Green Room

A lesson in Washington campaign tactics

posted at 10:35 am on September 14, 2012 by

Of the four or five regular magazines and newspapers read on Capitol Hill every day, Politico is probably the least policy-focused, and the one that places the most value on entertainment and drama. However, sometimes that reporting focuses on the biggest drama in Washington – elections – and a new article on Politico’s website outlines an important yet subtle distinction between actions on Capitol Hill designed to do what’s actually good for the country and what’s good for the Member’s re-election campaign.

Here are a few examples highlighted by Politico:

Rep. Michael Grimm of New York is pushing a resolution of support for peace in Sri Lanka. And Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois has scored two legislative victories: one bill to rein in lavish, taxpayer-funded conferences and another that aims to help travelers by loosening restrictions on checked baggage….

Though Washington is staring down a number of critical policy issues this year — not least of which the so-called fiscal cliff — much of its agenda is consumed by hard-to-refuse bills that lawmakers can tout back home.

Most of the article continues like this, and those who follow the above link will notice it focuses on House Republicans. While this could be seen as media bias, the House is where more legislation is passed than in the Senate and where Republicans are clearly the dominant – and thus the more vulnerable – party. But the Senate plays this game as well:

The House isn’t alone in showcasing its vulnerable members. One of the main items on the Senate’s agenda this week is a bill aimed at helping veterans find jobs. That’s sponsored by Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, up for reelection against Republican Rep. Connie Mack in the perennial swing state of Florida this fall.

Now, to be fair, some of the bills Politico highlighted are good for the country. But passed this late in the session, with only a little over two legislative work weeks left before the November elections and the “fiscal cliff?” The passage of these bills is somewhat reminiscent of the infamous government agencies that buy a lot of material at the end of the government’s fiscal year, or the scientific centers that suddenly come out with grand theories on the world at the end of the fiscal year, both done in order to not lose funding in the next fiscal year.

Of course, cover is provided by the House leadership for these bills. However, note the section that has been bolded for this post:

A spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who runs the floor, said his office evaluates what bills to schedule based on their merits.

“It’s not unusual for there to be a larger number of bills considered before the end of the fiscal year or before the extended district work period preceding a lame duck,” Doug Heye, Cantor’s deputy chief of staff, wrote in an email.

In other words, when it’s really important to be noticed by the electorate, you can count on Members to take advantage.

One additional note: often Members introduce legislation that has no chance of passing, or is duplicative, just to impress constituents. One example of this is H.R. 787, the No Social Security for Illegal Immigrants Act of 2011. Despite the important-sounding name, the fact is that no Social Security is allowed to go to illegal immigrants, so this legislation is truly useless – or worse than useless, since staffers had to create it, print it, and introduce it, meaning it cost taxpayers some small measure of their tax dollars.

What do you think? Should Members of Congress be trying to pass bills that may possess some benefit for the country just for re-election purposes? Or could that be a violation of federal law, which states that Members are to explicitly keep election and official work separate? Let us know in the comments.

Dustin Siggins is the online content coordinator and blogger for Tea Party Patriots. Tea Party Patriots is a national grassroots coalition with more than 3,500 local chapters and more than 15 million supporters nationwide. This piece was originally published at the Tea Party Patriots blog.

Recently in the Green Room:

HotAir — Politics, Culture, Media, 2017, Breaking News from a conservative viewpoint
Top Pick

Rocking the boat majorly

Top Pick

Big government never contracts. It only grows more powerful

It’s only a “ban” until it becomes inconvenient

The decline and fall of Obamacare and the AHCA

Jazz Shaw Jun 24, 2017 8:31 AM

This was all over before it began

Fixing crime in America is a complicated issue

Taylor Millard Jun 23, 2017 8:31 PM

Cops alone won’t solve it.

Victim’s father was President Maduro’s supervisor back when he was a bus driver.

Democrats forgot all about the “era of good feelings”

“Bernie and Jane Sanders have lawyered up.”

“the Judiciary Committee is examining the circumstances surrounding the removal of James Comey.”

Winning isn’t everything. It is the only thing

Trump signs VA reform bill into law

John Sexton Jun 23, 2017 2:41 PM

“What happened was a national disgrace, and yet some of the employees involved in these scandals remained on the payrolls.”

A new era of something.

“…died suddenly in less than a week just after his return to the U.S.”

The shortsightedness of “Denounce and Preserve”

Taylor Millard Jun 23, 2017 12:11 PM

Pragmatism for the sake of pragmatism doesn’t always work.

Perhaps if you threw in a new car?

Gay marriages still growing, but not as fast

Andrew Malcolm Jun 23, 2017 10:31 AM

More, but not as quickly.

Should’ve stuck with the pirate gig. It was working for him

The battle for the rubble of Raqqa is underway

Andrew Malcolm Jun 23, 2017 8:51 AM

Won’t be much left.

Your list of demands is a publicity stunt

“what happened that day was emblematic of a deeply troubling trend among progressives…”

“The jobs are still leaving. Nothing has stopped.”

Bad vendor. Bad! No cookie!

“The Corps is just starting to grapple with the issues the court has identified.”

“So you want me to sing my praises, is that what you’re saying?”

Why would we possibly want that?

“I mean he sold our country to The Russians.”

I could think of someone else you might want to ask about…

“You can ask a hundred people what hate speech is and you get a thousand different answers”

Trump: I never made any recordings of Comey

Allahpundit Jun 22, 2017 2:01 PM


Hackers stole private data from election databases

John Sexton Jun 22, 2017 1:21 PM

“90,000 records stolen by Russian state actors contained drivers license numbers”

Failure to protect the city

Big man on the Middle Eastern campus

Biased Americans see media as biased.

Tough times down on the liberal ranch