The following post, written by the Rev. Robert A. Franek, is a part of Politicus Policy Discussion, in which writers draw connections between real lives and public policy.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is a coward and a crook. Instead of working to pass legislation addressing the gun violence epidemic in our country, he is turning to gutting consumer protections in a banking bill.
This week while the country continues to see several businesses taking measures to address gun violence and more each day severing ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA), the Senate will be turning its attention away from the business of guns and towards the business of banking.
Without passing one common sense gun control bill since the massacre in Parkland, Florida, Republicans in the Senate will be taking up the Crapo Amendment, which guts parts of the Dodd-Frank Act.
The Republicans in Congress have lost all sense of shame and proven again they are putty in the hands of the NRA and gun manufacturing industry.
While high school students are taking to the streets and to the halls of power, raising their voices demanding their leaders do something so the mass murder they lived through never happens again, Congressional Republicans allow a distraction debate, sponsored by the NRA and gun manufacturing industry that is desperately in need of sales, on the most foolish, reckless, and irresponsible idea: giving teachers guns.
Apparently, time’s up, though not in the #metoo sense, for working on addressing our nation’s unique epidemic of gun violence for the time being. No doubt another mass shooting will put it back on their agenda before Mitch McConnell does.
Though action still needs to be taken on the DACA crisis and other immigration issues, it is more important for the Majority Leader to put forward an amendment to gut parts of a bipartisan banking bill designed to protect consumers. This is especially stunning given that tomorrow, March 5, is the expiration date for DACA that Donald Trump set back in September when he started this mess of uncertainly for nearly 800,000 people and their families, employers, and schools. Thanks to Trump’s action being held up in court Dreamers remain protected and Congress has a little more time to act. Though we’ve see how promises and manufactured deadlines have worked in the past.
The students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are changing the cycle of how our country responds to mass shootings. No longer is the debate fading after a few days and the news cycle moves on to other stories. These students are leading a movement and with the Republicans in Congress failing to act, businesses are stepping up trying to get on the right side of history this time by making some of the changes Congress could act on now. Other businesses are seeing the toxicity to their brand of being associated with the NRA and have ended several different discount programs for NRA members.
If Mitch McConnell thinks that he can silence these students and the movement they have begun, he is clearly not paying attention. If he thinks taking up the Crapo bill will take attention off our country’s need to address gun violence he is sorely mistaken.
The failure of Republicans to take action on gun violence in this new climate following the activism of students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School begs the question, Are they trying to get fired?
It should also not be lost that Congress shut down for two days last week while they paid tribute to the Rev. Billy Graham as his casket laid in honor in the U.S. Capitol. Never mind for a moment that his brand of Christianity is not the state religion. Never mind that Congress lost two critical working days. Instead consider how these leaders of our country can pay honor to a pastor and then neglect to show a modicum of compassion to the students of MSD High though policies that will help them and students everywhere feel safe in their schools.
But none of this is surprising from the party that continues to protect Donald Trump and his web of Russian entanglements.
Republicans have nothing to run on this year. Their tax scam is toxic, their ties to the NRA and gun manufacturing industry are toxic, and their failure to protect Dreamers is toxic.
Time’s up for spineless cowards in Congress. The #NeverAgain movement is not going away. The pleas of these students will be heard all the way to the voting booth in November. Gerrymandering and voter suppression will still be issues to face, but this surge may very well send a blue wave over all of that so these too can be fixed for the common good.