Congress: More vote, less talk

By Baker City Herald Editorial Board October 09, 2013 08:29 am

Congress is arguing about Obamacare.

And as a result the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center is closed.

Puzzled?

We are too.

So far as we can tell, about 95 percent of the things the federal government does, and probably a similar percentage of our money that it spends, is not terribly controversial in Congress.

Certainly there is no argument about whether the BLM should continue to run the Interpretive Center, one of Baker County’s more popular visitor attractions since it opened in May 1992.

Frankly we doubt any legislator other than Greg Walden, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley could tell you where the place is.

We use the Interpretive Center as an example  because, although it is a federal facility, it would not exist were it not for a cadre of selfless volunteers from Baker County who decided more than a quarter century ago that the local economy could benefit were we to emphasize our proximity to the Oregon Trail.

Trouble is, Congress in effect holds the keys to the Interpretive Center’s doors.

We’re not so naive, of course, to be surprised that debates in Washington, D.C., leave collateral damage, that places such as the Interpretive Center (and the Grand Canyon, and Yosemite ...) are innocent pawns in the game of partisan brinksmanship.

Americans aren’t that naive, either.

What they are, mainly, is mad.

We are, in our tens of millions, incensed that the people we elected to represent us are incapable of confining their argument to its actual terms.

We recognize how ridiculous it is that Congress will not simply take a vote on keeping the federal government running as normal, except for Obamacare.

Then lawmakers can take up Obamacare as a lone, separate matter.

This, after all, is how our republic is supposed to operate.

We elect representatives and senators. They draft bills and then vote on them. In theory, government activities which have a majority of support — things like opening the Interpretive Center and letting people drive into Yosemite Valley — happen.

Instead what we get are lawmakers going on TV and whining about how they’re willing to compromise but the other side isn’t.

Put simply, Congress is failing us.

Lawmakers aren’t doing their jobs.

The federal government is a complex entity, to be sure — nothing so gargantuan could be anything but complicated.

But that’s no excuse for legislators.

Write a budget bill, minus Obamacare, then vote on it.

Then write a separate Obamacare bill, and vote on it.

We’d rather tally lawmakers’ votes than continue to listen to their inane platitudes.