Michael Cloud

Michael Cloud

It was a stormy July evening in 1776. The future of the United States depended upon a heroic 18-hour, 80-mile overnight horseback ride.

The Continental Congress was at an impasse. The vote for independence was deadlocked with two delegates from Delaware at odds. The passing of the “unanimous Declaration” relied on a favorable vote by the third delegate from Delaware, Caesar Rodney, who rode through the night, arriving at Independence Hall just in time to cast the deciding vote.

Rodney had every reason not to take the long journey to Philadelphia. He had returned home to lead the Delaware militia against a Loyalist revolt. He was not in great health and signing this Declaration of Independence against the most powerful empire on Earth was essentially signing his own death warrant. But Rodney made the journey because he believed in the cause and his duty to represent the people of Delaware.

Our history is replete with such acts of courage giving us a heritage and lending identity to the very essence of what it means to be an American. Unfortunately, such acts seem to be in short supply in the current halls of Congress where convenience, political expediency and self-preservation too often rule the day.

This is certainly true as Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the House back to Washington last week for only the third time since March 14. While all the buzz is about the liberal policy wish list packed like a $3 trillion pint of ice cream – shamelessly named the “Heroes Act” – do not be deceived by those 31 flavors. They are not why Congress is back in town.

Pelosi’s true purpose is a sleight-of-hand power grab called proxy voting. Under this proposal, one member could cast votes on behalf of up to 10 others, disregarding the Constitutional requirement for a quorum. This means she could pass her next $3 trillion giveaway (or worse) with just 20 representatives present in Washington out of the 435 total.

So the pandemic makes it necessary for Congress to return to Washington to vote to make future returns to Washington to vote unnecessary? The irony would not escape Rodney and his tyranny-fighting brothers in Philadelphia would be appalled.

Across the nation, Americans are making the sacrifices that officials have requested. Health care providers serve on the front lines battling COVID-19. Truck drivers and grocery store workers are showing up to do their jobs. Our country couldn’t operate without them. So why isn’t the House in Washington operating as the founding fathers intended?

To be clear, this proxy voting scheme would mark a historic change away from the way the House was designed to conduct the people’s business. representatives from around the country are supposed to assemble in the Capitol to study ideas, debate and amend legislation, and vote. Much of this responsibility has already been stripped away over the past two months. A handful of congressional leaders and unelected executive branch officials have been negotiating mammoth take-it-or-leave-it bills. Now the speaker is coming for our vote.

Each elected representative has a constitutional obligation to represent our constituents and honor the public trust we have been given. In a republic, we should not run away from this responsibility, especially in adversity. Our government is in place in order to protect our liberty – not make life easier for politicians.

We’ve all had to make accommodations, and Congress has had to do things differently as well. However, any change to voting, the most fundamental operation of the House and an extension of your voice, should only be done in a serious, thoughtful and bipartisan way. If it truly is intended for only the most urgent circumstances, then it should be done with overwhelming agreement in the House.

This will go down as one of the most significant power grabs in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives. Simply put, it’s a failure of leadership disguised as a necessary answer to adversity.

Washington is broken. The people’s voice is being silenced as power is coalesced around a handful of elite career politicians. Some in Congress are content to abdicate their constitutional responsibility for convenience. I, for one, will continue to do my best to keep meeting with people across our district, seek their feedback on what’s working and not working for them, and go to Washington to represent their interests.

Our nation has been through challenges before. We can make it through this one, and leave it a safer, stronger and better place for our children (without trampling on the Constitution).

In 1934, Congress placed a statue of Rodney in the U.S. Capitol to honor his commitment to liberty. When Members pass by it before we cast our votes, may we be reminded of his example. He so cherished liberty that he rode a horse through the night in a storm to pledge his life, fortune and sacred honor to defend it. The least we can do is get on an airplane.

Michael Cloud represents the 27th District of Texas in Congress. Cloud lives in Victoria with his wife, Rosel, and their three children.

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(7) comments

Rick Dockery

They should just let us print our money.

Glen or Janice Ullman

Although I did not vote for you, being a citizen in your district I would request that you work with Speaker Pelosi, listen to the general consensus of all of the professionals regarding the virus, and remind yourself and others, that the President was impeached for good reason by the majority of the people’s representatives.

Mike Gomez

Liberal policy wish list? The representative needs to read the bill and let his constituents know what provisions he is against without using partisan sound bites....I read it. It could use a little work because it doesn’t include any money for international assistance. We are in this together. Anyway here’s a summary of the bill

“ Introduced in House (05/12/2020)

Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act or the HEROES Act

This bill responds to the COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) outbreak and its impact on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses.

Among other things, the bill

provides FY2020 emergency supplemental appropriations to federal agencies;

provides payments and other assistance to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments;

provides additional direct payments of up to $1,200 per individual;

expands paid sick days, family and medical leave, unemployment compensation, nutrition and food assistance programs, housing assistance, and payments to farmers;

modifies and expands the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides loans and grants to small businesses and nonprofit organizations;

establishes a fund to award grants for employers to provide pandemic premium pay for essential workers;

expands several tax credits and deductions;

provides funding and establishes requirements for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing;

eliminates cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatments;

extends and expands the moratorium on certain evictions and foreclosures; and

requires employers to develop and implement infectious disease exposure control plans.

The bill also modifies or expands a wide range of other programs and policies, including those regarding

Medicare and Medicaid,

health insurance,

broadband service,

medical product supplies,

immigration,

student loans and financial aid,

the federal workforce,

prisons,

veterans benefits,

consumer protection requirements,

the U.S. Postal Service,

federal elections,

aviation and railroad workers, and

pension and retirement plans.

Steve Fiedler

Work with pelosi? She is morbidly............

Glenn Wilson

Steve -- Yes, work with Pelosi. That doesn't mean submit to her and everything she's working for, but rather to make governance a joint and (dare I say it?) cooperative effort. That's how things get done. If we could combine that with recognizing the President as President, not as Donald Trump, Joe Biden or whoever, and cut the personal drama we would be able to have a functioning government again. Dream on.

Steve Fiedler

Cut the personal drama agreed. But we can flip this too.....pelosi work with the senate, even house minority and the president

Mike Gomez

Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi are merely office holders of their respective positions .They would be the bogeyman to the opposition, regardless.

There is a difference between compromise and capitulation. It’s about the art of negotiation. For example, with the current make up of the House,the speaker will always have the upper hand,it up to the minority party to offer amendments or try to get as much as possible. It works the same way in the Senate. It’s when legislation comes back for reconciliation, where we see compromise. K

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