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The culture of transparency in the federal government
Transparency is a culture that seems to be missing in the federal government and perhaps in some state governments. Before discussing this philosophy we need to understand the definition of what this word really means. The definition according to Merriam-Webster is being honest and open not secretive. It is quite evident that philosophy is missing in the executive branch but recent activity shows it is also missing in the halls of Congress. Congress is the representatives of the people and the people have a right to know what Congress is doing with legislation that is being presented for discussions and votes. When secret discussions are held for normal legislation if gives the impression that the content is something which is not totally beneficial to our country. To top it off Senators were instructed to not take notes or talk about the content of the legislation being considered during the discussion. Again I understand the need for sensitive information in some legislation to not be open to the public but the content of normal legislation should not be kept from the public. Those who read this article should contact their elected officials and demand that this proposal be properly evaluated and to reject it if it is not in the best interest of the country which this appears to be based on available information.
Recently there was a closed door meeting in the Senate to discuss a piece of legislation and it was not about any security piece of legislation which would be understandable. Information has further surfaced through reports that it is not just about a trade agreement which is being discussed but contains subjects for which Congress has the constitutional authority to decide. Statements have been made that nothing is finalized with respect to this legislation but the fact that details are being hidden from the public raises many questions. It has been mentioned through some interviews that subjects having nothing to do with trade are embedded in the legislation being considered. In addition there is a move to fast track legislation through Congress. Pressure is being placed on senators and representatives to accept /support the legislation. In some cases this pressure can be considered to be strong arm actions. This kind of activity does not belong in the halls of Congress.
Legislative decisions on any legislation and especially some which are deemed to be critical must not be rushed in making decisions. In some cases the mindset appears to be to pass legislation and fix problems after it is passed. The time to get any legislation right is from the start not after. Issues have a way of being ignored as evidenced by some past legislative actions once they are accepted by Congress. There appears to be issues with this current legislation which is being promoted as a trade or partnership agreement. Senators and representatives should not be pressured to accepting legislation which is not right for the country. Our elected officials in Congress need to stand up for the people they represent and say no to this legislation unless the issues or concerns are properly addressed.
Another aspect of the legislation if true should be the critical portion which should cause this proposal to be firmly rejected. It has been stated that this proposal involves creating trans-pacific union of sorts for which each country gets one vote. Reports have indicated whether they are true or not is that this legislation involves creating Trans Pacific trade agreement for which each country has one vote and decisions made must be honored by all parties in the agreement. Countries can made decisions about such things as global warming and immigration and if the majority accepts changes submitted each country is bound to accept the change.
We are a great country and we should never place ourselves in a position where other countries can dictate actions to be initiated without going through Congress as the Constitution identifies. Our country has three separate branches each one equal to the other in terms of responsibility. It is what has been labeled as a check and balance type of responsibility. Granted this philosophy seems to be dormant with respect to some executive decisions being made in the past but Congress needs to take the responsibility given it by the Constitution and exercise their responsibility with respect to the present legislative proposal being considered.
Regardless of the content of any such activity for which the President has the authority to negotiate it is the constitutional right of Congress to be actively involved is accepting any agreement made by the President regardless of the party. The President does have the authority to negotiate trade agreements but Congress should be involved with finalizing the acceptance and making changes or additions to agreements. From what is being presented in some reports the proposal is asking for Congress to remove itself from making changes for which they would only be allowed to have an up or down vote. If this aspect is accepted Congress would be circumventing their constitutional responsibilities and their responsibilities to those they represent. Another disturbing aspect surfaced recently that it takes Congress out of the process of exercising the constitutional authority. It is important that we have trade agreements but we as a country should never place our country in a position where other countries can dictate what we should do regarding any issue facing the world economy.
Some information which has surfaced has indicated that this legislation which is on a fast track for voting involves not only trade but immigration and global warming. Immigration requirements are the responsibility of Congress according to our Constitution and there is no foreign country has the legal right to determine our immigration policy. With respect to global warming this legislation according to what has been reported. It again is understandable if discussions are about negotiations or security issues but at some point especially with regards to negotiating treaties that the public be informed of the details.