Anybody in Congress can write a bill.
That, in itself, isn’t much of an accomplishment. The real test is whether you can get your bill passed. Jeff Merkley, after 6 years in the Senate, doesn’t seem to understand that.
In an effort to portray himself as an accomplished legislator, Merkley has a TV ad out asserting, “….I wrote a bill to make China play fair on trade.” The problem is Merkley’s bills never passed.
When I served in Washington, D.C. as staff on a subcommittee of the House of Representatives, I worked with the Legislative Counsel’s office to draft dozens of bills at the request of the subcommittee chairman and ranking minority member. That’s the easy part. The tough part is getting something through the entire legislative process in the Senate and House and signed into law. That is the grueling work, depending on persistence, personal relationships, hard work and knowledge of the legislative process.
As a newspaper reporter after leaving Washington, I argued on numerous occasions against writing up lengthy stories on bills submitted by Oregon’s members of Congress just because they’d been put in the hopper. It’s a too common tactic by legislators to garner media coverage on a topic without actually having to do anything substantive.
The public is too often fooled by this tactic because they either don’t understand the legislative process or don’t assiduously follow the progress, or lack thereof, of proposed legislation.
Merkley’s clearly trying to pull a fast one. The ad should come down.