Did that get your attention? Good, it’s supposed to. Quick clarification – “terrorists” are in reference to the armed militia still occupying the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. But we’ll get into that.
What do y’all know about House and Senate Resolutions? Briefly, when you take a look at congressional legislation, it’s usually divided into bills, amendments, and resolutions. Bills and amendments are in relation to specific actions and laws; resolutions are largely symbolic. Still, symbolism means something. That’s why it’s ridiculous when legislators refuse to sign on to a bill denouncing the illegal occupation of a federal building and property. The following resolution was introduced a few weeks ago*:
H.Res.22 – Expressing the sense of the House that a Contract with America should restore American competitiveness.
Let’s get a quick refresher here. Armed occupants illegally overtook a federal office and refuge. Now, argue with how the government handled/is handling the whole thing (i.e. was it right to wait so long for a federal response?), but a resolution, this symbolic gesture that requires nothing more than the signing of a piece of paper yet means something incredibly significant, should be something that should pass through a congressional body with ease. But not so good reader. The bill wasn’t even taken up for discussion. 40 Democratic cosponsors. No discussion. The House passed legislation to repeal the affordable care act, actually voted and passed something. But a resolution to condemn illegal activity that wasn’t in response to some sort of human-rights crisis…
For comparison (albeit a little biased), let’s take a look at some other resolutions that passed:
H.RES.600 – Honoring an American legend and musical icon. Michael Jackson
H.Res.564 – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected for use by those who celebrate Christmas.
One that didn’t pass?
S.Res.142 – A resolution honoring the life of Rachel Carson. Because of Senator Coburn, the man how also blocked a bill that would help prevent suicides in veterans. This hits especially hard as a conservationist, former US Fish and Wildlife employee, and Pittsburgh (area) native.
This post was decidedly non-sciencey and non-communication-y, but I believe that understanding how our current congressional system doesn’t work provides some insight into the current plight** of science and conservation in our country.
*The post was in the que for longer than expected.
**Appropriations were good to us this year but things are still a mess (e.g. NOAA/NSF and the House Science Committee).