Getting Politics Out of It

Editor, News-Register:

Ever wonder how congressmen and senators get their committee assignments? You know of course, that some committees are more powerful and influential than others.

Well I wondered, and decided to do a little research to see what the rules and guidelines were to determine committee assignments. I can find no reference in the Constitution mentioning committees. It seems the founding fathers did not take into consideration that there would be a need for committees.

As near as I can tell, committees were formed due to the need to research and make recommendations on needed legislation. This didn’t come about until well after our system of government was created. It seems that there are no hard and fast rules (written), that set forth how committee assignments are made by either party; at least none that I’ve come across. It seems somewhat secretive.

What I’ve learned is that party leaders (I assume speakers of the House and Senate) determine committee assignments.

Assignments are rumored to be awarded to members based on their fundraising ability and the amount of funds they provide to the party, and how they vote and/or support various pieces of legislation that comes up for a vote. If you don’t raise a lot of monies for the party, and/or don’t kowtow to the party leadership; then your committee assignments are less than glamorous.

Further research revealed a story in “The Daily Independent” a newspaper published in Ashland, Kentucky on April 4, 2016. You can view that story by going to https://www,dailyindependent.com/news/congressman-says-washington-committee-seat s-come-at-a-price/article. The story is entitled “Congressman says Washington committee seats come at a price.” In that story U.S. Congressman Thomas Massie says he is “extorted” by the Republican Party to pay $300,000 for his committee assignments.

The congressman stated in that story that “it’s not just the Republican Party — Democrats are also expected to pay to be on certain committees, too, and the price tag steepens based on the power of both the committee and the seat. Powerful committee chairmanships can cost millions of dollars.” Congressman Massie says “I’ve paid them zero” but receives an overdue notice with a footnote reading, “Note: price is subject to change based on your leadership positions.”

My conclusion is it’s all about control. Newly arrived representatives to both the Senate and the House quickly become aware of the stranglehold a few powerful individuals have on committee assignments, party funds and legislation that reaches the floor.

We the people have no way to change this entrenched way of doing business! Except perhaps by establishing term limits on both the Senate and the House. I encourage everyone that reads this letter to pass it along to their email list, visit www.conventionofstates.org, and contact your state representatives about passing a resolution supporting a Convention of States to recommend amendment under Article V of the U. S. Constitution entitled “curtailing the power of the federal government” by way of enacting term limits.

Perhaps it’s time to do away with political parties, although I’ve been advised that it is unrealistic since the political parties are private “clubs” that do not rely on government to exist. Candidates for office should be judged solely on their ideas, ideals, and vision for the furtherance of our great nation. Committee assignments should be by the luck of the draw to prevent party elites from exercising a hold over their members.

Hope springs eternal!

J. Jacobs

Wheeling

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