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Garbage overflows a trash can on the National Mall across from the White House during the 2018–19 Trump shutdown.

What Is Your Member of Congress Doing? They Claim To Be Very Busy!

When Nebraska’s Congressional delegation was recently asked if they were following the impeachment proceedings, their universal response was that they were simply too busy to keep track of them. Don Bacon claimed he was “attending committee hearings and meeting with visiting constituents.” Jeff Fortenberry made a similar claim: “It is important to note that there are other important things going on in Congress.” But what are they really doing? Are they doing the people’s business?

Last week, Ben Sasse tried to sound real scary when he warned the Director of the Bureau of Prisons to “come prepared” for a hearing over the death of serial sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein. At the subsequent hearing, Sasse berated Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer and alleged that it was “crazy” she couldn’t say very much due to ongoing investigations.

I would advise Sasse to steer clear of the entire Epstein controversy in light of his own record. Earlier this year, Sasse called for the sweetheart 2008 non-prosecution agreement with Epstein be “torn up.” This was the agreement that allowed Epstein to continue to commit crimes and prey on children. Sasse accurately described it as follows: “That deal essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe into whether there were more victims and other powerful people who took part in Epstein’s sex crimes.”

What Nebraska’s junior Senator didn’t tell you is that Alex Acosta was the prosecutor who negotiated this unconscionable deal. Sasse also failed to mention that he voted to confirm Alex Acosta as Labor Secretary. (Deb Fischer also voted to confirm Acosta.) Acosta was forced to resign from his cabinet post due to this controversial deal.

Sasse wasn’t the only Nebraska member of Congress who embarrassed himself. On November 19, Jeff Fortenberry, Don Bacon and Adrian Smith voted against a short-term funding bill aimed at averting a government shutdown before funds expired. Fortunately, the government funding resolution passed by a 231 to 192 margin.

After the House did its job, the Senate passed the government funding bill by a 74–20 margin on November 21 with overwhelming bi-partisan support. Unfortunately, Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse joined their Nebraska House colleagues in voting for another government shutdown.

What that means is that all five members of our Congressional delegation voted for a second government shutdown in less than a year. They still haven’t explained to their constituents why they voted for the 35 day Trump shutdown of 2018–19. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, that shutdown cost the American people $11 billion.

We’re not out of the woods yet on government funding. The resolution that was opposed by our entire Congressional delegation finances the government until December 20. The Senate and House leadership has put off the issue of funding the border wall in the current resolution. What that means is that Trump could shutdown the government again over the wall Mexico was supposed to pay for. Will our Congressional representatives support another Trump shutdown?

It’s evident that Fischer, Sasse, Fortenberry, Bacon and Smith can’t even do the basic job of a member of Congress which requires them to keep the lights on. And yet they all believe they deserve to be re-elected despite all of these years of failure.

If you want different results out of Washington, you have to elect different people. As British M.P. Leo Amery said in the debate that resulted in the replacement of Neville Chamberlain with Winston Churchill in 1940: “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.” Now let’s go out and win one for the people of Nebraska in 2020! Let’s leave it all out on the field! We can do it! Let’s get it done!

I’m a trial lawyer, a Democratic activist and a sports fan.

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