More Merkley drama: the Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act

razzledazzle

Not one to miss a chance to put himself in the spotlight, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) grandly announced on July 11 that he led a group of 40 senators in introducing the Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act.

Merkley was in so much of a hurry to claim leadership on the bill that he has issued a press release, a section-by-section breakdown of the bill (S. 2113) and a one-pagesummary, but the bill hadn’t even been written.  According to Congress.gov, text had still not been received for S.2113 as of July 16, 2019.

Nevertheless, the bill has been referred to the Committee on the Judiciary Committee. Suffice it to say, however, the bill isn’t going anywhere.

One reason – not a single Republican has signed on as a cosponsor. In this, Merkley is continuing to earn his reputation as one of the Senate’s most partisan Members.

The Bipartisan Index measures the frequency with which a Member co-sponsors a bill introduced by the opposite party and the frequency with which a Member’s own bills attract co-sponsors from the opposite party. The Index reflects how well members of opposite parties and ideologies work together.

According to the Bipartisan Index of senators released by The Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, Merkley had the third most partisan track record in the entire Senate in the most recent analysis covering the 115th Congress (2017-2018)

That was even worse than Merkley did in the 113th Congress, when he was ranked the 7th most partisan senator.

Another reason Merkley’s migrants bill is already dead in the water — – how many Republicans does Merkley seriously think are going to support a bill demanding that the Administration “Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children”?

Then there’s the expansive scope of the bill.

The bill would create “non-negotiable standards” for the treatment of migrant children, including:

  • Ending family separations except when authorized by a state court or child welfare agency, or when Customs and Border Protection and an independent child welfare specialist agree that a child is a trafficking victim, is not the child of an accompanying adult, or is in danger of abuse or neglect;
  • Setting minimum health and safety standards for children and families in Border Patrol Stations.
    • Requiring access to hygiene products including toothbrushes, diapers, soap and showers, regular nutritious meals, and a prompt medical assessment by trained medical providers.
    • Requiring children receive three meals a day that meet USDA nutrition standards.
    • Ending for-profit contractors from operating new Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) standard shelters or influx facilities.
      • Ensuring that temporary influx facilities are state-licensed, meet Flores standards, and are not used to house children indefinitely.
      • Expanding alternatives to detention and the successful Family Case Management Program.
      • Lowering case manager caseloads, mandating lower staffing ratios, and ending the information sharing agreement between ORR and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
      • Ensuring unaccompanied children have access to legal counsel and continue to be placed in a non-adversarial setting for their initial asylum case review.

Additionally, the legislation would provide resources to non-profit centers that are helping to provide humanitarian assistance.

It all sounds all very high-minded, but it would be onerous. For example, at a time when shelter facilities are bursting at the seams, ending for-profit contractors from operating new Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) standard shelters or influx facilities would mean rapidly securing replacements.

Then there’s the bill’s cost. But you won’t find that in the hastily issued press release, the section-by section breakdown of the bill, the one-page summary or in a text of the bill itself. That’s because as of July 16, 2019, a Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate for the measure has not been received.

But Merkley and the 39 senators signing on as co-sponsors don’t really care. They know the bill is nothing more than an exercise in stage management, part of legislative theater.

As they sang in Chicago:

Razzle dazzle ’em
Give ’em a show that’s so splendiferous

Row after row will grow vociferous

Give ’em the old flim flam flummox
Fool and fracture ’em

How can they hear the truth above the roar?
_________________

S.2113 is sponsored by Sen. Merkley and co-sponsored by Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ),Chris Coons (D-DE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA), Angus King (I-ME), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sen. Merkley Says He’s Committed To Bipartisanship; His Record Says Otherwise

jeffmerkley

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is trying to portray himself to Oregonians as someone committed to bipartisanship, to working hand-in-hand with Republicans to advance the country’s interests.

“I believe that if you simply oppose the Administration because you’re of a different party, no one benefits, “ Merkley said in an interview with KGW-TV that ran Wednesday night. “I think of Gandhi’s expression when he said, ‘If all you believe in is an eye for an eye, the whole world goes blind.”

Not so fast, Senator. You can’t walk away from your record so easily with platitudes. The fact is your record shows you are one of the Senate’s MOST partisan members.

According to the Bipartisan Index of 98 senators released by The Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, Merkley had the fourth most partisan track record in the entire Senate in the most recent analysis covering the First Session of the 114th Congress in 2015.

That was even worse than Merkley did in the 113th Congress, when he was ranked the 7th most partisan senator.

The Index takes into account how well members of opposite parties and ideologies work together. The Bipartisan Index measures the frequency with which a Member co-sponsors a bill introduced by the opposite party and the frequency with which a Member’s own bills attract co-sponsors from the opposite party.

“We sought to develop an objective measure of how well members of opposite parties work with one another…,” former Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind) said.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) ranks as the most partisan on the list, followed by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif) and then Merkley.

Bills introduced by highly partisan senators without co-sponsors from the other party “are being written not to maximize their chances of passage, but to serve as legislative talking points.,” Lugar said.

 

 

 

Sen. Jeff Merkley: leading the way in partisanship

So much for working well across the aisle for the common good.

Jeff Merkley, D-OR, is one of the most partisan U.S. Senators, according to a just compiled Bipartisan Index that measures members of Congress. Of 100 Senators, Merkley ranked 93rd in bipartisanship.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR, a true blue partisan.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR, a true blue partisan.

A low score indicates that a legislator is viewing his or her duties through a partisan lens, rather than prioritizing problem solving and being open to working with the other party when possible, entertaining a wide range of ideas, and prioritizing governance over posturing.

The Lugar Center, a non-profit organization focusing on global policy issues, teamed up with the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University to develop a Bipartisan Index to measure members of Congress. The ranking of all senators, released for the first time on Tuesday, rates lawmakers by how their legislation does in attracting co-sponsors from the other party as well as how often they sponsor legislation proposed by members across the aisle.

“…sponsorship and co-sponsorship behavior is especially revealing of partisan tendencies,” said former Senator Richard G. Lugar, President of The Lugar Center. “Members’ voting decisions are often contextual and can be influenced by parliamentary circumstances. Sponsorships and co-sponsorships, in contrast, exist as very carefully considered declarations of where a legislator stands on an issue.”

Berkeley’s abysmal ranking in the Bipartisan Index suggests that he’s more interested in making political points than being an effective legislator. Partisan bills certainly have their place, but as Lugar said in his Introduction to the Bipartisan Index, “…at the beginning of the legislative process, when effective governance would argue for broadening a new bill’s appeal, too often the opposite is happening.  Bills are being written not to maximize their chances of passage, but to serve as legislative talking points.  Taking a position is not the same thing as governing.”