Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk - A weekly Column
March 30, 1998
Methods employed by Congress as bad as the legislation
Major bills pass with no recorded vote to protect the perpetrators

Often, the methods by which Congress operates is as bad as the legislation it passes. Take, for example, last week, when the $14 billion Foreign Affairs appropriations bill was unfortunately passed without a recorded vote. This legislation was the result of work by a conference committee of congressmen and senators to resolve the difference between legislation passed by the two Houses of Congress.

For weeks arms have been twisted on Capitol Hill because the votes simply were not available to pass the legislation: there was plenty to offend everyone, but especially those of us concerned about the Constitution, national sovereignty and the dignity of life.

With very little warning, however, the legislation came up on the House floor, and the measure was allowed to pass on a "voice vote," without a record of who supported or opposed it. This surprised some of us who wanted to be on-record against this monstrosity, and it pleased many who preferred not to be recorded on this crucial issue. There were many in Congress - and in Washington - who wanted this measure passed into law, but did not want to be held accountable, on the record, for actually supporting it when the extent of damage it causes is later revealed.

What was in the legislation? It contained nearly a billion dollars for the controversial "back-dues" which the United Nations claims we owe them, and which many of us believe is false. Further, it forgave the very real debt the UN owes our nation for the subsidization of various UN military actions around the world.

Further, it was argued by some conservative "right-to-life" advocates that the legislation was worth passing - despite so many flaws and shortcomings - because it contained anti-abortion language purported to be "stronger than ever" and would finally be codified. Unfortunately, the reality is that the meager "abortion" language was weaker than ever before with a convenient, gaping loophole to allow the president to continue taxpayer-funding of countries and groups that actually perform and promote abortion: this is language which is now to be codified. That's no pro-life victory; in fact, one could barely describe it as a compromise.

The way Washington works is as if everything is merely a game; a game of who has power, and a game of once one posses any degree of power to hold on it by trying to fool as many people as possible. And the passage of this legislation is only one more move in this "game." Sadly, sincere groups were willingly played like a fiddle, in the hopes that by supporting what is actually very bad legislation, they would have the honor of being "Washington insiders." But it is that very "insider" status which breeds the distrust of the American people, who have to foot the bill for this dangerous game. And it is a process which unfortunately only adds to the cynicism many Americans already hold for the US Congress.

The events surrounding the passage of the Foreign Affairs appropriations should not make any of in Congress proud, for it certainly shames America. The process, as well as the legislation, stinks.