How can this Congress be the worst ever, when it is the first in recent times to actually address the United States' looming debt and step in to assert its legitimate authority? Throughout this budget process, Congress has demonstrated sincerity in its duty, and Sunday, July 31's, debt ceiling deal puts the country on the path to ending the crisis.
On Jan. 6, when the 112th House of Representatives convened, the first order of business was to read the U.S. Constitution aloud. One might think this would be routine each session, as all 435 elected representatives are asked to take an oath to "support and defend" it. Yet surprisingly, this was the first time that the House had members read the Constitution in full.
As dictated by the Constitution, Congress's most important power is the power of the purse. Article 1 states, "No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law." This authority allows Congress not only the ability to tax, as well as sell government goods, properties, and services, but also to borrow on the credit of the United States. Congress, therefore, is responsible for the debt that the United States incurs.
This control is not only Congress's right, but a central duty. If Congress allows expenditures to grow unchecked, it has failed in its authority. This is crucial in the system as it allows a check to the president's budget, limiting spending by the executive branch. Constitutionally, the president may get to write the budget, but it is within Congress's power to suggest a different one and to curtail spending as it chooses.
For weeks, much of the media and most pundits have aligned to take swipes at the speaker of the House and members of the House such as Paul Ryan, chairman of the Budget Committee. While no one wants the entitlement party to end, someone has to be the adult in the room and recognize it is going to take serious cuts to get the United States back on the right path. And that responsibility has to fall on Congress.
The House of Representatives was established by America's Founding Fathers as the government body closest to the people, as it is elected every two years. The House, more than any other part of the U.S. federal government, best represents the United States' diversity as a nation. And because of this multiplicity in opinions, passions, and economic concerns, the House at times battles itself. Throughout the Federalist Papers, it is recognized that the United States will be a diverse nation filled with countering ambitions and contrary viewpoints that will be recognized through ardent debate.
The Constitution set up a series of checks and balances by giving equal, but different, powers to the branches of the federal government. Remember that word: equal. The president does not rule alone. Congress as a whole is an equal partner with a responsibility to provide oversight of the executive branch. For some time, Congress has not exercised this responsibility effectively. This was especially true during the first two years of President Barack Obama's term, when the House, Senate, and executive branch were under the control of the same party. It is tough to be the overseer when criticism is seen as undermining one's own party.