an earlier age and allow families of fallen officers access to their full compensation
  • An initiative to improve energy efficiency
  • A bill to allow veterans to allow veterans access to private health care close to their homes

Of course, that doesn’t include the important legislation that has passed the House and is awaiting action in the more deliberative Senate. Those measures includes things like bills to increase VA accountability, repeal of the death tax, expand and make permanent tax relief for small business and research and development, expand 529 college savings plans, make it easier for families to secure affordable housing, and build the Keystone pipeline.

In just the first six months of a Republican Congress real progress is being made to address the people’s priorities, the issues that voters sent Republicans to Washington to work on. The House continues to pass commonsense legislation at a fast clip and the Senate, once a graveyard for any bill that Harry Reid didn’t like, is functioning again under Sen. McConnell.

“Look, American families and small businesses are still struggling,” Speaker Boehner said recently. “Many are still asking the question, where are the jobs? Some Americans are doing better, and frankly that’s great news. But most middle-class families aren’t seeing the improvement in their daily lives, so we’ve got a lot more work to do.”

“That said, we’re finding common ground and getting things done for the American people. That’s progress.”

Now, if only we could get the media to report on it.