LAME DUCK SESSIONS

It is time to shorten the legs of the lame duck.

The purpose of the gap between election and assumption of power is to assure uninterrupted continuity of government and provide for a smooth transition of power. When one political party has enjoyed total control then is suddenly told by the voters that their power will be gone in two months it creates a sense of urgency. With that party still in control of the House, the Senate and the Presidency, a lot can be accomplished in two months.

An ambitious party of either persuasion will go into crisis mode. Good legislation requires time for debate, time for the public to become informed and respond. Crisis legislation allows for none of this. When major issues are involved, crisis legislation hardly allows time to write a good bill, let alone time to read it and understand all its various provisions. Crisis legislation is Pelosi legislation – pass the law now, worry about what’s in it later.

The length of time from election to assumption was set when travel was by horse and communication wasn’t much faster. Two months may have been reasonable then. But now with FedEx to transport the boxes and American Airlines the body, Senators and Senatresses could be on the job by 5pm the day after election. Why should the public have to wait? Okay, give them a break, make it two weeks.

The length of time that should prevail for lame duck sessions has been debated ever since John Adams was president. The 20th Constitutional Amendment (1933) was intended to put an end to the controversy. It did not. It still needs to be done.

One last thought, the boxing and travel expenses for our departing representatives move back to their homes should be paid fully by the government. It will reduce the incentive for taxpayers to fudge on their tax returns when they know the money is going for a worthy cause.

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